Friday, 27 September 2019

Vampire the Masquerade V5 - Session Forty Seven - Aftermath (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.
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.
The introduction to this campaign, the first story and all the other parts can be found at the following links and are in chronological order. If you'd prefer a summary of each session rather than read everything then there's a more detailed link page HERE as well as links to the first episode of each story in the blog sidebar.
'Infiltrate LA' Chronicle
Welcome to L.A. - Introductory Session
Story One - 'Three Murders' - Part OneTwo, ThreeFour and Five
Interlude Session - One
Story Two - 'The Pasadena Problem' - Part OneTwoThree, and Four
Solo Session - 'The Neillson Library'
Story Two Continued- 'The Pasadena Problem' - Part FiveSixSeven and Eight
Story Three - 'Becoming Baron' - Part OneTwoThreeFour and Five
Solo Session - 'The Gather'
Story Three Continued - 'Becoming Baron' - Part SixSeven and Eight
'Foothold LA' Chronicle
Solo Session - 'Hostile Takeover'
Story Four - 'Countdown' - Part OneTwo and Three
Story Five - 'The Missing Chantry' - Part OneTwoThreeFour and Five
Solo Session - 'The Anaheim Assassination'
Story Six - 'A Meeting of Barons' - Part OneTwo and Three
Story Seven - 'The Carmelita Situation' - Part OneTwo and Three
Story Eight - 'The Blount Sisters' - Part One and Two
Story Nine - 'Blood Money' - Part OneTwo, Three, Four, Five and Six
Story Ten - 'Anathema' - Part One and Two
Story Eleven - 'Predators and Prey' aka 'The Blount Sisters' - Part Three

The PC's
Player controlled characters
Michael Tomassio - Toreador, Baron of Pasadena
Vincent 'Vin' Ghast - Brujah, Sheriff
Dr Daniel Matthews - Banu Haqim, 'Fixer'
Hope Romero - Gangrel, Scourge
Mr Hertz - Nosferatu, Mob Accountant
The SPC's
Storyteller controlled player allies
Priya Haynes - Gangrel, Hound

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 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.

'Panic' Room - Michael Tomassio's Luxury Home
With a little research, a bribe or two, some infiltrating rodents and a favour pulled in from a Nosferatu from the Hollywood Warrens he got animal blood for as a freebie, Mr Hertz discovered the location of the panic room purchased by Edward Vignes. It was installed in a house on Club Road in South Arroyo within Pasadena and has been your fall-back position after the disastrous events in Glendale.

You have been given the deeds to the $1,998,000 house in South Arroyo, Club road and Mr Hertz has transferred the ownership to Michael's SiP charity. The Panic Room entrance is through a hatch concealed in some book shelving, via a heavily armoured door. Edward Vignes apparently spared no expense when it came to the comforts in his fallback position and the two storey secure rooms are actually more luxurious than the house itself.

Storytellers Note - In case your wandering it's, Haven 3: Luxury Home (Luxurious, Panic Room (as Cell), Security 3). Anything else they want they can add with extra dots as they have them. In mechanical terms it's a straight swap in dots for his now compromised previous home. I let players replace things that they paid xp for but have lost as long as it makes sense in game. If however it was a freebie then it's gone...I'm not quite that nice...

Week One
In the wake of the attacks upon you by the Blounts and with your need to defend yourself resulting in the destruction of their home, Marius has instructed you to keep your heads down and out of kindred politics while he fixes the problem as agreed. He has made it clear that this is not an easy fix, he needs to remove the physical evidence and destroy their reputations in both the kindred and kine communities. He expects the first week to be the most treacherous for yourselves as some may attempt retaliation against you before the information about the Blounts crimes can be properly disseminated throughout the kindred of L.A.

Scene One - Reprisals
Hope received a call from Priya, the Gangrel recently recruited by Michael as a Hound. As it was Hope's job to act as Census Taker and Scourge, the new recruit had been made her responsibility. Priya had proven to be very effective in her new role and her less confrontation technique had been working well up to now. Therefore her question caught Hope a little by surprise "So, do we deal with our own disposal or do we have people that do that?" Hope of course asked exactly what had happened.

Priya Haynes - Gangrel
Hound of the North East Baronies
"I tracked a pair of poachers, they were easy enough to find, they weren't really even being subtle..." Hope had noticed that thin-bloods and caitiff poaching in other domains was becoming almost an epidemic. It was currently the primary cause of information sharing amongst the LA Gangrel. "...I gave them Michael's 'If you ask permission first' spiel and they told me that soon all LA would be their's and so I should get out of their way, the thin-blood then began a 'we are legion' speech or some shit and went for a gun..." Hope tended to keep violent confrontations from Michael as he tended to presume that there had been a diplomatic option that had been missed. At least in this case it was clearly self defence, so it was less of a concern if he learned of it. " I had to go to guns myself. They were clean kills and no witnesses." Priya's methods more closely resembled Daniel's than her own but Hope had to admit that she was proving to be quite efficient. "Daniel can help with disposal if you need assistance, but if you can sort it yourself then all the better." Stated Hope.

Body Disposal Kit
There was a slight delay, before Priya responded. "I can do it myself easily see...I still have all for the job my team was here to do originally." Hope decided that Priya effectively having body disposal gear was another thing Michael didn't need to know about. She could however sense that there was more. She was correct.

"I searched them to remove any ID and they had pictures of me, you, Daniel and Vin on them. Your one had an address on it, Daniel's a list of hospitals, Vin's the address of the two main brothel's, mine was just a picture though. I guess I haven't been here long enough for them to learn anything about me yet. It's basically a hit-list, a badly xeroxed hit-list at that so I doubt they're the only kindred with them."

Hope confirmed that the address was indeed that of her home and that the other locations were correct. Deciding on the spot that now was a great time to move house, she sent a quick message to Michael mentioning a hit list but that apparently didn't include his name then began to ring the others mentioned specifically and let them know. Vin however was already quite aware that they had kindred gunning for them.

Vincent 'Vin' Ghast - Brujah
'The Last Thing the Intruder Ever Saw...'
The occasional troublemaker that needed evicting from the brothel was something that Vin's own security usually dealt with and were more than capable of handling. However when it came to gun-wielding maniacs threatening the girls and demanding to see the manager, well, that was something that he would be dealing with himself.

As soon as he entered the room the gunman aimed the 50 cal Desert Eagle in his direction, however they never got a chance to pull the trigger. Vin covered the distance between them in a fraction of a second and grabbed their gun arm with his left hand and squeezed while punching them in the head with his right. As the one armed, decapitated corpse hit the ground and began to rapidly decompose, Vin's phone rang. "Evening Hope, what's up?" Having ascertained that Vin was both fine and aware of the 'hit-list', she rang Daniel.

Dr Daniel Matthews - Banu Haqim
'Receiving a Warning From Hope'
Having received the warning from Hope, Daniel decided to leave his home by an unusual exit and do some recon to see if he was being observed. As the others were known to have combat skills he wasn't surprised that they had been assaulted directly.

He presumed that as most kindred believed him to merely be Michael's driver and more philosopher than warrior that he would be left tuntil last or perhaps merely monitored in order to get to Michael. The fact that the hospitals at which he worked as a surgeon were also listed was more of a concern.

Leaving via an upper floor window, his supernatural agility making the climb to the ground simple enough, Daniel did a loop of his immediate area looking for observers. There were two. As Daniel left the area at least one of the pair must have had exceptional senses or observation skills as they dropped in behind him and began to follow. A cat and mouse game then ensued as each attempted to outdo the obfuscation skills of the other with their own supernatural senses.

Daniel's 'Tail'
Eventually, Daniel made himself some breathing room and in a moment of distraction slipped down a side alley and quickly circled behind his pursuers via side streets, rooftops and other routes inaccessible to one without supernatural talents. He closed on the smartly dressed man and woman as they were arguing about whose fault exactly it was that 'some Brujah driver' had managed to give them the slip.

After a brief search along the route they had expected Daniel to take they gave up and returned the way they had came. Following from a sensible distance in order to avoid detection, Daniel tailed them to a dark SUV but was unfortunately too far away to ascertain too many details. Committing their appearances to memory, Daniel took a circuitous route back to his home, grabbed his go-bag and essentials and as Hope had also done, decided to move somewhere else for a while.

Mr Hertz despite not apparently being a target returned to Chinatown for a few days where his haven was above a known business of Marius's. This combined with the local Triads keeping an eye on all comings and goings should in his opinion be enough to put off any who bore him malice.

Victoria Anne - Ghoul of Marius
Personal Assistant
Hope rang Victoria hoping she could leverage some of her earlier time in Marius's service for a favour along with whatever else Marius's psychotic PA felt it warranted. "Miss Romero, what can we do for you this evening?" Hope explained that she had found herself on a hit-list and her haven had been compromised, making moving home a priority. Victoria suggested providing a location but Hope wanted to acquire a property herself as to be frank she wanted no-one to know where it was. Rather than be offended Victoria seemed to think this was a good idea.

"Find a place you deem suitable and let me know how much money you need. I'll text you an account number and access code and we can talk about any favours you can do in return at a later date as I'm somewhat busy dealing with the 'Blount'." Slightly suspicious about how easy that was she gave her thanks and checked in with the others once more. Vin was in an excellent mood which told her petty much all she needed to know.

Vin's network of street informants and spies had warned him of two individuals hanging around near to the second of the coterie's brothels and so he'd gone there to intercept. Monitoring them entering through a secured side door by simply ripping the lock off he allowed them to enter before following. Vin had surprising stealth for a man of his size and the kindred at the rear lost his head to a swing from his machete before he realised they had been discovered.

Vincent 'Vin' Ghast - Brujah
'Explaining' His 
Policy on Behaviour 
As the second one turned to throw a swing, Vin blocked it with the edge of his blade, severing their right hand at the wrist and then broke their jaw with his elbow. As they staggered back he drove the blade two-handed through their heart, twisted the blade and ripped it out through their side sending bone fragments and dead internal organs across the wall and floor. The decapitation blow was a formality by that point.

Deciding that a message needed to be sent, Vin had his people take one of the skulls of each of the attackers to the leaders of the three most significant gangs in the Barony of the Angels. Each was accompanied by a note warning the gangs to spread the word that he was very unhappy about people visiting him without an appointment. He also decided not to tell Michael about his preventative action.

Hope decided to take temporary shelter with a group of survivalist 'preppers' she'd become acquainted with in the mountainous areas on the outskirts of Pasadena. They had made a useful if small 'Herd' for her and a recent ability to cloud memories 'learned' from a diablerized Ventrue had made them unaware of her true nature. It was as she neared their camp that she realised that she had some company, three companions to be exact. Evidently they'd learned from their encounter with Vin and had decided to go with increased numbers this time. They had also become a lot more trigger-happy.

Hope Romero - Gangrel Scourge
Deciding that subtlety was unnecessary she turned and walked purposely towards them. Taking no chances they promptly opened fire. Relying on her clans notorious resistance to damage she leapt through the gunfire, landing square in front of the foremost of the gunmen. Gripping their neck with one clawed hand and their shoulder with the other she tore skull and spine from torso in one brutal movement.

Turning towards the second she simply stared them in the eye and used her reserves of vitae to heal the wounds their weapons had inflicted. As the third man wisely ran for it, Hope allowed the beast to take control and tore the terrified kindred before her into pieces before forcing the beast back down using sheer willpower.

The fleeing kindred had gotten a significant head-start but it was insufficient against one who could turn into a raven. Hope swooped down in front of them and returned to humanoid form before tearing her fangs deeply into their throat. Once sated she butchered them, noting as she did that their blood tasted thinner and less satisfying than other kindred vitae she'd consumed.

After retrieving the axe from her jeep she attempted to make the wounds seem less like those of an animal and more like a maniac with an axe before continuing to the survivalists base.

They were suitably appalled as the blood-splattered Hope explained how she'd had to defend herself from "The Feds..." who were hunting down the survivalists as "Enemies of the state...". Already paranoid, they agreed to help her hide the bodies, chatting as they did about the many government attempts to destroy democracy and impinge on their basic freedoms...

Scene Two - Expand or Die (Again)
With Roach now either having met his final death or being kidnapped by his sire, the business of running the coteries drug empire has been delegated to the Nosferatu financial expert Mr Hertz.

Reuben Hart - Ghoul
Leader of the Apostles
He has arranged a meeting with the leader of 'The Apostles' gang that Roach had taken control of in order to see what resources they had. He was also positive he could improve on it given a free rein which Michael has effectively okayed. Before that however he still had much of the accounts of the former baron of Pasadena, Edward Vignes to sort through. Hertz decided to concentrate on properties first in anticipation of any future expansions of the gangs enterprises.

Storytellers Note - Way back in session fourteen the coterie got hold of basically everything they needed to take over all of the Vignes resources, properties, businesses and contacts in the form of a number of safety deposit boxes. They skimmed the contents then promptly forgot about them till session thirty eight when Mr Hertz was introduced and casually asked if they had anything for him to do while he was waiting. Luckily I never throw unused material away, though a bit of tweaking was required...

The coteries initial repossession of properties owned by the former baron of Pasadena was in your opinion half-arsed in the extreme though you are somewhat sympathetic as they lacked some-one of your abilities to get it done. Specific skills are required to unravel the shell companies and proxies that he'd used to purchase properties throughout Pasadena, fortunately you have those skills and more.

Zhi Baxter - Ghoul
Mr Hertz's Driver
You have managed to more than double the amount of miscellaneous properties the coterie has access to as well as find deeds of ownership concealed in a previously undiscovered safety deposit box (though you had to get Zhi to fetch it for you). Though none of these are spectacularly valuable they do give the coterie access to a number of places in which to expand your gang activities, house prostitutes or blood dolls or convert into safe houses. You can also see the potential of several locations for an illegal casino or two.

Absorbed as he was in the data, he forced himself to put the puzzle aside as he needed to get back to his own haven before morning. Stopping only to write three post-it notes reminding him to look into buying a breakers yard, funeral home and a laundromat he summoned his driver Zhi who hurried him home to Chinatown.

As Mr Hertz slept the day in his own home, Daniel had spent his on the floor of Alonzo's and Hope was deep in the woods. Michael and Vin were both more fortunate as they had their heavily armoured and well defended safe-houses to fall back to.

Mr Hertz - Nosferatu
The next evening, Reuben was waiting for Mr Hertz at the gallery meeting room. To his credit he didn't immediately turn and run when confronted by the Nosferatu accountant, though by the clan's standards Mr Hertz was fairly presentable looking. Once settled, they began to discuss just what Roach had accomplished with the criminal enterprises of Pasadena.

Reuben admitted that despite his many attempts to broaden their criminal activities, Roach was only interested in the drugs trade. This was why prostitution had been left in Vin's hands and the Apostles had effectively consolidated what they held rather than expand. Mr Hertz however had bigger plans which he laid out to Reuben.

These involved legitimising some of the gangs activities, which he wished Reuben to front and to make the gang's most capable lieutenants each responsible for a particular part of the operation. The gang leader was asked to nominate three of his most trusted people who would effectively be promoted from rank and file to lieutenants themselves.

The Line 20's - Now Known as The Apostles
Reuben's current three Lieutenants were Jevonte Richardson, Kinsey Perez and Madison Lopez all of which had been with him since they were the Line 20's before the Apostles were formed.

Though the gang was currently a combination of the Line 20's and the gangs rendered leaderless by Daniel on Roach's orders, Reuben still used the hundred or so surviving members of his original crew for the most important jobs. The seventy-five or so others were relegated to less important tasks. If Hertz really did want to expand their operations his recommendations for three more were Teo Moreno, Yago Martinez and Madison's sister Carina Lopez. All were loyal and competent. The Nosferatu was also impressed with Reuben as he was in his words "Just on the right side of shifty..." which was apparently a compliment.

A Measure of Vitae
It was also quite obvious that he had been itching to expand but had been held back somewhat by the Malkavian's narrow interests. Mr Hertz believed wholeheartedly in compartmentalisation and motivation through profit sharing and it was his intention to bring these concepts to the coteries criminal enterprises. He was also now sure that Reuben Hart would be an ideal proxy to implement his grand plan.

"So Mr Hart, I understand that nearly a month has passed by since you have been 'fed'? Allow me to rectify that for you..." Understanding that the gang leader might be reticent to drink blood from his admittedly unpleasant looking flesh he instead opened a vein into a glass. One drink later and Reuben Hart was now the ghoul of Mr Hertz.

Daniel meanwhile had informed Hope that he was 'going dark' and was staying out of the way until the situation was resolved. He then began to investigate the Barony of the Angels from where both he and Vin suspected the attacks had originated. His ghouls were also called in to investigate though first he had them dead drop him some weapons. Just in case.

Michael had been on a diplomatic offensive and had been explaining and defending his actions to the kindred of note who he thought he could convince. Though it hadn't been easy he had just about persuaded the most influential to at least give him some time to prove the coterie's innocence. Michael was also taking his own security precautions. Conscious of a potential attack on the gallery he had ensured that all the significant valuables were placed in the safe every night. Also all the important members of staff were checked in with every night.

Heather Taylor - Ghoul
Favoured Blood Doll of Marius
The only exception was Heather who was being picked up by an armoured car of Marius's along with four heavily armed members of Yukio's private security teams. Michael was just grateful that the Blounts had got the blame for endangering her and not him. The 'Fixer' was notoriously protective of his favourite blood doll.

He had also sold the creepy statues that Roach had insisted on keeping and was sure that the atmosphere within the gallery lightened the moment they left with their new owner. They had been purchased by Elizabeth 'Etain' Brooker, a House Tremere blood mage from the so-called Consolidated Chantry in Downtown so he felt reasonably sure that she was aware of their dubious history.

Dion had offered to assist with the security precautions and as usual had turned out to be both professional and efficient and had been keeping guard over Michael's favourite Ghoul, Lisa while she performed various duties for the baron. She had been told to buy a property in as unsubtle a way as possible so as to draw attention away from his actual home.

With as much done as he could he hoped this would be sufficient to whether the attacks upon them until Marius had the problem properly fixed. Hope had meanwhile found an abandoned hotel near to the border of Pasadena and Glendale which due to some unfavourable zoning regulations had failed as a business site multiple times.

Getting the property cheap with funds transferred to her by Victoria, she had made her home in the basement. Most of the windows were already boarded up and a fence surrounded the abandoned site so it was reasonably off-putting to visitors anyway. She had also added heavy chains and sturdy locks to many of the doors and had found a heavy catering fridge which would make a sturdy and unlikely place for her to sleep. It still needed a lot of work but at least it was a haven whose location was known only to her.

Even with each member of the coterie taking their own precautions and them being aware of the dangers facing them they were all surprised to have survived the first week of the Blounts aftermath without casualties.

Week Two
The kindred community has one topic of conversation currently and that is the Blounts. Information has gradually leaked from Marius's camp via some of the more chatty of the various baronies Gangrel census takers and scourges that the Blounts mansion was an elaborate death-trap from top to bottom and that even Marius's skills were being stretched attempting to cover up what is apparently (according to rumours at least) a three figure body-count of kine alone and remains of at least thirty kindred. There is talk of mass graves both beneath the house and within it's grounds and a shed within it's borders that still had bodies piled four deep within, and not just mortals either.

Scene Three - Opportunities and Opportunists
Daniel had been a 'house' guest of Alonzo in the Hollywood Warrens for over a week and given it's position near the border of the Barony of the Angels had been using as a staging point to spy on the comings and goings from there.

The North-East Baronies
Burbank, Glendale and Pasadena
Though the kindred gangs changed almost nightly what was clear was that poaching had become endemic. The three baronies now under Michael's 'protection' were particular targets as the kindred population was well aware that his resources were stretched thin.

Fortunately his reconnaissance had the added benefit of allowing him to liaise with Hope and let her know where best to station herself and Priya to intercept as many as possible.

Never one to miss an opportunity he was also keeping notes of those he detected entering other baronies as possible blackmail targets later. He had also become aware that no-one seemed to be targeting downtown, possibly as it's disputed nature meant that travelling there meant facing the wrath of both Fortier and Marius. Neither of which was a particularly great idea to make an enemy of. The one thing that was really annoying him though was that he was yet to identify the two kindred that had been observing his home.

Charlie 'Chick' Abbott - Banu Haqim
Scourge - Therese's Commando's
He had even visited Charlie 'Chick' Abbott of Therese's commando coterie to see if she knew of them but unfortunately she did not. Extrapolating from this it seemed unlikely that they were of the Santa Monica Pier thin-bloods as if they were, Chick would be aware of them.

Hope had been utilising the intelligence coming from Daniel and his ghouls quite effectively. Priya had been dispatched to waylay those she thought might be open to reason or could be deterred by a warning shot, Hope was dealing with the less flexible interlopers. Having discussed with Vin his particular tactic for putting off uninvited guests to his businesses she decided that a message of her own might be called for. She was it seems correct as after the fifth poacher was thrown across the border with their fangs pulled out with pliers the trespasses did begin to slow down.

Mr Hertz had been concentrating on his new role as business manager and gang leader for the coterie and had to admit was enjoying himself thoroughly. His investigations into properties owned by the Vignes had led him naturally into looking at their businesses.

To a mortal observer the businesses that Vignes had purchased might seem random but to your kindred eye you can see purpose to most of them. Two stand out however. He had invested in a local refuse collection firm which though not significantly profitable did have access to a recycling plant with a furnace. 

He also was the majority shareholder in a real-estate agency and property developer which seems to have been only barely profitable mainly due to it selling luxurious homes at suspiciously cheap rates to officials, senior police officers and other elected officials.

The Nosferatu had also been busy utilising the piles of cash that the coterie had been stockpiling from drug deals but had previously been unable to adequately utilise due to inadequate businesses through which to launder it. With Mr Hertz's knowledge of finances and how to slip investments through the cracks he had taken over a number of cash businesses. Amongst their legitimate holdings were now a small laundromat company, a breakers yard, a car dealership and a funeral home.

Storytellers Note - Mr Hertz's player has grasped his character concept tightly and ran with it, lol. I am going along with it as I had a lot of stuff written relating to the safety deposit boxes which I never used which I can now dig back out.

His reorganisation of their criminal enterprises was also going well. He had put one of Reuben's Lieutenants in charge of the three crack-houses and had began to allocate the others specific tasks. They reported to Reuben and Reuben reported to Hertz and each Lieutenant had a very specific incentive scheme to ensure their very best efforts. As they had expanded into areas previously ignored by them, Daniel had been engaged to remove a few more impediments to their progress. Mr Hertz had identified eight such obstacles, all mortals and all unlikely to be the joining type. The Banu Haqim had become a little bored of recon now Hope and Priya had reduced the poaching from a flood to a trickle so he approached the task with some vigour.

Over the next week Pasadena's criminal community seemed to be plagued with odd accidents. One fell out of a window onto an ornate spiked railing, one was crushed while working on his car when the jack inexplicably failed, another was stabbed in an apparent mugging gone wrong. The fact that one simply died in his sleep, another hung himself and a third was crushed by collapsing scaffolding were barely noticeable when compared to the notorious hijacker killed by the gas bottle explosion. Of course the hit and run was a suspected gang assassination but it did occur in a notorious accident black-spot so perhaps it was just bad luck.

Happy that his list of problems had gone from eight to none, Mr Hertz proceeded with his plans. However his trip home to Chinatown was slightly more eventful than normal.

Scene Four - The Blood Dragons
Lyko Wu - Ventrue
Dragon Head of the Blood Dragons
The Triad presence grew denser as Mr Hertz got nearer to his Haven. It was almost as if every gang member in Chinatown was in the slaughterhouse district this evening.

As you return to your haven, the Enforcer and Gang Leader you know only as Chen is waiting for you. "Evening Mr Hertz, our honoured leader, Lyko Wu the Dragon Head of the Blood Dragons, wished to meet the individual who has been such help to my financial interests over the last few months. He is awaiting your attendance..."

Knowing enough of etiquette to be sure that refusal was not an option he entered his own home. He was also glad that he kept his front room presentable, the rest would have raised some interesting questions.

A muscular, handsome Chinese gentlemen, who you would imagine from his features has some western ancestry is waiting in your room. He has a particularly nasty scar along the right hand side of his face just missing the eye and has an expensive cigar in his hand. The four enforcers who are also in the room and your contact Chen, leave the room after a mere look from their leader, leaving the two of you alone. "Mr Hertz, I presume?"

"I am indeed. You honour my home with your visit Mr Wu." Replied Mr Hertz in perfect Mandarin before tipping his hat as he normally did. "How may I be of service?" Lyko Wu hid his surprise at being addressed in his native tongue quite well before replying. "I like to put faces to the names with which I and my Blood Dragons have dealings. I feel that I should mention that there is no need to hide your kindred status with me. We may not share a clan but we do share an origin."

Los Angeles - Chinatown at Night
As Lyko had mentioned clan first, the Nosferatu felt safe to ask which clan he was from. The reply wasn't particularly surprising. "I was embraced into the Ventrue Clan almost a century ago. My sire wished to use my mixed heritage to build a bridge into the Chinese community. He met his final death soon after. I will not speak his name, he was without honour." Knowing not to push his luck he returned the conversation to financial matters asking if there was any further way he could assist. "Recent dealings with some unusual creatures from our homeland have depleted our resources somewhat. I am attempting to rebuild our humble group to their former glory and that must take priority. However in the future I shall certainly take your offer under consideration."

Lyko then made enquiries about the adequacy of the accommodation in which the Nosferatu was currently living. It was obvious that he found it distasteful but was politely avoiding commenting on it. Mr Hertz assured him that it suited his needs. The Nosferatu was curious about how this kindred and Marius dealt with having interests in the same area. Deciding that polite phrasing was going to be the key he asked the question.

Ming Xiao - Kuei-Jin, The Kindred of the East
"The owner of this part of Chinatown, Marius Walker has an arrangement with us regarding his properties and club. A pact of mutual none-interference you might call it." That explained it of course but he didn't interrupt as the Ventrue continued. "It was he who drove our competitors from Chinatown but as he did so for his own needs, he has our gratitude rather than us being in his debt. A subtle distinction but one of importance when debt and honour are concerned. I'm sure you understand?" Mr Hertz acknowledged that he did indeed understand. "That is not to say that we are ungrateful, which is reflected in the compensation we request for our protection."

Marius Walker - Gangrel
Mr Hertz had some doubts about whether Marius needed any protection. It seemed however that despite remaining silent that his reaction had betrayed his thoughts. "As you have no doubt perceived he doesn't need our protection but he does us the courtesy of giving the impression that he does, a matter of face, which we appreciate. He has a deep understanding of our culture though his own philosophies differ considerably."

As the guards reentered the room, the leader of the Blood Dragons Triad gang joined them and left with a slight bow that the Nosferatu reciprocated. Once he was sure he was alone he contacted Michael to inform him that there was another player in Los Angeles that he had yet to encounter.

To be Continued in 'Aftermath' - 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 to be one of two very free-form sessions. Things had gotten a bit tense over the last few weeks so I had a few set-pieces prepared and the rest of the time was for the players to explore anything they wished. The write-up itself I must admit is slightly re-ordered to make narrative sense as it meandered quite a bit during the actual play.

Given the fact that I had to wing 95% of it I think it went quite well.

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, 'Vin' is the actor Scott Adkins, Dr Matthews is Mads Mikkelsen, Hope is Deborah Ann Woll, Mr Hertz is Charles Dance, Priya Haynes is Gabrielle Union, Victoria is Lilith May, Heather Taylor is Liz Vicious, Charlie 'Chick' Abbott is Lena Headey. Everything else is from vampire related folders and searches and is as far as I know is all of the 'fair use' variety. If there's something that you feel should be attributed to some-one then feel free to let me know and I'll happily add an acknowledgement...

Friday, 20 September 2019

Vampire the Masquerade V5 - Session Forty Six - Predators and Prey

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.
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.
The introduction to this campaign, the first story and all the other parts can be found at the following links and are in chronological order. If you'd prefer a summary of each session rather than read everything then there's a more detailed link page HERE as well as links to the first episode of each story in the blog sidebar.
'Infiltrate LA' Chronicle
Welcome to L.A. - Introductory Session
Story One - 'Three Murders' - Part OneTwo, ThreeFour and Five
Interlude Session - One
Story Two - 'The Pasadena Problem' - Part OneTwoThree, and Four
Solo Session - 'The Neillson Library'
Story Two Continued- 'The Pasadena Problem' - Part FiveSixSeven and Eight
Story Three - 'Becoming Baron' - Part OneTwoThreeFour and Five
Solo Session - 'The Gather'
Story Three Continued - 'Becoming Baron' - Part SixSeven and Eight
'Foothold LA' Chronicle
Solo Session - 'Hostile Takeover'
Story Four - 'Countdown' - Part OneTwo and Three
Story Five - 'The Missing Chantry' - Part OneTwoThreeFour and Five
Solo Session - 'The Anaheim Assassination'
Story Six - 'A Meeting of Barons' - Part OneTwo and Three
Story Seven - 'The Carmelita Situation' - Part OneTwo and Three
Story Eight - 'The Blount Sisters' - Part One and Two
Story Nine - 'Blood Money' - Part One, Two, Three, Four, Five and Six
Story Ten - 'Anathema' - Part One and Two

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

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 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.

Pre-Session Player Handouts
At the start of certain sessions I distribute local news reports and information relevant to certain individuals. Some relate to previous sessions, others are things going on that the players may or may not wish to investigate or involve themselves in. Others of course are complete bollocks red herrings...

Storytellers Note - This session started at seven in the evening and finished at half past four in the morning the next day. It therefore goes without saying that it's quite a long write-up. it's also technically 'The Blount Sisters' - Part Three, for reasons that will become obvious soon enough.

Karen Anatos - Gangrel Anathema
Media Entrepreneur
Word of your new arrangement with Karen Anatos has spread through the kindred rumour mill with varying reactions. Most however seem reasonably happy that the chances of a potentially damaging masquerade breach has been averted now she has a mentor of sorts in the Baron of Pasadena. You have also began to get subtle enquiries about feeding rites within Burbank but that is something that you have yet to arrange properly with Miss Anatos who is currently busy with a new movie project apparently based around a group of evil vampire hunters and several heroic creatures of the night who attempt to rescue one of their number captured by them...

News about the Second Inquisition incursion has dispersed equally quickly and has bought about more of a reaction. Most are presuming that the clean-up was implemented by Marius's people but you of course have a different perspective based on the ragtag horde of creatures that you watched swarm across the scene along with the mysterious pale lady who between them killed the three dozen or so guards you hadn't engaged during your assault.

Priya Haynes - Gangrel Hound
The objections amongst kindred to the aforementioned Marius acting as liaison between all the Gangrel scourges and census takers of the many baronies across Los Angeles has faded to nothing as they begin to see the benefit of sharing intelligence between them in case the Inquisition should return. The fact that Marius has apparently kept to his word and only spread intelligence relative to border crossings, new arrivals and disputes has also helped to reassure those doubters.

Your new recruit the Gangrel Priya seems to have adopted the position as Hound to Hope's Scourge quite effortlessly lending some truth to her claim to have fulfilled the role before, albeit in a Camarilla city. She is also quite eloquent for a Gangrel so her less confrontational methodology is complimenting Hope's intimidating style quite well. Though 'Good Cop, Bad Cop' is an old system it does have it's place and you have no complaints 'It seems that "or you can discuss the matter with Hope or Vin" is a more than adequate threat for her to gain cooperation. You have set her up in one of your properties within Pasadena where she has settled in along with her Ghoul Abbigail.

Fiorenza Savona - Ventrue
Power Broker
Word has also filtered to you via your liaisons that Fiorenza has met with several of the Camarilla Justicars in order to put forward her opinion that operations involving current or former Archons that involve Los Angeles should be 'discussed' with her first due to several ongoing projects of her own involving the city. She apparently also mentioned that she was 'disappointed' that the interference almost unravelled a promising ongoing project.

True to her word Gloria Martinez has retrieved the embezzled twenty seven million dollars from Maynard Finance and Mr Hertz has found the bulk of the three million that was the now quite deceased Marcel Emery's ten percent so that at least is a job that can have a line drawn beneath it.

The money has been transferred back to Camarilla accounts along with the news that all involved have been granted their final deaths.

Mr Hertz meanwhile has expressed a desire to stay in Los Angeles for the 'new challenges' though you suspect that he has also developed a taste for intrigue that his previous employment was lacking. He is currently occupying himself with your inherited accounts and looking into new business opportunities to launder your current cash stockpile.

Scene One - The Missing Malkavian
Reuben Hart - Ghoul
Leader of the Apostles
Roach's street gang 'The Apostles' have seen nothing of him for several weeks and their leader has taken his concerns to Michael, the baron of Pasadena. Firstly many of their drug contacts are dealt with directly via the Malkavian which is creating him some problems and secondly he is only a few days away from needing his monthly infusion of vampiric Vitae. The latter problem is easy enough to resolve should it become necessary however the former is more considerable.

Roach had been known to wander off before but never for this long. Given that they had accumulated several enemies while establishing themselves it was possible that one of them had taken advantage of the Malkavian's unpredictable wanderings to do him harm. With his own gang unable to locate him and Daniel's skilled investigator having no luck either, Michael chose to attempt something he'd never done before.

Michael's skills with the extrasensory vampiric ability sometimes called 'Auspex' had increased of late and he felt that he might it may now be potent enough for him to attempt to force a premonition as Roach sometimes did. Knowing that Roach sometimes used familiar objects to help focus this ability he had his chair retrieved from the balcony and sent Daniel to retrieve the ashtray from his room and a map of Los Angeles. Seated in the chair he placed his one hand on the map, his other on the ashtray and began to focus both on the image of Roach, the items and the abilities he was drawing upon. Vin had arrived moments earlier and joined them in the room, admittedly curious about what would happen. The only other kindred he'd seen do such things was the missing Malkavian Roach and he was (as far as the Brujah was concerned) a fucking lunatic.

'Moon Ray' - Malkavian - Sire of Roach
You force yourself to concentrate on Roach's whereabouts while surrounded by what passes for his belongings. Not knowing what to expect the series of disjointed images disorientates you considerably and you can only imagine that deciphering such things becomes easier over time.

You see a kindred you've never encountered before with tattoos on his face, strange spiral patterns cover much of his clothing and there's a look of madness in his eyes. The image virtually screams 'Malkavian' though it isn't Roach. He is sitting in a room exactly like that of the Blounts speaking to a woman whose appearance flows between an older and younger version of one of the sisters, the hair half blue and half silver. The Malkavian speaks in a sing song voice but the only words you can make out are "Your terms are acceptable I suppose..." You briefly see Roach, with a look of surprise on his face, then locked in a cell, then screaming and then inexplicably walking side by side with the first figure from your vision smiling almost contently, then nothing.

The Blount Sisters - Toreador
Serial Killing Diablerists
Your sense of time and indeed self is none-existent during the random images and once the vision begins to fade you're not 100% sure whether the order the visions appeared was anything like the order in which they occurred or if they happened at all.

Relaying what he had observed to his coterie they attempted to decipher the haphazard images into some semblance of order. Interpreting such things had always been Roach's job and he was somewhat of a specialist in that field so the others were a little hamstrung.

Two things however stood out. First, the Blounts hated Roach and could easily be prime suspects in his disappearance and secondly the Malkavian in the vision vaguely matched the occasional ramblings Roach had uttered regarding his absentee sire. Before they got carried away they decided to try some practical measures first.

Daniel already wished to talk to Laki, the enforcer for Jenna Cross's duskborn based at Santa Monica pier so enquiries about Roach would be a plausible way to segue way into his real motives. Meanwhile Michael decided to see if the Neillson Library held any information on 'Moon Ray' the sire of Roach. Given the potential dangers of travelling alone in light of what may have befallen Roach, Vin accompanied Michael and Hope travelled with Daniel.

Hope had awoken at night fall and discovered that her cat-like eyes had returned to normal after her frenzy but had lasted far longer than such animalistic transformations normally did. Usually they lasted a mere night but her eyes had stayed transformed for over a week. The raven-like talons extending from her fingertips however still remained.

Storytellers Note - I have decided to extend the period that animalistic physical and mental transformations occur on frenzied Gangrel based on Blood Potency and the kindred's age.  I currently have no particular formula other than what makes for a good story.

Michael made the usual calls to the barons who may be concerned about his travel arrangements. Therese Voerman's 'Seneschal' Jane Lane informed him that she saw no problem but would inform her baron anyway while Isaac Abrams seemed uncharacteristically warm in his positive response.

Scene Two - The Usual Suspects
Santa Monica Pier at Night
It was Daniel's usual habit to park some distance from any location to which he travelled so if there was trouble his vehicle wouldn't be associated with it.

He had however realised that this annoyed Hope a lot as since she gained the ability to assume a raven form she had come to dislike walking anywhere. Daniel had therefore taken to parking further and further away from anywhere he travelled to with Hope in order to get on her nerves. Today it was working especially well as she had whinged the entire way from their parking space to the pier.

As they approached Santa Monica Pier, Daniel turned his heightened senses to attempting to identify who of those around him were kindred and who were kine. His extensive medical experience also helped in this regard as little clues that would escape most observers were as clear as day to Doctor Matthews.

Laki - Caitiff
Duskborn Enforcer
The problem was that either he was misinterpreting clues based on many of them being duskborn which made their vampiric natures somewhat random or there were a lot more kindred mingling with the kine than Jenna Cross was admitting to having under her control. Adding it to his 'need to know' list, Daniel continued to the pier office that Jenna used with Hope still moaning about the walk.

They were intercepted on the way by Laki who informed them that Jenna and Rosa were both off 'working on something' but that he'd be happy to discuss whatever problem they had. He pointed them towards the security office and offered them a seat before taking one himself. Both kindred noticed that he conspicuously avoided taking Jenna's seat behind the desk even though Rosa regularly had done so in their presence.

"So your weirdo drug dealer friend has disappeared? That explains some of the more human of the duskborn complaining they were having to go elsewhere for their highs. Apparently he gave exceptionally good deals to other kindred." Daniel mentioned that as long as no-one used them for a snack that a representative could be sent to make such things available again at whatever the previous rates had been. Having fostered a bit of good will and being reasonably sure that Roach hadn't been around the pier for a while he moved onto the other issue of the Blounts. "While I've got you I thought I'd let you know that you might want to keep clear of Glendale for while..." Laki of course wanted to know why.

The 'Bloodworm'
Daniel and Hope explained that they had recently been employed to rid the Blounts of a poacher. This 'poacher' rather than being a kindred turned out to be a giant, blood sucking worm thing that ate people, vampires and pretty much anything else that had blood inside. They also told him that it was connected in some way to the Lupines and that they weren't one hundred percent sure that it was the only one. "You aren't missing any-one yourself are you?" enquired Daniel conversationally.

Laki admitted that a few duskborn and Caitiff that had fed in Glendale hadn't been seen from again but given the high rate of turnover amongst such kindred he hadn't made the connection. "I think..." added Daniel. "...that they might be a bit embarrassed that they had to call a load of youngsters in to help them out. Pride, you know? So we reckon they need a bit of time to sort out their affairs." Laki agreed with the logic but pointed out that a lot of the duskborn relied on the Blounts flexible policy on granting feeding rites.

"Our baron has said that he'll help where he can. he has some sway in Burbank now and we can always accommodate a few more mouths in Pasadena." Laki thanked them for their help and assured them that he'd keep those under his protection out of Glendale. "What was all that about?" Asked Hope in between complaining about the walk. "If the Blounts get hungry they might make a mistake that they actually get caught doing and then we'll have an excuse to kill the bastards." It seemed reasonable to Hope, though she imagined Michael might not feel the same. "What now then?" was Hopes's next question. "Let's go see Alonzo." Was the reply.

Alonzo Guillen - Nosferatu - Ancient Warrens
Though there was a perfectly good parking space within a few metres of the sewer entrance, Daniel as with the pier parked unnecessarily far away. Realising that the Banu Haqim was doing this on purpose,Hope 'accidentally' slid one of her razor sharp claws along the side of his car, slicing through the paintwork and down to the metal.

Once within the sewer network they navigated the usual selection of security barriers and other physical deterrents to progress, each inexplicably being open as they arrived. Hope passed the time in between complaining about the walk by chatting to the vermin they passed, discovering that nearly all were spies for Alonzo. Their conversation became quite repetitive very quickly so she reverted to whining about having to walk everywhere. After what seemed to her like an eternity they arrived at the ancient part of the Warrens were Alonzo made his haven. "In need of some more advice, young one?"

"Your missing friend is a Malkavian. they're not exactly renowned for reliability." Alonzo did have a point but persevering he mentioned the Blount sisters. "So he's dead then." It was a moment before they both realised that it was a statement not a question. Alonzo then made a vague attempt to reassure them. "Of course they don't usually put that much effort into hunting kindred unless they're particularly weak or stupid so perhaps he's just wandered off. It depends what he did to annoy them I suppose."

The Blount Sisters - 'Entertaining' Guests
Daniel explained that he'd more or less slandered them to the entire city. "Oh...well that would do it. How long has he been absent?" After being told that it was three weeks since he was last seen, Alonzo tried to be reassuring again. "Well they like to take their time with kindred so if his stamina holds out he could possibly have endured until now..." Both of them picked up on the fact that the Nosferatu didn't seem convinced by his own statement.

Daniel asked if the knowledgeable Nosferatu knew anything else that might be of use to them. Some of what he told them simply confirmed what they already knew, other information was more useful. "Humans they pick up wherever they can. Hitchhikers, runaways, lost children, prostitutes, you know the usual suspects. They have no 'regular haunts' to speak of when after kindred so an ambush isn't really viable. They hunt weakling vampires they know the location of.  As they tell them where they can feed it's a simple matter to track them down."

Tzimisce Elder - Missing Since 2004
This made sense to both of them but it was also disappointing as an ambush point would have been ideal. apparently picking up on their disappointment he next pearl of wisdom was however more interesting. "The Blounts mansion is built over an old cave complex though so presumably there are other ways in and out of the place as I've never known them leave by the front door except for the occasional rant or meeting of barons." That caught Daniel's interest in particular.

He then mentioned in passing that as the sisters were diablerists that they probably had a lot of supernatural abilities not usual for their clan. Alonzo's final bit of knowledge built on this but in a concerning way. "During the Sabbat incursion of two thousand and four it was rumoured that they drove out a pair of Tzimisce elders and their brood based there. As pretty much every vampire in LA claimed to have been pivotal in the Anarch victory it may be just a rumour....however if they diablerised them as well, who knows what they might be capable of..." The reassurance that their fellow kindred might yet survive and that there might be another way into the mansion was outweighed by the possibility that what they faced may be far more powerful than they expected.

Michael's research in the library on premonitions and their interpretation throughout the ages was so full of contradictions that he gave up relatively quickly and instead looked into Roach's sire 'Moon Ray'. What he discovered was almost as dire a possibility as him being a prisoner of the Blounts.

A constant bane to the kindred of both Camarilla and Anarch cities for the last two centuries, this mysterious Malkavian is notorious for randomly embracing junkies, Romani fortune tellers, Faith healers and others who either have or claim to have visions.

His stated goal according to the few who have spoken to him is to "Make the visions real...", believing (or so he says) that it is the Malkavian powers of premonition which will show the true future for all kindred and that it just needs enough with such powers to believe the same vision at the same time for it to re-write reality to a perfect vampire world. Of course the definition of 'perfect' is open to debate.

He has also been known to 'collect' such kindred via diablerie. The only saving grace was that if anyone could convince Moon Ray that he believed his ravings in order to save himself it would be Roach.

Michael was surprised to see that Vin was looking at certain tomes as he usually ignored the written word. Admittedly he was focused more upon works with a lot of pictures but even so it was a move in the right direction.

Scene Three - Preemptive Strikes
Keith Chang - Ghoul of Daniel
The Blount's 1st 'Warning'
The moment Daniel awoke to the night his phone began to ring. The number on the display indicated that it was his ghoul Andrew. "We've got a problem boss..." Daniel had a feeling it was going to be something bad. He was correct.

"Keith has had the shit kicked out of him by and I quote directly 'some motherfucking vampire'. They kicked down his front door and covered the distance to him before he could get to a gun. Which being as he sleeps with it on his bedside table is pretty fucking fast. He's got a broken arm, cracked ribs, a punctured long and a few other relatively minor injuries."

Andrew paused as if collecting his thoughts before continuing. "The only thing they said to him was 'Tell your boss Enid sends her regards'" "Which explains the envelope I found pinned to the inside of my bedroom door today which contained a coin and a note saying 'next time it might be heads, love Edith" Daniel figured that was what passed for humour amongst vampire serial killers. "Some-one is fucking with us all and they don't seem even slightly worried about the consequences"

"I hesitate to ask after that.." replied Daniel. "...But did you make any progress finding the house plans I asked for." Andrew knew his regnant well enough to know that if he was asking it must be important. "No, In that they don't exist. 'Misfiled' apparently. I did confirm that there's a cave network around there but most of the records for that are suspiciously absent as well." Daniel briefly lamented how easy kindred apparently found it to have all records of their homes mysteriously disappear. He then headed to the gallery to report in to Michael that the conflict with the Blounts had reached the 'warning shots' phase.

Sarah - Ghoul of Vincent Ghast
The Blount's 2nd 'Warning'
As Daniel arrived through the front door, Vin arrived through the back. Daniel could hear a commotion in the loading bay. He could hear Vin yelling "Is Daniel about. I need him urgently..." Vin was carrying his ghoul Sarah over one arm and she was covered in blood as was Vin. "So, Where the fuck is Daniel?..." He yelled once more. As the doctor rushed into the loading bay to assist, Michael joined them to ask the Brujah what had happened.

Michael had seen Vin kill kindred and kine on many occasions but he had always treated it as a job to be done taking little pleasure in the act itself except when retaliating for an attack upon himself. Of course he had seen him angry as no-one liked been shot but this is the first time he had seen him enraged. It was a sobering sight. Nonetheless he asked the question. Through gritted teeth Vin laid out what had happened.

"I got a call, it was Sarah's number so I answered it and then all I heard was some mad woman cackling and then a text with an address of one of the hookers houses where Sarah was making a collection for me. It's a central location so the ho's all leave our cut there you see?" He didn't wait for reply. "When I got there the back door had been torn off, the whore had been turned inside out and Sarah was hanging upside-down from the light fixture by what looked suspiciously like rope made from strands of  knitting wool." He then threw a length of 'rope' made from multi-coloured strands of wool on a nearby table "These were sticking in her..." He added a dozen or so bloody knitting needles to the rope. "They probably thought that was fucking funny..."

Daniel could see that the needles had been inserted with clinical precision and had been perfectly placed to just miss every major internal organ and artery. The attack showed a formidable knowledge of human anatomy and was almost certainly a warning as killing her instantly would have been far simpler.

Staunching the bleeding with items from his medical kit, he did what he could for her while Vin paced the length of the loading bay clenching and un-clenching his fists until blood dripped from the palms. One of the needles had nicked a lung but the wound wasn't going to be fatal if anything the real danger was her entering shock from blood-loss. Vin sliced open a vein in his arm and fed her some of his blood as Daniel continued to work to save her life. "We need to find somewhere for her to lie down." Said Daniel after a tense hour of work.

Storytellers Note - I think that's only about the third time in forty sessions that Dr Daniel Matthews used the Medicine Skill...

Vin carried Sarah to one of the vacant gallery rooms before heading to the meeting room where the others had gathered. Vin's thanks to Daniel for saving the life of his ghoul was genuine and heartfelt, the anger had become a slow burning hatred and he spoke in carefully measured tones as he spoke to his Baron.

Vin's Solution - 'Death by Machete'
"I know that you have your own way of doing things and I normally understand the need to be careful about how we respond. I don't always agree with you but I do as you ask regardless of my own feelings..."

Michael had been in enough negotiations to feel a 'but' coming as Vin continued "...but this time they die. I'm going to kill them and anyone or thing that gets in my way and I don't give a fuck who they are or who the fuck their friends might be. Any-one who has a problem with that after it's done, then I''ll fucking kill them too..." "No-on is going to stop you..." Replied Michael. "...I only ask that you wait while we prepare a plan for doing so. Rather than run off now into what will almost certainly be a well defended home no doubt designed to be a death trap." Though his every urge was to go there now he could see that his Baron had a point. He'd wait, but not for long. "Some-one should ring Hope, she's out on patrol..."

Unfortunately the call came too late.

You sense rather than feel a change in the air and some instinct tells you to look up. Some thing with a twelve foot wingspan. bone armour and claws like daggers dives towards you.

Hope tried to grab at the creature to immobilise it but it was quicker than it's bulk indicated and it raked it's claws down her back, slicing deeply through even the Gangrel's resilient undead flesh. She called for her wolf to at least give it another target though she doubted it would be much more than a distraction. As it dived once more, Hope changed tactics and rather than go for a grapple instead raked her claws along it's wings in an attempt to ground the monstrosity. As her raven-like talons tore through the membranes it laughed rather than screamed and leapt at her from it's now grounded position.

Familiar with the tactic of a leaping attack as she often used it herself she twisted aside at the last moment using it's own momentum against it, then grabbed with clawed hands and drove her fangs into it's throat and tore sideways. A powerful backhanded blow sent her flying backwards with staggering force, before the creature was upon her raking it's own claws across her chest. Sparing only a moment to tell her wolf to get the hell out of there she attempted to defend against the onslaught.

Her own counterattack seemed woefully inadequate and she noticed with concern that it's throat and wings were healing at a rapid rate. It then drove it's own fangs into her neck and the Gangrel felt the vitae being drawn from her veins at an incredible and brutal rate. Drawing upon the few drops she had left she enhanced her strength to the limit of her abilities and ripped herself from it's grip.

The attackers laugh is more like a cackle as it turns and launches itself into the air just as a group of half a dozen hideously deformed creatures charges towards you gurgling incoherently while three others glide down on wings of their own though mercifully they seem incapable of true flight.

Lacking the vitae necessary to use any but her natural skills, Hope attempted to barge her way through them. However the beast had other ideas and frenzy overcame her and as she tore the first to pieces drinking deeply of it's blood the others fell upon her. Using the blood to fuel her supernatural resilience she shrugged off the damage and leapt high into the air, transforming as she did into a raven and away as the war ghouls fell upon each other in impotent rage.

Scene Four - Escape
Galerie Sanguine - No Longer a Safe Haven
It was obvious to Hope as soon as she entered the gallery that she wasn't the only one who had been paid a visit. Once being appraised of the other attacks it was also certain that they were being toyed with. Both Keith and Sarah could have just as easily been killed as maimed and had the thing that attacked her done so in conjunction with the war ghouls she also would have been overwhelmed. The message was clearly "You're safe nowhere, we can kill you when we wish..."

"It was like fighting that fucking Tzimisce from the Warrens." Observed Hope. "He didn't have wings admittedly but the general 'look' was as close as made no difference." A few theories were thrown around ranging from the plausible to the outlandish. Most suspected that they had diablerized the Sabbat that they had supposedly driven from their domain, others that the Tzimisce had taken over their minds and were inhabiting their bodies and even the possibility that they had copied the form of the Blounts and that in fact the sisters were the ones who had been drained.

Only being interested in the final deaths of the Blounts, Vin had stayed out of what he believed to be a pointless debate. While the others theorised, he had loaded every drum magazine he had with solid steel slugs, put on the harness for his most favoured bladed weapon and placed the others in a canvass bag in case his primary was lost. A few spare guns had been thrown in as well, just in case. As he returned to the meeting room, Michael had made a decision.

"Were going to see Marius now, that's all of us. I'll pay whatever boons he requires to keep all the none-combatants safe till we get this done. Hopefully he'll give us sanctuary while we get our stuff together to hit the Blounts." Vin was pleasantly surprised as he had been expecting Michael to go for a diplomatic option once he'd have time to think. Michael then phoned his security team at his home who were currently looking after Shawna. He warned them to work in pairs, stay in the house and to let him know the instant there was even the suspicion of any trouble.

Michael's Armoured Cadillac
Storytellers Note - The coterie has three dots in Marius as a 'Mawla' so this didn't seem unreasonable. His price in boons might be significant, but the idea was plausible given the circumstances.

With no-one working alone, they gathered together all they needed and then split themselves into two vehicles. Lisa, Heather and Sarah as the most vulnerable travelled in Michael's armoured car with himself and Vin who refused to travel separately from his ghoul. Hope and Daniel were in the doctors own car along with both his ghouls and Hope's wolf famulus and rescued dog were in the back as the Gangrel insisted that they come along with them. Hope had the sword she'd retrieved from the slain Second Inquisition interrogator and put it alongside Daniel in the car. "You're better with swords than me..." she explained, before clarifying. "...Don't forget that it's still mine though."

The area of town that you're travelling through is suspiciously devoid of people, then as if a switch has been flicked the power in the area goes dead, plunging everything into darkness. A moment later something heavy strikes the side of the lead car as claw like dents appear in the passenger side door and the whole vehicle rocks alarmingly.

"Boot it Dion...." was Michael's one command.

As one of Fiorenza's operatives, Dion was remarkably well trained in a number of areas. He had demonstrated that he was an expert marksmen but first and foremost he was an incredibly talented driver. Compensating for the sideways movement with calm determination he veered onto the pavement, the shops awnings forcing the attacker back into the air. Then he slid the car sideways between two parked vehicles which once again blocked the winged creatures approach and then put his foot down and was gone.

Andrew - Ghoul of Daniel
Daniel who was a good driver, but not as talented as his ghoul Andrew, immediately regretted not letting him drive as the monster turned it's attention to his vehicle.

A gigantic chitinous monstrosity studded with osseous spurs and horns with large bat like wings is hovering above you vehicle, the wings flapping seemingly too slowly to keep such a creature aloft yet are doing so effortlessly. Though the creature itself is like nothing you've ever seen, something about the pure malice in it's eyes reminds you uncomfortably of the Blounts.

Hope was convinced that this wasn't the same creature that had attacked her. It was very similar for sure but the spurs and horns seemed different some how. Her musings were cut short as it landed on top of the car, gripped with it's claws and started to peel the roof off.

Grabbing the sword that Hope had lent him Daniel yelled at Andrew to take over the driving as he drove the weapon through the new gap in his roof. The ghouls superior driving skills showed through as he controlled the vehicle despite the grip the creature had on it and increased speed. As Daniel took a second swing, it let go and almost  as is if showing off, spun elegantly in the air, then laughing mockingly the creature disappeared into the night.

It was only later that it ocurred to them that the attack had been broken off as they reached the disputed domain of Downtown. Even the Blounts weren't insane enough to get on the wrong side of Baron Louis Fortier and Marius 'The Fixer' Walker simultaneously.

Scene Five - Sanctuary
Hallowbrook Apartments - Marius's HQ
With both their vehicles battered considerably the group drove into the underground car-park beneath Hallowbrook apartments and took stock.

The only real casualty had been the roof of Daniel's car but as before the attack seemed more like they were being played with than a concerted attempt to kill them. They realised however that it was only a matter of time before the Blounts became bored of the 'game' and went for the kill. Victoria and Yukio were both waiting for them as they disembarked.

"I have arranged quarters for your ghouls..." Victoria then noticed Hope's dog. "...we can find somewhere for your pet also." Given that most of Los Angeles Gangrel scourges and census takers shared information on unauthorised incursions into LA via Marius, Hope imagined that Victoria had to deal with visitors with 'pets' quite a lot. "The rest of you can come with me, Marius is waiting in the roof garden for you all."

Heather had already wandered off. As she actually lived here she didn't need directions and Victoria had conspicuously ignored her anyway. It was common knowledge that Victoria saw Heather as basically pointless but was obliged to look after due to her being what she referred to as Marius's 'favourite toy'.

Marius's Roof Garden - Possible Shrine to Lilith
Michael offered his most sincere thanks before laying out the situation and his problem. Marius reiterated his personal policy abut not acting directly against anyone with the title of Baron or Prince except in self defence.

This was in many ways an economic policy as barons would hire him knowing that should their victim hire the Gangrel in return they themselves would be safe from reprisal. This meant that Marius often made a fortune in boons and other favours by working for both sides, with the full knowledge of each party.

"I can offer your ghouls sanctuary here for the duration of this dispute, of course..." The 'but' that Michael was expecting never came. "...and should you succeed in destroying the sisters I will be available to clean up the mess and any aftermath. If of course the house contains retrievable evidence of their crimes against kindred and kine then all the better." The coterie was well aware that the majority of the kindred of Los Angeles thought of the Blounts as sweet old ladies with very flexible policies on feeding rights. Their final deaths at the coteries hands would therefore almost certainly lead to reprisals unless they could justify their attack in some tangible manner.

Leanna - Duskborn
'Shepherdess' of Marius's Blood Dolls
While they had been talking Leanna had appeared at the top of the stairs that had led them to the garden. "If those of you who require sustenance would like to follow me I have made the necessary arrangements."

Hope stayed behind as the others left. "I'm very hungry..." She said. "...and I wouldn't want to risk your hospitality by draining one of your blood dolls dry...I also have issues with feeding on women..." Marius nodded and opened a vein in his arm and Hope drank, noting as she did how much more enjoyable kindred vitae was to consume than mortal blood.

Storytellers Note - Hope has the 'unbondable' merit so has no compunctions about drinking from other kindred. She is also getting to like it a little too much, I may have to weave that into the chronicle.

Once he was sure that the vulnerable of his staff were safely housed and that the kindred were fed he turned the conversation to price. "I will take a major boon from each of you here..." Michael had actually been expecting the price to be considerably higher. "...which you understand is generous on my part. Considering what's at stake, a Life Boon wouldn't be an unreasonable request. However as they put Heather in danger albeit unknowingly I'll give you the discounted rate." Michael had little option but to accept though the reason for the fixer's generosity (such as it was) seemed spurious somehow. Having no time to worry about it now he once again gave his thanks as the others prepared for the assault upon the Blounts mansion in Glendale. "While I'm here, do you know if the Malkavian known as 'Moon Ray' is in LA anywhere?"

'The Cobweb'
Marius told him that he had heard nothing of the notorious masquerade breacher being in LA. He did however admit that the aforementioned Malkavian had a talent for finding his way in and out of cities without notice. Well, until he started randomly embracing mortals that is. Michael also learnt that unusually for his clan he seemed not to register in the cobweb of networked thoughts that characterised the Malkavians unless he wished to do so. This meant that his appearances were often even a surprise to his own clan.

Daniel acquired his ghoul Keith's remaining pipe-bombs and told him and Andrew that they were to remain here as what the coterie was about to face was out of their league by a considerable margin. As they reached the garage the Banu Haqim saw that his car and Michael's had been partially repaired. His roof had been reattached and an effective but quick repair had been made upon the holes in the armour of Michael's Cadillac.

Dion had turned down the offer of a place within the apartments and had stated that his place was with Michael. He had also acquired an Ultimax 100 LMG, a carrying bag for extra hundred round drums and a bulletproof vest with a slot in the front containing a reinforcing plate. "Fiorenza has an account that her operatives are allowed to draw upon if they deem it necessary." He explained.

Then Michael's phone rang.

Scene Six - Bait
Your phone begins to ring, the number is that of the head security guard at your home. The voice on the other end is panicked "There's some-one in the house, I sent two guards to investigate and had Shauna lock her self in the room but they haven't reported in. I'm going to send the others down to back them up and protect the girl myself..."

You hear the sound of splintering wood "What the fuck..." then the phone goes silent.

As Michael began to rush to the car he was intercepted by Daniel. "It could be an ambush. If we're going...we ALL go..." Michael gave Daniel the code to the panic room in the house in the hope that Shauna had made it in there safely. The four of them then headed to the baron's home to see if anything could be done.

There's blood and viscera everywhere. Sitting on the living room table are five wine glasses, each containing a pair of eyes, and ears. The Latin words Ipsos and Custodes followed by a question mark have been scratched into the wood nearby with what looks like a claw.

Storytellers Note - I Imagine that's the sort of thing that insane, serial killing, diablerist, Toreador think is funny...

Daniel noted but decided not to share with Michael that the precision with which the eyes and ears have been removed was surgically precise. This was particularly impressive considering that it looked like the task had been performed with a number of kitchen utensils that were piled up nearby. The code Daniel had been given turned out to be unnecessary as the panic-room door had been ripped from it's hinges. There was however no sign of Shauna.

Craving any sign that she might still be alive, Michael once again attempted to force a premonition. This time focused upon Shauna rather than Roach.

There is a cage in a corpse filled room, in the cage Shauna is screaming and fighting to escape to no avail. Looking up at it are two women who are undoubtedly the Blount sisters. One begins to laugh as the other one turns around. Inexplicably she turns as if looking back at you looking at them. It feels as if they are sharing your premonition rather than merely being the subject of it and it takes all your willpower to pull yourself away. Two things are now certain to you, firstly they have Shauna and secondly they are waiting for you to come and get her.

Michael relayed his certainty to the others that the Blounts had taken Shauna though they needed no convincing after the events of the last few days. All present also informed Michael with varying degrees of diplomacy that his lack of combat abilities would make him a hindrance rather than a help in any assault. He knew that they were correct but his common sense was being bypassed by his desire to rescue Shauna.

The Cabbie - Kindred Transporter
He was also certain that this was exactly why the sisters had done it. "We're going to need both vehicles. Can you get back to the house safely?" Asked Daniel. Before he could answer the kindred transporter known only as 'The Cabbie' pulled up outside his home.

This wasn't the first time that the driver had arrived at a pick-up before the customer even knew they wanted to go anywhere. Many believed the cab driver was Malkavian though he was notoriously quiet on the subject of his lineage.

"Take him back to Hallowbrook, please." said Daniel while Hope and Vin were busy double-checking their weapons. The Cabbie looked at him and the Banu Haqim got the uncomfortable impression that what he had said was wrong in some way. Putting the feeling down to concerns about their upcoming mission he returned to the others. As the cab pulled away, Michael rang Victoria to say he had another clean-up job for her and to add it to his growing bill. Then with an uncharacteristic lack of etiquette hung up without even asking for a price.

Scene Seven - The Death House
Victoria Anne - Ghoul of Marius
Notoriously Unpredictable
Hope, Daniel, Vin and the ghoul Dion were discussing strategy when the Cabbie pulled up next to them with Michael in the back. As Daniel approached, the Cabbie turned to him and spoke. "This is where he wanted to go..." and then drove away leaving Michael with the others.

Though they were aware that there must be other ways into the house they were hamstrung by having had no time to plan or do any reconnaissance so resigned themselves to a direct assault. It was then that Daniel's phone rang, he was surprised to hear Victoria on the other and as it wasn't her usual number. "Marius has a policy against acting directly against Barons or de-facto Barons. I however do not." She then hung up.

A moment later a picture file arrived from an unknown number. It was an aerial view of the Blounts home and surrounding area with two red x's superimposed over it. One was by a nearby river, the other high up in the hills. Though there was no additional information Daniel could only presume that these were the other entrances or exits into the cave network below the Blounts mansion.

As the marked area in the hills was a significant distance away they chose to utilise the one by the nearby river. A team consisting of Hope, Michael and Dion would attempt entry via this suspected postern while Daniel and Vin attacked directly to hopefully draw attention away from the infiltrators.

After some discussion about what would constitute a good enough distraction, Daniel filled his damaged car with the remainder of his ghouls pipe bombs and set the timers while Vin wedged the accelerator panel down. Then they let it go.

As Daniel's car roared towards the front of the mansion, the Blounts Brujah henchman chose that unfortunate moment to investigate the commotion and was promptly hit by a car as he opened the door. It was possible that his undead resilience would have enabled him to survive the impact if it wasn't for the detonation of the five pipe-bombs within. Daniel's ghoul was an ex military man and former vigilante and had made the bombs from military grade explosives he had acquired and had considerable skill in that area. The fact that the front of the building then collapsed on what was left of the Brujah's immolated body was therefore a somewhat unnecessary finale to his demise.

Storytellers Note - Yes, I know...

Hearing the detonation from a cave-mouth that matched the 'X' on Daniel's map the infiltration team entered, figuring correctly that was there cue that the assault had begun. Hope took the lead, with Michael in the middle and the ghoul Dion covering the rear with his recently acquired LMG.

Hope was one hundred percent sure that the tunnel network would be riddled with traps and given that the Blounts hunted both kindred and kine that there would be devices in place to deal with either. She therefore became instantly suspicious that there were holes along one side of the tunnel wall at about chest height.

After tossing some debris along the passage with no reaction she decided to try something that closer matched a persons weight. With strength far beyond that which her frame would indicate she hauled a large boulder from the river at the tunnel entrance and sent it bouncing along the suspect section. As several dozen spiral tipped stakes embedded themselves in the opposite wall, Hope sighed at the thought that she'd probably now need to drag that boulder along with them the whole fucking way.

Vin and Daniel climbed through the rubble that now made up the front of the sisters home. Noting that Vin was scraping something from his boot that looked suspiciously like burnt flesh, Daniel quipped "So much for the valet parking." It wasn't a great joke but it seemed to lighten Vin's mood and he smiled for the first time in days. Within the wreckage of the mansion they found a door which they suspected led down into the cellar.

After Vin casually hurled aside the blocking pieces of masonry and timber, Daniel examined the door frame noting that it looked a little too thick. A slight groove along the frames edge matched an indentation in front of the door both top and bottom. Vin handed Daniel a length of timber and he opened the door handle with it only to have it chopped cleanly in two by a guillotine blade concealed in the frame. After checking for any secondary 'surprises' Daniel opened the door which led to a flight of stairs leading down. Now quite paranoid he asked Vin to lob a piece of masonry down the stairs.

The stairway promptly folded inwards becoming a steep slope leading to a trapdoor which had opened simultaneously at the bottom. The fact that there was no handrail at all would have made it next to impossible to stop yourself plummeting into the pit at the stairs base. Wedging his back against one wall and his feet upon the one opposite, the Banu Haqim gradually edged himself down the stairway until nearly at the bottom.

Near the wall, past the location of the pit was a wooden handled lever, Immediately suspicious of something so obviously placed, Daniel carefully drew his sword and took a swing at it only to slice through the painted wax covering of a razor sharp blade. Any kindred or kine who pulled that lever with bare hands would have lost all their fingers.

Storytellers Note - All credit for the wax-coated blade trap goes to 'The Warlock of Firetop Mountain' Fighting Fantasy game-book where it once cost a nine year old me some stamina and a point of skill...

Having little choice, Daniel leapt from the stairway into the room below. Around the corner was a far more mundane looking switch which he discovered in a hidden recess. After some consideration he pressed it and was relieved to discover that it locked the stairs in place.

Wandering what delightful surprises the Blounts yet had in store, he and Vin examined the basement room in which they now found themselves. The room in which Vin and Daniel now stood contained two doors and neither seemed obviously trapped being devoid of trap doors in the floor and guillotines in the frame. It was unfortunate for Daniel that they didn't examine the ceiling behind them.

Hope meanwhile had bypassed a spiked and hinged ceiling plate designed to impale both they who triggered the trap and the person behind them, another set of explosively propelled stakes and disabled a pulley system which though she had no idea what it might have activated was reasonably sure that it would have been very horrible indeed.

Storytellers Note - I became a victim of my own success at this point as the feeling of paranoia I'd induced in the players made opening every door take about twenty minutes...

An incredibly neat 'Trophy Room'...?
As the basement door was opened a whirring noise could be heard from behind Daniel as an angled piece of wood with a vicious spike on one end emerged from a ratchet mechanism perfectly angled to drive the point through a victims back from the rear. Fortunately for Daniel his paranoia was so acute at this point that as soon as he heard a noise he moved aside only taking a minor wound as apposed to being driven into torpor.

The room ahead is filled with carefully folded clothes, piles of shoes and various personal belongings carefully separated into piles of similar items and boxes too. Within the boxes are wallets, rings, watches and so on, many quite old. It seems that this is some-ones lovingly collated trophy collection and possibly a source of some tangible evidence of the sisters crimes.

Deciding to return here later they turned their attention to the second door. However before Daniel began his increasingly long-winded but entirely reasonable examinations of the door ahead, A bored and frustrated Vin kicked it off it's hinges.

The corridor ahead had wooden slats running across it which Daniel carefully prodded with his falcata while Vin tapped the walls with the pommel of his machete, possibly only because he'd seen it done in movies. Several of the floorboards were quite thin and the body weight of a person was sufficient to drive ones foot through onto spikes and blades beneath, though they were easily avoided once noted. Now he had began to think about it the traps actually were beginning to make sense if you thought of them as preventing escape rather than entry and also that the Blounts were sadists. An escapee would reach the final stairway, with crippled legs, one hand and just as they believed they were free they would either plummet into a spiked pit or be sliced in half by a descending blade. Knowing that there was a method to it actually made Daniel hate them even more.

Hope was beginning to have the same feelings of frustration as Vin was having and bypassed the next potential trap by leaping some ten metres along the corridor and drop kicking the door at the end off it's hinges. As she fell to the floor in the next room her unconventional method of entry meant that a trap identical to the one that had caught Daniel (albeit superficially) had missed her completely. Feeling somewhat smug Hope got to her feet and had a look around.

Scene Eight - The Inner Sanctum
This room stinks of chemicals and like most of the rest of the house also of rotting flesh and bodily excretions. A large circular saw is set up in the corner of the room and barrels of chemicals are piled up in one corner. There are three discoloured and stained baths on the opposite side one of which is filled with some foul smelling mixture. Within the mixture are body parts that are almost completely dissolved floating in a mixture of various acids. A layer of human fat sits upon the top.

This final discovery is made all the more horrifying when you find the containers of preserved human fat in the fridge near an elaborate set up for making candles. Ribbons, wrapping paper and scented oils upon a table nearby painting a terrible mental picture as you recall that the Blounts are renowned in the mortal world for sending home-made candles as gifts. You presume that the thought of their political and business contacts burning candles made of their victims is somehow amusing to them.

His recent forcing of premonitions had seemingly awakened something in Michael and this time one came upon him unbidden as he gazed on the body parts. He could see a couple, a man and a younger woman, one had given the other a watch as a gift with a name engraved on the back. Then a man screaming in terror as he was dragged into this very room followed by a strong image of a wrinkled hand dropping the watch into a cardboard box filled with a myriad of others. 

As Hope used her supernatural strength to destroy the one door ahead she could hear a similar noise from the opposite corner as Vin entered the chamber a moment after a splintered door heralded his arrival. Reunited once more the coterie and the ghoul Dion examined the latest of the horrors to face them.

Storytellers Note - This was a bit 'convenient' I know but it was important for the story that they encountered everything from here onward, together. Let's just hope that none of them try to draw a map of the areas they've been through, lol.

The room you find yourself in is filled with medieval torture devices, restored and also showing signs of regular use. Brutal and ancient weapons also are arranged in a display along one wall.

Hope helped herself to a vicious looking spiked warhammer, deeming it a suitable weapon with which to bludgeon to death the Blounts when she next encountered them. They then continued deeper into what was evidently the Blounts inner sanctum of depravity and torture.

Each of the subsequent rooms were testaments to diseased minds given free rein to wallow in evil. One contained racks whose mechanisms were clearly designed to dismember rather than stretch, another had a guillotine fixed on a carefully measured table where the marks upon it clearly indicated that the victims were sliced apart inch by inch, others defied explanation which may well have been for the best and finally an area where stone weights gradually increasing in size crushed their victims to death over a period of time. Several of these still had pulverised skeletons beneath them both recent and ancient.

As Vin was trying to work out what a giant corkscrew below a tall cylindrical cage was actually meant to be for, all those with preternatural senses heard sobbing from behind the next doorway. After the now mandatory paranoid examination of the door ahead revealed nothing they carried on.

They now found themselves in an area that seemed to have been built into the stone tunnels beneath the house. The rectangular chamber had two heavy duty doors in the long wall ahead of them, both with a barred window in the centre. Sobbing could be heard from the one on the right, but from the leftmost there was silence. On closer examination through the locked door on the right's window a corridor could be seen leading to another similar door from which the noises could be heard. Though every instinct of Michael's was to investigate, time was of the essence and a trap likely so he reluctantly left the sobbing prisoner behind, vowing to return later.

Szlachta - Fleshcrafted Warghouls
Storytellers Note - Admittedly I was piling on the moral choices this session but they were facing a pair of very sick minds. Also, this is a vampire chronicle...

The unlocked one on the left led to a series of cages containing the deformed and mutated creatures that had attacked Hope. Apparently the gifts that the Blounts had inherited from the diablerized Tzimisce also included the creation of war ghouls. Expecting that at any moment the cages would be opened and the horde set upon them they crossed the passage at full alert but nothing stirred.

Wishing to deprive the sisters of this weapon in their arsenal, those with suppressed firearms or bladed weapons put each one out of it's misery in turn. Each one died in complete silence and the coterie moved on not sure whether they had been merciful or had committed cold-blooded murder. Ahead a set of double doors blocked their path. The doors were heavy and windowless and as the coterie approached they felt an ominous weight upon them as if something was waiting for them beyond. Readying the Barrett he'd been carrying the whole time, Daniel prepared himself to take a shot as the others prepared their own weapons.

Scene Nine - Confrontation

As the doors were hurled open, Daniel had a moment to notice that they were now within a vast natural cavern before spotting the two sisters standing almost nonchalantly at the far side. His skill as a sniper supplemented by supernatural levels of awareness the Banu Haqim aimed and fired in a single motion. The high-explosive incendiary, armour-piercing ammunition punched into the chest of the silver-haired of the pair and detonated spectacularly, blowing her to pieces. Fragments of bone sliced into the blue-haired ones throat and she fell to the floor gurgling.

Daniel's moment of triumph was turned upside-down as he realised there was too much blood and living tissue for the target to have been kindred.

The Blount Sisters - Hunting Together
The sisters had undoubtedly flesh-crafted an image of themselves onto some helpless mortals and the Banu Haqim had immolated them in his haste to get the kill. Shame at the killing of innocents, fought with the knowledge that he had done so unwittingly.

Before he could fully come to grip with the act, the nightmarish thing that had attacked both their cars as they travelled to downtown and Hope as she had patrolled alone, propelled itself towards them from the darkness above. Mercifully only one of the sisters was there though that led to the question of what exactly the other sister was doing. With no time to contemplate such matters the coterie opened fire at the airborne monstrosity.

Solid shotgun slugs and buckshot, 5.56mm LMG rounds and .357 magnum shells filled the air as the creature weathered the onslaught and was almost upon them. Deciding to take the battle to the enemy, the gangrel Hope leapt at them, claws at full extension and sliced into the wing membranes bringing them both crashing down in a tangle of limbs. With surprising dexterity the winged creature gained it's footing first and hurled Hope effortlessly across the cavern into the wall with a sickening crunch.

Shrugging aside his feelings of self doubt, Daniel switched targets and sent a single round centre mass into their enemy. The round detonated within undead flesh but despite the explosive power tearing apart spurs of bone and layers of natural armour, the incendiary effect seemed to not effect the damage at all. The wound began to knit back together almost instantly and the earlier bullet holes and wing damage were now gone as if they had never happened.

Vin had switched to his trusty machete and took a swing at the throat of their foe only to have it dance back at the last second, the strike missing by barely an inch. Before he could react in his own defence, dagger like claws tore into his shoulder and he was tossed aside like a rag-doll. Dion had braced himself and emptied the rest of his hundred round drum into whichever sister this was as soon as there was a gap in which to shoot. As soon as the weapon clicked empty, he began to reload as calmly as if he was at a shooting range rather than in a fight to the death. Unfamiliar with the stresses of combat, Michael missed with his own handgun.

The instant Dion stopped firing, Hope entered the combat once more, her abilities enhanced by her blood in every way she knew how and managed to cause several deep wounds though received as many in return. Back on his feet, Vin attacked once more with his blade and yelled in frustration as the blow glanced off a ridge of bone. In the moment of distraction, the sister grabbed him by the neck, pulled him close and bit deep into his throat. Switching her emphasis in light of her companions plight, the Gangrel attacked the arm holding the Brujah in place and was punched to the ground for her efforts. With his melee orientated coterie mates in the way, Daniel switched to his sword and joined them. Knowing he was nothing but an obstacle in such a battle, Dion fell back dropped into a shooting position and waited for an opportunity to strike.

With it's wounds healing almost as fast as they inflicted them, the coterie was forced onto the defensive, occupying the monster with attacks while another healed themselves. With their reserves of vitae dwindling the outcome of the battle seemed only to be a matter of time. As if to reinforce this point a punch to the face very nearly removed the Banu Haqim's jaw, sending him sprawling backwards. As sure of her victory as they were of their own defeat Enid took to the air, laughing mockingly as she did.

"Is this all you have?" She spread her arms, palms forward as if to emphasise her point. "To think, my sister Edith was worried about you rabble. Preparing the duplicates, taking a hostage, making her contingency plans..." the scorn in her voice is palpable. "...rather than simply joining me in the pleasure of your slaughter. I'm beginning to worry that her heart isn't in this anymore..."

Storytellers Note - Yes...I'm aware that mid-combat speech making is a bit of a trope but this one is arrogant and insane so it felt right. I also wanted a break in the combat just to let the players wind down a little as it was getting a little tense at the table.

Having landed by his rifle, Daniel took aim at the hovering creature, ignoring his extensive injuries and cut short it's rant with a fifty calibre anti-materiel round to the chest. Seemingly surprised that there was still any fight in her prey she launched herself at the sniper crushing his ribs. Seeing that Daniel was mere moments from being beaten into torpor, Vin and Hope reentered the combat from both sides as Dion and Michael opened fire once more with wildly different degrees of success.

Having gained some measure of their foe, Hope stuck more precisely trying to slice between the bony armour plates. Vin's own strike sliced through the left wing as he enhanced his strength beyond it's normal limits. Now with her reserves of vitae depleted, Hope let the beast take control and in a state of temporarily focused frenzy drove her fangs into Enid's throat and began to drink.

Gripping tightly and with claws driven into monstrous flesh to prevent her being shook loose she began to drain the precious blood from their enemy. Concentrating solely on the gangrel at her throat she could do little but attempt to fend of Vin's concerted attack to her back. Daniel took aim at the knee joint and with a precision shot between both Hope and Vin left the limb hanging on by a thread of tissue. Now lacking the reserves of blood to heal at will due to Hope draining her, the movements of their enemy became panicked as her overconfidence was punished by the coteries renewed vigour.

Now desperate to escape she ripped Hope from her throat and hurled her aside despite the damage as claws tore free also. She then launched herself into the air, screaming for her sister Edith as the coterie emptied the last of the ammunition in their magazines, drums and cylinders at her back. As she reached the rear of the cavern she grabbed the corpse of the second of the fleshcrafted, sisters and could be seen returning to humanoid form as she ran into the darkness of the rock strewn area furthest from them.

Scene Ten - Sisters
Dion - Ghoul of Fiorenza
Coterie Ally
Anxious to continue the pursuit but conscious that there was another sister still to be accounted for the coterie took a moment to compose themselves. Being most in need of blood, Daniel was forced to feed from the corpse of the innocent he'd killed, despite his reluctance to do so. Hope's hunger had been adequately sated by the vitae of Enid but Vin was dangerously close to collapse. Knowing that he was more use to the coterie as nourishment than ally, Dion offered his blood to Vin who drank deeply but stopped himself before causing permanent damage. As healed as possible and with weapons reloaded, they continued the pursuit.

As you enter what you hope is the final room of the death houses labyrinthine cellar you find a room that more resembles a cave, with several exits leading off into the dark. A series of cages of various sizes and shapes are suspended from spiked chains that lead into the darkness above. A battered and bruised but otherwise alive Shauna is in a tall and thin, centrally placed gibbet-like prison.

'The Sister' - Toreador Diablerist
In the centre of the room you see a young woman with her fangs in the throat of what is obviously one of the Blount Sisters, just as the victim turns to ash. As the diablerist turns around you can see a shapely and attractive woman in fashionable clothing. The beauty does not extend to the eyes however as you recognise the malice within. "Now we can be together forever, as one, as we always wanted. With me in control Enid should be less prone to silliness and we can avoid events such as this one. Our new existence deserved a new look I thought..."

The coterie as one aimed weapons in her direction or drew their blades and advanced.

"Don't be too hasty now..." She holds up a syringe of dark liquid "...Your mortal pet is as we speak dying from a poison of our own creation that will tear them apart in the most agonising death imaginable." "If you administer it now they may survive, if you pursue me, then perhaps not..." She throws the vial through the air towards you and then in a Blink disappears. In which of the three passages however it's impossible to tell.

Daniel caught the syringe in mid air as Vin charged down the central passage, one being as likely as the others in his pursuit of the remaining sister. Hope picked one of the other passages at random as Michael lowered the cage containing Shauna for Daniel to administer the antidote. Daniel however paused as something about the scenario bothered him. That they could develop a poison is reasonable enough given their experience, supernatural abilities and the fact that many exist and are freely available. Developing an antidote however requires significant expense and medical facilities, not to mention many years of research. Daniel's first thought was why would they even bother?

Shawna Jones - Hostage
Examining Shawna closely he could see no signs of poisoning only mistreatment. All her other symptoms matched shock rather than any hint that a toxin was in her system. He was sure that the contents of the syringe was the poison they mentioned. It would be just like the sisters to have the coterie be responsible for the death of an innocent victim of the situation just as they'd made Daniel kill the copies of the sisters themselves. Assuring his Baron that he was correct he left Shawna in his care then Daniel took the remaining passage way...

Storytellers Note - Foiled again...I mean the Blounts have been foiled again...yes...that's definitely what I meant...

Both Vin and Daniel found themselves at dead ends. Vin's passage had been sealed by a cave-in and Daniel's simply became too narrow to traverse any further. Frustrated beyond measure and hoping that the others were having more luck, Vin backtracked to the main cavern where he met the equally dejected Daniel. Hope however had yet to return.

The passageway twisted and turned but had been free of the formerly ubiquitous surprises the Blounts left everywhere. Hope eventually found herself at the foot of a rusty but sturdy ladder leading upwards. With no sign of the others and time of the essence she climbed to the top and pushed open the heavy hatch she discovered there. The hatch led to a ledge, sheltered by an overhang of rock and of the remaining sister there was no sign. For a moment she thought she could hear laughter on the wind but perhaps it was simply her imagination. Realising that she had been thwarted at the last she returned, dejected to the rest of her coterie.

Their last hope of finding the missing Roach was the cell from which the sobbing emerged but this turned out to be simply a recording protected by a particularly unpleasant pit trap which Vin bypassed by systematically destroying everything in his path. In fact the only signs of his presence was a neatly stacked pile of clothing in one of the raised cages which may or may not have once been his. It certainly looked like his but there was still some doubt. The best they could hope for was that he had indeed been taken by his sire and had convinced them that he believed in their vision for the future.

Epilogue - Marius
Marius Walker - Autarkis Gangrel
'Fixer' of Problems
The coterie returned to Marius's Hallowbrook Apartments and explained the events of the evening. The climax of the tale was the revelation that the sisters were now one and that the death of the other had not been at their hands.

"First things first..." Said Marius. "...the mansion is a simple fix. The usual gas explosion story will do, especially when combined with the cave network below which I bet isn't acknowledged anywhere in the building plans." "The difficult bit will be the slander campaign against them in both the kindred and kine communities. That will take time..." He paused as Victoria entered with some paperwork which looked suspiciously like a map of the cave network beneath the house. Victoria made eye-contact with Daniel as she entered, the look clearly indicating the consequences of mentioning the message she had sent him "...the first week will be the most difficult for you..." continued Marius " there may be retaliations by those who still believe that the Blounts were the innocent party before the full story can be disseminated throughout our kind."

"Until then, find yourself a secure location and keep your heads down..."

To be Continued in 'Aftermath' - Part One

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

This session got a little tense at times so a couple of breaks were needed. Also my subtle hints about "Finishing this story next time..." were completely ignored. We finished at four thirty AM the next day...

The coterie has another arch-enemy, but they also now control all three of the North-East baronies of the Anarch Free States. Now let's see if they can keep hold of them...

I've used pictures of real people to represent some of the characters and art for others so in no particular order Michael Tomassio is represented by the actor Matt Bomer, Johnny 'Roach' West is quite obviously Kurt Cobain, 'Vin' is the actor Scott Adkins, Dr Matthews is Mads Mikkelsen, Hope is Deborah Ann Woll, Marie is Eva Greene, Mr Hertz is Charles Dance, Karen Anatos is Christina Hendricks, Priya Haynes is Gabrielle Union, Keith Chang is Daniel Dae Kim, Sarah is Elesha Thorn, Andrew is Ray Stephenson, Leanna is Leeanna Vamp, Victoria is Lilith May, Dion is Clark Gregg, Shawna Jones is Ashley Callingbull 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...
Related Posts with Thumbnails