Friday 25 October 2019

Vampire the Masquerade V5 - Session Fifty One - The Messiah Complex (Part Three)

I'm currently running a Vampire the Masquerade chronicle using the 5th Edition rule-set for a small group of fellow role-players. These are the chronicles of their adventures.
Our campaign is set in Los Angeles and features a small group of Camarilla agents sent into the 'Free States' to search for ways to once again bring the Ivory Tower to dominance under the pretence of being disillusioned neonates looking for the freedom of the Anarch way of life. Now with a barony of their own it's time to consolidate their position and then plan their next move.
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.
Chronicle One - 'Infiltrate LA' 
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
Chronicle Two - 'Foothold LA' 
Solo Session - 'Hostile Takeover'
Story Four - 'Countdown' - Part OneTwo and Three
Story Five - 'The Missing Chantry' - Part OneTwoThreeFour and Five
Solo Session - 'The Anaheim Assassination'
Story Six - 'A Meeting of Barons' - Part OneTwo and Three
Story Seven - 'The Carmelita Situation' - Part OneTwo and Three
Story Eight - 'The Blount Sisters' - Part One and Two
Story Nine - 'Blood Money' - Part OneTwoThreeFour, Five and Six
Story Ten - 'Anathema' - Part One and Two
Story Eleven - 'Predators and Prey' aka 'The Blount Sisters' - Part Three
Story Twelve - 'Aftermath' - Part One and Two
Story Thirteen - 'The Messiah Complex' - Part 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
Priya Haynes - Gangrel, Hound
Carla Doyle - Gangrel, Hound
Orla Riviera - 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.

With the weapon thefts, kidnappings and mapping of the sewers in Los Angeles seemingly all being perpetrated by Thin-bloods and Caitiff, the coterie now needs to find if these are separate groups with their own agendas or if they are different threads of the same grand conspiracy.

Storytellers Note - This story begins at the exact moment the last session ended so there were no hand-outs this time. It's also another epic double session so get a drink and make some popcorn...

Scene Fourteen - The Scene of the Crime
The decapitated corpse of Denzel Weber is on the ground along with your own prone forms having taken cover from the sniper fire that killed the ghoul you were questioning.

From the angle of the shot, the sniper seems to have been firing from the roof of what was left of the building opposite, through the gap in the warehouse wall caused by the detonation of the van. In the distance you can hear the sound of multiple police sirens and the familiar noise of at least one approaching helicopter overhead. You estimate you have three minutes at the most before you are discovered.

Hope surveyed the bodies scattered like rag-dolls around the warehouse and noted that a number definitely looked like something other than a gang-banger had done the damage.

Vincent 'Vin' Ghast - Brujah
A Bloody Mess
While she contemplated how best to cover up the signs of kindred involvement, Vin strolled over and stomped downwards on a clawed rib-cage scattering fragments of bone, blood and flesh into the air. Though not the most sophisticated solution, Hope had to admit that it did remove any obvious traces of fang and claw, though Vin now looked like someone had dipped him in a bath of blood.

Meanwhile, Daniel had moved with preternatural speed across the gap between the buildings towards the sniper. Though capable of travelling at barely perceptible speeds, the sniper still managed to put a round through his kneecap, the force almost severing the leg. Forcing his Vitae to the wound and repairing the damage he staggered to his feet just as a second round hit him in the thigh, shattering bone and pulverising undead flesh.

Knowing that Daniel was stubborn enough to make another attempt, Hope ran from her cover and leapt the last fifteen metres to land by the Banu Haqim and hopefully would give the uncannily precise sniper a second target. However no third shot came. It was almost as if the sniper didn't actually want them dead, as the shot that took out Daniel's knee could have just as easily been put through head or heart. Daniel nodded in the direction that the shots were coming from and with Hope's help limped back towards the kidnappers hideout. Despite being a pair of easy targets, the sniper made no further shots. Though this confirmed both their theories, it also prompted several new questions that they would have to ponder another time.

Vin had destroyed any obvious traces of unnatural attacks but now looked like he'd been painted red and had entrails added as accessories. He didn't seem in the least concerned however. "We're leaving now, right?" asked Hope.

Scene Fifteen - The Children of the Swarm
The basement exit to the sewers is via a heavy circular plate of metal, with two holes in the top, presumably to fit some sort of removal tool. However, no such device appears to be nearby.

"Vin, move that will you..." said Daniel. Vin lent over, put a finger in each of the tool holes and twisted the cover off before tossing it casually aside and climbing down the ladder first. The unconscious girl discovered by Hope and saved by Daniel was handed down to him. Hope then took the incendiary grenade she had salvaged from the booby trapped corridor, pulled the pin and tossed the explosive onto the pile of bodies in order to further eliminate any evidence of their presence.

The area below is rectangular with the only other exit being a broad corridor on the opposite side, protected by an ageing metal gate secured by a lock and chain. You can hear a commotion from the opposite side though it's some distance away. It sounds like a ferocious fight is going on, or was, as a single scream seems to signal it's end and all becomes quiet.

Quinn - Gangrel
Childe of the Mistress of the Swarm
Hope looked around for something to secure the entrance through which they'd just emerged but could see nothing suitable. They briefly considered using one of the rungs from the ladder but they just weren't long enough to drive it through the covers handles and still wedge it closed. While Vin continuing to look for something that might be of use, Hope walked over to the gate to see what had caused and ended the commotion ahead.

A familiar figure is walking down the corridor, surrounded by a rag-tag horde made up of the dregs of humanity, or perhaps of what was once humanity. Their leaders, dreadlocks writhe with a life of their own and his eyes seem to glow with an inner light. He casually bends one of the bars on the gate, reaches through the gap and rips the lock and chain from the gate with one hand before opening the gate almost theatrically.

Storytellers Note - The players last met this particular gentlemen when he, his sire and the rest of the swarm were responsible for a significant number of deaths. This session HERE in fact.

"There's a service area three hundred yards down on the right. Wait there while I secure the authorities potential point of ingress..." The voice is melodic and despite his appearance the Gangrel does seem to have significant personal charisma.

One of the Swarm with an Uncanny Grip
"Thanks, I guess..." Said Hope. Daniel was slightly more sincere "Hello Quinn." Vin shifted the girl he was carrying so she rested comfortably over one shoulder and slid his hand under his jacket, ready to draw his machete should the situation deteriorate.

Four of the swarm head towards the ladder, two climb up the sheer wall and grip the ladders sides at the top, while two more grip it at the base and they rip it from the wall. One of the upper pair climbs across the ceiling like a spider, produces a bar from his tattered coat and wedges it through the handles below the sewer grate and into the wall. He then drops to the ground and joins the others. "Well? Are you coming or not?.."

With their only other exit blocked and the warehouse no doubt full of police officers, they had little choice but to take the route indicated. As one of the rag-tag horde moved a little too close to the woman he was carrying Vin glared at him and watched in satisfaction as they backed away. As they passed through the gate a woman in the tattered remnants of a Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) uniform replaced the chain and lock with a significantly higher quality one than the dread-locked figure had removed.

'The Swarm'
Childer, Ghouls, Blood Bound and Herd
Several more of the swarm members were getting a bit too close to the girl over Vin's shoulder, seemingly growing braver as their numbers increased, picking up more of them as they passed each alcove and corridor. A swift back-hand from the Brujah sent one stumbling back and the others took the hint and gave him some space. Vin decided that a more permanent lesson might be needed if they continued to get in his way.

The aforementioned service area is a mess. It looks like seven or eight people were using it as a base of operations judging from the mattresses, sleeping bags and miscellaneous personal belongings. The bloodstains along the approach corridor and odd piece of viscera here and there indicate that the inhabitants met a grisly end some point very recently. Two of the swarm are arguing over an assault rifle presumably taken from one of the deceased inhabitants. The argument ends abruptly as the one tears the throat out of the other and the previously uninterested other swarm members fall upon the body and begin to feed. "Survival of the fittest..." says your guide with a wide grin that reveals a mouth filled with jagged fangs. "...of course Darwin originally used the phrase natural selection but there's nothing natural about us now is there..."

The Mistress of the Swarm - Gangrel
"Not that we don't appreciate your assistance..." stated Daniel. "...but why exactly are you helping us?" Quinn was surprisingly candid with his reply. "Marius passed his desires onto our mistress who passed them onto me. He apparently wishes your investigations into the activities both above and below ground to continue, relatively unmolested, for the time being at least. This camp was waiting in ambush for you, we ambushed them instead, they were looking the wrong way and I lost no-one of importance..." Daniel then made some enquiries about any weapons that had been discovered on the bodies of the foiled ambushers, hoping to match them to some of those that had been stolen from gun shops around LA.

Quinn took an AK47 from one of the rag-tag horde and tossed it to Daniel. The weapon was a military model that had been deactivated and then at some point recently returned to fully automatic fire capability. The serial number had unfortunately been removed and the ammunition within was mundane, being neither amour piercing nor incendiary. It could however have quite easily have been taken during one of the robberies so Daniel filed it away as a connection to the other crimes, albeit a tenuous one.

Los Angeles Police - On the Scene
A search of the bodies was equally fruitless as the personal belongings scattered around did not include identification of any kind. "Were they definitely kindred?" asked Daniel. "They certainly all tasted like kindred." was the somewhat disconcerting reply. Though the Banu Haqim mentioned heading back to his car so they could leave with the girl, both Quinn and Hope were concerned that the police may be investigating a wide enough area to make that dangerous.

The conversation was interrupted by a sickening crunch as Vin hurled one of the swarm against the wall of the corridor, then drove his foot downwards, decapitating their slumped body instantly. "Keep your fucking hands off the girl and your faces out of my gear or I'll fucking kill you all..." he informed the surrounding horde in an extremely calm voice, completely out of keeping with the violent act he'd just committed.

A calm Vin was usually a bad sign as it generally meant he was working out what order he was going to start killing people in. Hope and Daniel braced themselves for a reaction from Quinn and his creatures. There was none.

Though none of the creatures approached the Brujah closer than six feet from that point onward. Quinn for his part didn't even look in the direction of the incident though two of his followers grabbed the corpse and bought it with them. "I'll take you back to Downtown with us and you can find a way to the surface from there." Offered Quinn.

The swarm seemed to become less frenzied and more subdued as they travelled through the network, almost like a mortal coming down from some amphetamine or adrenaline high. Daniel theorised that this was some physical or mental effect imbued within them by their mistress before they were sent to perform acts of aggression.

'The Golden-Haired Child'
Unknown Kindred
Vin usually utilised his unnatural abilities of personal presence for intimidation purposes but on this occasion used them for the unfamiliar task of extracting information in a none aggressive manner. Using his powers to cause awe rather than fear he struck up a conversation with Quinn about just how exactly they had ended up in Los Angeles. Whatever he attempted was apparently a success as Quinn opened up somewhat. "We we bought to LA by the golden-haired childe, though as expected he promptly forgot about us once the task was complete. Our mistress had received payment in advance so it was of little consequence..."

"It must have been a considerable payment to bring you all out here." Interrupted Daniel. "I didn't ask. Too much curiosity about the mistresses affairs is generally a bad idea if one wishes to avoid being her next meal." Was Quinn's reply. He then continued. "I am however aware that Marius was very unhappy indeed about our arrival though I doubt he confronted the child about it, even if he knew where he was."

"He still found you somewhere to stay though, didn't he?" Enquired Vin trying to gauge the extent of the relationship between Marius and the Swarm's mistress should they come into conflict. "That was arranged personally between them." confirmed Quinn, still seemingly under the influence of Vin's abilities. "We were however told not to spread too far from our agreed borders. We were informed that these others within the sewers, though not a threat individually had enough numbers to create difficulties as a whole."

Victoria Anne - Ghoul of Marius
'Not Renowned for her Personality'
This somewhat confirmed Daniel's own theories and the information gained by Hope through the other Gangrel 'Sweepers' that there were a lot more thin-bloods and Caitiff in LA than were showing themselves. This also tied into the massive increase in poaching as feeding such a vast potential army could not be accomplished with the resources they currently possessed. Daniel then stated his intention to try to get in touch with Marius as they would need some clothes and transport and they had no other contacts nearby. If it cost him a boon then so be it.

As seemed to be a matter of course lately, he instead go through to Victoria. She was, of course, as cheerful and polite as usual. "What?!?" Daniel ignored the tone and explained the situation to Marius's PA, well aware that if Marius had sent the swarm to their location that she herself was going to be aware of the situation. He also mentioned the girl and the need for medical care. "Put Quinn on..." Victoria said with all the exasperation it was possible to express with a voice alone.

Though they could only hear one half of the conversation, it was obvious that Quinn didn't like Victoria. He took the phone away from his ear and handed it back to Daniel. Victoria had already hung up. "The psycho bitch queen would like me to guide you to the sewer entrance to Hallowbrook." Said Quinn. "I'll send the rest of the swarm back to their lairs so your Brujah friend doesn't need to destroy any more of them and take you the rest of the way personally." It seemed like as good an offer as they were likely to get.

Interlude - The Mistress of the Swarm
Francois Villon - Toreador
Camarilla Prince of Paris
The kindred most commonly known as 'The Mistress of the Swarm' or sometimes merely 'The Plague' is apparently the second kindred to bear the name as the first was reported slain by a Gangrel Scourge on the orders of Prince Villon of Paris sometime in the sixteenth century.

It's possible that the current bearer of the name is a childe or grandechilde of the original or that the original was never slain at all. The second possibility does however mean that Prince Villon was the victim of a significant subterfuge as the price he paid was reportedly quite substantial.

Though there are many threats to kindred from amongst their own number, few can match the terror that the horde of blood crazed followers of the mistress of the swarm can generate. Once arriving in a new city she quickly embraces broods of childer and armies of ghouls while her cult spreads through the disenfranchised mortals who make up the dregs of society.

Over the centuries she has learned to channel her strength, speed and resilience into her own Vitae, gorging herself on kine cultists, ghouls who have outlived their usefulness and childer who have displeased her. She then allows her chosen ones to feed from her own body before unleashing them upon her foes, her physical abilities temporarily passed onto them via her vitae.

Though her broods of Childer fluctuate wildly in number and age the oldest survivor of her childer, 'Quinn' has managed to avoid the fate of his brothers and sisters and managed to stay in her good graces for nearly two centuries. Frequent frenzies have resulted in a number of seemingly permanent animalistic mutations but given that he spends most of his time underground these have caused little inconvenience.

Should the mistress wish to communicate with others he is usually the intermediary she uses. Despite his appearance he possesses a remarkable natural charisma and can be disarmingly charming. He has however survived in an environment where only the strongest dominate and the weak are destroyed without mercy. In fact he has not only survived but thrived and should therefore, not be underestimated.

Scene Sixteen - Hallowbrook
As they arrived beneath Downtown LA, swarm members began to gradually disappear into service corridors and passageways and vents both above and below their route until only Quinn remained. Eventually they found themselves in front of a large service elevator protected by an armoured gate more reminiscent of a safe or airlock than a door. There was a panel on one side but it had no buttons upon it and the display was behind multiple layers of what appeared to be bulletproof glass. "I'll leave you now." Said Quinn. "Victoria will no doubt be here to greet you and I have no desire to be either patronised or insulted." With that he left them.

As they waited, Daniel noticed a number of bloodstains and smears of varying ages and fluids near the elevator and some of the floor surrounding it. Evidently this area was used for other purposes than merely as an unorthodox visitors entrance. After a few minutes the exterior doors opened and Daniel with his keen eye for security measures noticed not one or two but three armoured shields slide aside before the elevator door itself opened. Victoria was there and was accompanied by a woman that Daniel recognised as a well known surgeon named Dr Melissa Russell. She had been offered a job heading a medical research team but no-one was quite sure where she had ended up. The mystery was now apparently solved.

Dr Melissa Russell - Ghoul
Chief Researcher of Aegis Medical
The elevator opened on a floor of the building that from what Daniel could see, contained a state of the art medical research centre. Two burly men in long lab coats helped the rescued girl onto a gurney and Dr Russell left the elevator along with them.

They were then taken to another floor of Marius's tower where Victoria indicated that they could select any of the open rooms and make themselves comfortable. She told them to wait while she arranged clean clothing and some 'refreshments'.

The rooms themselves are all well decorated and feature a bed, bathroom and small kitchen area with a fridge and a couple of comfortable chairs. They are also all completely windowless and have a secure lock on the inside of each door.

Each took a different room and awaited for Victoria to fulfil her promise. It didn't take long. For all her many psychological faults, a lack of efficiency wasn't a problem she had. Each soon received a visit from one of Marius's herd of blood-dolls bearing a pile of clothes. Hope's clothing had been delivered by a handsome young gentleman who was presumably from one of the security teams. Marius and Victoria were well aware from her period in their employ that Hope refrained from feeding on women and Marius's own herd was exclusively female so an alternative had been provided.

Storytellers Note - The feeding flaw 'Prey Exclusion' is a single-dot regardless of how common or severe the restriction is which is a bit odd as to be honest I'd probably house-rule it as a sliding scale were I to start a new chronicle from scratch.

Once they had cleaned themselves up, fed and changed into clean clothes, Victoria made another appearance. "I have provided you a nondescript vehicle to use to return to your places of residence. It's a standard fleet model so isn't armoured so try to avoid getting shot on your way home. I'll also want it back when you're done. I'll have everything else disposed of..." As no price was mentioned, the coterie members left, somewhat suspicious that they seemed to be getting significant assistance without any strings being attached.

Caleb - Nosferatu
Childe of Gary Golden
With dawn approaching, Hope changed into raven form and flew to her own haven while the rest headed to the gallery to wait out the day. First they made their report to Michael. Daniel explained that the kidnappers of blood-dolls had now been eliminated but that their leader had been killed by an unknown sniper before the full information could be revealed. he had however informed them that Caitiff and Thin-bloods from the Pier and the Barony of the Angels were involved.

Daniel also pointed out that he believed that the kidnap of Caleb was to extract from him knowledge of the secret areas of the warrens where they could create their own bases and launch sites for attacks. A theory partially confirmed by them now finding two such locations used for exactly that purpose. The question was whether Jenna Cross was involved. Though confronting Jenna would let them know if she was indeed involved it would also give away that they knew the plan was her's. Add this to the fact that the thin-blood Rosa was one of the most accomplished Seer's in Los Angeles made moving too early a significant issue.

It was also theorised that another person may be pushing the thin-bloods so as to have an excuse to eliminate them. Daniel suggested Therese Voerman as a suspect though Michael countered this by pointing out that the plan was, in his opinion, far too blunt for a kindred as sophisticated and intelligent as her. He then mentioned the 'golden-haired child' whose existence had been discovered by Vin, via conversation with Quinn. Whoever he was, he must have significant power and influence to recruit such a force as the swarm.

With dawn now imminent, Daniel made a last call to get his ghoul to fetch his and Marius's vehicles and return them to their correct locations. Vin had already left, but Daniel couldn't help but notice that he had taken a significant portion of the coteries hidden armoury along with him.

Then they were forced into slumber by the arrival of day.

Scene Seventeen - Six Barons
Jeremy MacNeil - Brujah
De Facto Anarch Baron of Los Angeles
Possibly Destroyed
The coteries report to Michael had included the information that the last surviving kidnapper had specifically placed the blame at the feet of both the Thin-bloods and Caitiff of not only the Santa Monica Pier but those of the Barony of the Angels.

This was for Michael the final straw and he was now sure that Hank's opinion that the independence of the Barony of the Angels was a failed and Ill-thought out experiment of the conspicuously absent Jeremy MacNeill was quite correct. All that remained was to convince the neighbouring baronies that this was a necessary precaution rather than a cynical power-grab.

Despite Daniel having several theories of his own about who was behind recent events, Michael asked him to hold off on investigating them until this matter could be resolved. Fortunately the Toreador had been preparing for this for some time and had a plan.

Storytellers Note - I had intended this particular plot to occur much later, perhaps even in the next chronicle but Michael's player was motivated to do it now and had come to the conclusion all on his own. He believed it was the best way of removing the aforementioned barony as a breeding ground for poachers and unfocused revolutionaries. I therefore decided 'fuck it', if he thinks he can do it, let's let him have a go...

Michael was aware that Hank was already on board with the division of the neutral area so he had at least one ally in the discussion. With a carefully selected order in which to contact the various barons and manipulations already in mind to persuade them to attend a meeting he began to make five of the most important phone calls he'd made since he'd arrived in the Free States. The rewards for success were considerable, failure however had it's own consequences too.

Isaac Abrams - Toreador
Baron of Hollywood
The bar within Pasadena that the coterie used for meetings with other kindred had been extensively adapted so that it's meeting area was suitable for the kind of guests that Michael was expecting. In fact he had commissioned it's redecoration almost the instant that the Malkavian coterie member Roach had been declared missing. This would be the location he suggested.

First on his list was Isaac Abrams. "Changed your mind about that watch have you?" asked Isaac. "Unfortunately I have more serious matters to discuss with you..." Replied Michael. "...namely a plot to overthrow the barons of Los Angeles by the caitiff of the Barony of the Angels."

Michael laid out what he knew, manipulating Isaac's dislike of any vampire he considered to be without clan in order to motivate him to attend a round-table meeting of other barons. He also pointed out that with no knowledge of these revolutionaries timetable the matter was so urgent that he believed a meeting this very evening was not unreasonable. To his satisfaction, his manipulations had exactly the effect he had intended and Isaac agreed to attend. "I'm planning on limiting the attendance within the meeting to the Barons, a single Seneschal and up to two guards." Said Michael. "Of course whoever you travel with is your own concern. I shall arrange adequate facilities for as many vehicles as you deem necessary."

Mariel St John - Ventrue
Adopted Childe of Baron Fortier
With one baron on board, he made his next call to Mariel St John, believing she was his best chance of getting Baron Fortier to attend.

With Mariel he used a similar strategy to that used on Isaac, using the potential threat of an uprising to gain her attention and the lack of a timescale to emphasise the urgency of meeting immediately. He also used her own desire for power against her by implying that having her pass on the request rather than Catherine would elevate her in Louis Fortier's estimation. Especially as security was Catherine's concern yet Miss Du Bois had seemingly missed this potential threat completely.

She still was wavering and merely offered to 'get back to him later', that is until he mentioned that Marius would also likely be attending. Knowing that if knowledge came to Baron Fortier that her hesitation had allowed Marius Walker to gain domain at his expense, she would plummet in status amongst his entourage, she agreed to ensure he would be available.

After laying out the same parameters as he'd given to Issac he then readied himself to phone Hank Boyd, Baron of the Crypts Sons. This should be relatively easy as Hank had already mentioned his doubts about the status of the Barony of the Angels. As it turned out, Hanks concerns about the meeting were less about whether he'd attend and more about the travel arrangements.

Henrique 'Hank' Boyd - Brujah
Baron of the Crypts Sons
Hank took little persuading about the potential of the Barony of the Angels as a breeding ground for threats to his own barony. When he had retaken the territory lost to the Crypts Sons after the attacks by the eastern kindred, supposedly on the orders of Salvador Garcia, the majority of those who had seized his territory were gangs from that aforementioned 'neutral' area. Hank also had no issues with putting down an armed insurrection and so would bring a substantial physical threat to help motivate those whose territory they were going to be 'protecting'.

His own real concern was that he was going to have to travel through the area they were discussing taking. He therefore agreed to the meeting on the condition that there was adequate space for the considerable convoy he was bringing along to wait for him as escort for his return journey. Michael stated that he could certainly arrange such an area but that Hank would still need to keep to the same restrictions as the other barons about numbers in the meeting itself.

With three attendees now guaranteed, his forth call was to Marius Walker. He was however quite certain that he was going to get Victoria instead. He was correct.

"You're no doubt aware of the current problems beneath the Barony of the Angels?" It was phrased as a question but as she had aided them after his people's trip through the sewers and had also been involved in sending 'The Swarm' to help them, it was certain she knew exactly what was occurring underneath her own feet.

Marius Walker - Autarkis Gangrel
Boardroom Gangrel and LA 'Fixer'
Michael had already decided that manipulating Victoria was next to impossible and any hint of a threat would almost certainly result in the vindictive ghoul responding in some horrendous manner. He therefore used a strategy almost unused in kindred society, namely honesty.

"We're going to be discussing dividing up the Barony of the Angels. All the neighbouring barons will be there including Fortier so it's in your best interests to get Marius to attend as otherwise they might just all decided to share Downtown between them." There was a brief period of silence and then she spoke. "I must ensure I remember how much thought you seem to have already put into this plan." There was another pause. "I'll ensure we attend." then she hung up.

Now all that remained was to get El Hermandad's de facto leader in Garcia's absence, Jesus Ramirez to give his agreement. Having had no contact with Ramirez other than a few words at the last rant, this involved a somewhat convoluted period of being bounced about between contacts.

Salvador Garcia - Brujah
Absentee Baron of El Hermandad
After starting with Gloria Martinez, then a few others who eventually referred him to someone of apparent importance who he'd never heard of called Victor Girard, he eventually found himself talking to Jesus Ramirez.

Michael had imagined that Jesus's connection to Salvador Garcia would have made him reluctant to even discuss anything that might undermine a decision made by Jeremy MacNeil. It seemed he was wrong. All it really needed was Michael to mention that the Crypt's Sons baron would be attending to motivate his rival gang leader to also make himself available. He did however add that he was grateful that such an important voice would be in attendance. After laying out the same terms and conditions agreed with the others, Michael gave his thanks to the El Hermandad leader, before putting down the phone. Now all that remained was to ensure that the preparations were adequate for this unprecedented discussion.

Storytellers Note - I'm aware that the previous scene and the next one seem more like a solo session but the rest of those present had been given handouts relating to the many gangs with the Barony, maps of the various borders and other pertinent information. They had therefore been busy making contingency plans should everything fail as well as compiling a list of possible threats to the plan that might need to meet final death. I always like to make sure players have something to occupy themselves during other players 'moments'.

Scene Eighteen - Divide and Conquer
Hope Romero - Gangrel Scourge
Aerial Reconnaissance
Michael used his police contacts and local influence to have several nearby parking areas and empty plots of land cordoned off in order to give his guests places for their entourages to wait. The main requirement of these was that they at least kept the rival factions some distance apart while their Barons had their discussion. Michael was conscious that his hard work could easily be undone by poorly chosen words between the various gangs causing a battle outside.

His three newest Gangrel recruits were tasked with patrolling the immediate area while Hope observed from the air. Vin was to be stationed at the front entrance to the meeting place in order to ensure that no-one arrived at the venue itself excessively armed. Once the meeting was underway he would join Michael and Hope would take his exterior position. Daniel was also observing the arrivals though he was utilising his supernatural senses to detect any abilities being used to conceal unusual weapons or obfuscated enemies who may be attempting to gain covert entry.

Preserved Blood - Vampire 'Refreshments'
Venus Dare of Club Confession had been contacted by Michael and he had purchased from her a number of bottles of wine, infused with blood, to utilise as refreshments. Distasteful as the practice was to him, he had also arranged for a variety of living vessels should his distinguished guests require them. In anticipation of using the bar as a place to hold meetings, Michael had commissioned a round table with an elaborate rose carved into it, this being the most recognisable symbol of his own clan. Also given the rivalries between several of the attendees, Michael had created place settings for each person in order to separate the deadliest enemies from each other by at least one other baron. Seating around the table had been reserved for the barons themselves and one adviser as he presumed the guards would be standing.

Louis Fortier - Ventrue
Baron of West Los Angeles
As each guest arrived, Daniel paid attention to exactly who each baron and de facto baron had bought with them as seneschal's and guards. Louis Fortier was accompanied by Mariel St John, his Gangrel 'sweeper' Joey and the ghoul who headed his security teams, Jean 'Jax' Thomas. Jax gave a nod to Daniel as he entered, a clear indicator that he recognised him from their fight at Maynard Finance. Daniel had been concerned that knowledge of his presence there would have caused problems with Fortier yet it seemed that his reasons for being at the location had been accepted.

Henrique 'Hank' Boyd introduced his Seneshal as Twain Martinez and his two guards as 'Ty' and 'Jack' but only gave Michael anything approaching a greeting, ignoring the other barons completely. The place for Isaac Abrams adviser was taken by a kindred that the coterie recognised as the ever-present bodyguard of the Hollywood Baron. His other two guards were apparently unworthy of an introduction and simply dropped into position behind their leader.

Jesus Ramirez who acted as second to Salvador Garcia during his frequent absences was more or less a Seneschal himself yet had bought an adviser with him. Michael recognised the voice as that of Victor Girard who had spoken to when attempting to obtain the agreement of Ramirez to attend. Victor was a large, balding, roly-poly man wearing a goatee and a big smile. His clothing made Michael think of a businessman from the nineteen fifties. His guards were introduced as Mohammed Hartman and Charles Acosta, though Daniel noted that the other guard called him 'Chas' rather than Charles.

'Alice' - Ghoul of Marius
No-one was even vaguely surprised when Marius turned up with Victoria and Yukio as they had been his most favoured assistants for as long as any-one remembered. The second bodyguard was an athletically built woman with dark-hair that none of the coterie had seen her before. As she drew little attention it could be presumed that the longer term residents of Los Angeles were aware of who she was. Daniel as usual made a note to investigate her further at a more appropriate juncture.

The assembled guests were offered refreshments before the meeting officially began. Though all present refrained from accepting any blood from the 'vessels' offered, three poured themselves glasses of wine. With the eye of an expert, Isaac selected a particular fine vintage. Hank and Louis also helped themselves to a drink though were significantly less choosy about the bottles they selected.

After giving everyone a few minutes to settle down and exchange a few forced sounding pleasantries, Michael began one of the most important speeches of his unlife.

"Some of you have a vague idea of why I have requested your presence at this urgent meeting but for those who are not aware, I wish to discuss the Barony of the Angels. Some preamble will be necessary before I get to the essence of my proposal so I ask that you give me a little leeway initially." As no voices of dissent were raised, Michael continued.

Kindred of the Barony of the Angels
"First, let me be clear that what I want if at all possible is a peaceful resolution to the problems that the aforementioned barony is causing. However what cannot be denied is that the fighting within the neutral area created by MacNeil has drawn more attention from the authorities and more near misses in regards to Masquerade Breaches than any other area within the entirety of LA." There was a murmur of agreement from Hank, though the others remained silent. "Those within are beholden to no-one and seem hell-bent on causing havoc which the rest of us are obliged to suffer the consequences for and cover up the aftermath of."

This was actually more or less true. The smaller gangs within hadn't the resources to clean-up after themselves and so in the majority of cases those with influence over mortal authorities or with media contacts had to make these issues go way. This effectively meant that they had all the benefits of being part of a larger responsible barony but had to expend no resources to maintain their status.

Jesus Ramirez - Ventrue
El Hermandad Seneschal
Michael pointed this out and gained more of a response this time. Baron Fortier in particular had begun to pay more attention. Seeing his words beginning to gain traction he felt confident in labouring the points about the problems even more. "The Barony of the Angels is no longer fit for the purpose for which it was created. Though I'm sure all present, respect the intention of Jeremy MacNeil and other senior Anarchs, It is my belief that we need to take the unprecedented step of imposing some authority on those who have shown themselves unfit to manage themselves." Casting his expert eye over his audience and utilising his empathetic talents to their limits he gauged the responses to his controversial statement.

Of those listening, only Ramirez seemed resistant to the statement though in Michael's opinion this may have been due to him having to calculate Garcia's potential responses as well as his own. "We have already experienced one near disaster with the Second Inquisition, almost certainly a result of the irresponsible actions of those we are discussing." Michael of course knew that this wasn't actually true, but it was plausible enough that no-one disputed his assertion. "We here can do something about this problem this very night if we have the courage to act..."

Storytellers Note - I made the player roll at this point to see if his argument had worked. He got thirteen successes. The speech was good and more often than not I'd just let role-playing decide but as this would change the face of my version of LA I decided a dice roll was in order.

The Barony of the Angels
Michael could clearly see that he had the rapt attention of all before him. Having the focus of all upon him was almost like a drug and he began to appreciate why certain of his bloodline craved such power of others. He of course was far to intelligent and considerate of the needs of others to fall into such a trap. His moral superiority over others of his clan would of course make all the difference.

Storytellers Note - I see Megalomania making an appearance as a derangement in Michael's future...

"I presume you a have a solution, and not just a list of problems?" Asked Hank, Crypts Sons baron and up til now, most vocal opponent of the gangs within the central Barony. Michael did indeed. "I suggest that the Barony of the Angels be divided between those present here with each baron taking an area of responsibility. I also offer myself as a neutral party to arbitrate any initial problems and would therefore take no territory myself." This last remark was a surprise to all in attendance. "My own borders have recently expanded and as I now have responsibility for both Burbank and Glendale, I have more than enough domain for my needs." He then handed a map to each of the barons at the table. Most then immediately slid it sideways to their senior advisers.

Michael had wished to minimise any arguments at this stage so had put considerable thought into how the territory would be divided. The Crypts Sons domain would extend over South Central LA, El Hermandad would gain an extended chunk of East LA, while Fortier's borders would move beyond West LA towards Downtown.

Downtown Los Angeles at Night
Isaac Abrams though referred to as the 'Baron of Hollywood' actual controlled an area more to the North West. If all agreed to the terms then Hollywood would actually come under his complete control. While all were perusing the map the inevitable subject of Downtown's ownership came to the fore as Michael knew it would.

Michael argued that with Downtown officially the domain of Marius then it would enable him to continue to assist the other barons of Los Angeles as he already did but with an added level of accountability bought into play by it being classed officially as a barony. His argument however fell on deaf ears as he had feared. "Downtown is mine." Stated Baron Fortier in a tone that brooked no disagreement. Michael's fear that this sticking point would cause his plan to falter seemed to have been depressingly prophetic.

"How about we buy it from you?" asked Victoria, the first of the advisers to actually give any input. To the surprise of all others present, Fortier seemed to be considering it.

Marius then continued from where his assistant had began. "You may keep all your existing business interests, I'll even guarantee their protection. Just give me a price for purchasing it from you outright. Money, boons, favours?" Victoria interjected once more. "It would save you the trouble of managing two separate domains and the expanded area suggested by the Baron of the North East, Michael is more than enough compensation for the loss when combined with whatever we agree between us..."

Michael and the other barons could see Louis Fortier considering the ramifications. A war between him and Marius would be messy and weaken them both, however this solution allowed him to save face as it was an exchange of favours, not a surrender of territory per se as well as avoiding a war that he might not actually win. Alternatively the win might be so costly as to allow him to be overran by another, making it a defeat in real terms. He came to a decision. " long as we can come to acceptable terms of course."

Michael Tomassio - Toreador
Baron of North East Los Angeles
With the one major sticking point averted, Michael then moved onto his own demands. "Of course I'm not proposing this purely out of the goodness of my heart. I do have some requirements of my own..." there were a few smiles here and there as the assembled kindred would have taken a lack of anything gained for himself as a sign of dangerous levels of weakness. "You seem to have put considerable effort into the process so far." Said Isaac. "The least we can do is hear Baron Tomassio out."

"In return for taking no domain myself, despite bringing us all together and making this possible, I would require a major boon from each of the barons present...and a few other minor concessions." Michael then pressed on while his audience seemed to be in a receptive mood. "I'd also require the right to pass through the former Barony of the Angels without requiring permission from those newly responsible for it."

'Here's An Invite to Join Our Gang'
Ramirez interrupted to clarify that such an agreement would only apply to areas formerly within the borders of the Barony of the Angels. Anyone found uninvited in the confines of their original domains would be dealt with by the usual methods.

"What if the gangs suddenly under our control decided they don't like the idea?" asked Hank. "Forcing them to join your own gang would be against the spirit of what we're trying to achieve." Michael replied. "However should they see the benefit of fully committing to their new baron then of course that is entirely reasonable and they would then be totally beholden to your own baronies rules." Vin and Daniel exchanged a look at this point, unsure whether Michael genuinely believed that the barons present were going to become benevolent rulers to their new charges or if he was humouring them to get his own way. "So are we agreed then?"

Storytellers Note - The second dice roll was slightly worse than his first but still more than good enough so I let him have his way.

With all present agreed it was suggested that they made their moves immediately so as to take the more rebellious kindred by surprise and prevent any significant joint response to the newly divided Los Angeles.

Interlude - A Transitional Period
'The Blue Bloods', a gang led by a Ventrue named Ralph Harwood consisting of about eight kindred who are a mix of Brujah and Caitiff have effectively become part of Fortier's expanded West LA rather than face his army of ghouls.

'The Dead Eyes' leader, the so called 'Sheikh' Cullen and three of his Lieutenants have been assassinated by persons unknown. The fourteen remaining Kindred have joined the Crypt Sons. 'The Night Stalkers', are a group of a dozen ghouls led by a single Brujah who calls himself 'Deacon' and is an extremely charismatic Brujah. The Crypt's Sons leader Hank has offered him a harpy, come, emissary role which he has apparently accepted. Though he still has his ghouls he is no longer technically a gang.

'The Liberated' are six, possibly seven Caitiff with no formal leader. Before the division of the Barony they operated basically as a democracy and just wanted to be left alone. They are now effectively El Hermandad though there is no sign that they are particularly active.

'The Blossoms' are three Toreador madams that operate the euphemistically named Quintana, Escort Service and the Noble Dating Agency. They never referred to themselves by the name attributed to their gang and doing so in the presence of their enforcer was likely to result in you getting a bullet between the eyes.

Tayla, Karla and Lottie - Toreador
They are led by one Tayla Quintana. Lottie Noble is her business partner while Karla Bray acts as their enforcer and is extremely proficient with both gun and blade. Now they come under Marius's extended Downtown domain he has effectively granted them what was their own territory as feeding ground and they have continued to operate exactly as they did before.

'The Jackals', Gangrel leader and his three Caitiff have, if the rumours are to be believed pledged, themselves to Myranda of the Wilds pack. The Nosferatu Kendrick who was widely regarded as actually being the brains of their outfit has joined Gary of the Hollywood Warrens.

Not all the transitions have however been smooth. The kindred known somewhat ironically as 'The Nameless One' has kept the area of Olympic Boulevard in the heart of Koreatown as his domain by the simple method of destroying any kindred who tried to take it from him.

Baron of Santa Ana and Huntington
'The Purgatory', the second largest gang in the former Barony of the Angels were obsessively loyal to their joint leaders Simran Daugherty and Lorenzo Brookes. The eleven strong group of kindred who bonded over ritual sacrifice and scarification have simply disappeared. Though they may have been absorbed by another gang or massacred, given Simran's undoubted intelligence and Lorenzo's tactical expertise it seems massively unlikely they have been destroyed. 'The Rats' leader Shantelle and the other six kindred under her control are also missing.

Most dangerous of all, 'The Voiceless Ones', cannibalistic kindred who lived in the sewers, took advantage of the unrest to diablerize several passers through and may be responsible for several other missing gang members. They then disappeared into the depths.

There have also been three fundamental changes in the kindred domains of Los Angeles. Firstly, Marius has 'bought' Downtown from Fortier, though the price is unknown. He has expanded his borders as far as agreed with the other neighbouring baronies and has granted Chinatown to Lyko Wu as feeding ground. Secondly, Baron David Geduld of Torrance has moved his border back from Los Angeles Airport and surrendered full control of it to the Fortiers in return for an unknown boon or boons.

Thirdly, Amethyst has taken Huntington Beach for her own, claiming the now empty barony needed a baron and as it's closest neighbour it behoved to her to ensure that it had one. The Banu Haqim, Daniel Matthews who had spent considerable effort preventing Amethyst's proxy Tom Weaver from taking Anaheim was particularly perturbed by this last development. Though he begrudgingly admired her tactics, he knew she would certainly be one of Michael's major adversaries when it came to taking Los Angeles as a whole.

Scene Nineteen - Underground Once More
Michael Tomassio - Baron of the North East
Showing his Artistic Side
Knowing that there was little for him to do until the situation with the newly expanded baronies settled down, Michael created some art for the gallery. He was fairly relaxed at the moment as he had discovered that his ghoul, Captain Frank Atkins was investigating the warehouse shoot out. This meant that any evidence linking the event to his own people would become 'lost'.

He had also been informed by Leanna that the girl that his people had rescued and dropped at Marius's tower was a hooker called Maggie who apparently belonged to a Toreador Madam in Downtown. She had been returned to them once it had been safe to move her.

Vin had continued his search for the street girls he had lost but could find no new leads. He did however locate a few low-level, surviving stray members of the gang that had been responsible. Though they were too low in the gangs hierarchy to have any useful information Vin made himself feel slightly better by brutally murdering them all.

Steve Booth - Brujah
The Baron of Long Beach
Hope had continued familiarising the new Gangrel 'Hounds' with the layout and borders of their domain, common areas of entry for poachers and particular spots that needed to be given a more thorough check than others. Carla and Orla were doing sweeps of the perimeter while the more subtle Priya took care of the more urban areas. This left Hope to investigate anything she felt might be important, knowing that the basic security of their expanded domain was taken care of.

Daniel had tasked his ghouls Andrew and Keith with investigating the borders between the domains of Steve Booth and David Geduld to see if they could identify any patterns that could be exploited to help give Steve the edge but with little to go on, found nothing of use. The only thing that was sure was that The Apostles drug shipments were still arriving on time so presumably within Long Beach everything was still running as it had.

The sewer dwelling Nosferatu Alonzo and Gary had provided Daniel with information on as many below ground service areas as they were aware of. Daniel suspected that these were being used as staging posts by the plotting Thin-blood and Caitiff and it was for this information they had kidnapped Caleb, childe of Gary Golden and expert on the Los Angeles sewer layout. Unfortunately this information was mainly in Caleb's head so the only information available was on the most commonly known of these places.

Vincent 'Vin' Ghast - 'Making Enquiries'
Nonetheless, Daniel had persuaded Hope and Vin to investigate some of these areas with him in order to see if they could perhaps get lucky and find some clues. Daniel also suggested that as there were a number of groups now active beneath LA that they would attack only in self defence to avoid any 'friendly-fire' incidents.

Vin agreed in principle but added that if they came across any inhabitants of the sewers who he even suspected were part of the plot to kidnap the still missing young women he would kill them on sight. Or at best, torture them for information, and then kill them. They also took a number of canvas bags with them in case they came across any weapon caches they could salvage. They arranged to acquire a nondescript van from Mr Hertz and then drove to a suitable area to begin their search that had a fairly closely packed selection of service areas.

As they entered the network, Hope began to sing the 'Far over the Misty Mountains Cold' song from the Hobbit movie as she took point, Vin waited for Daniel to carry on and then dropped in at the rear.

Storytellers Note - I was torn here as I thought this was a terrible plan. I was therefore undecided between making them wander around the sewers unproductively until they gave up or manufacturing an event so the scene wasn't a total loss. In the end I went for something in the middle...

After three locked store rooms, two open ones and an area that seemed to be where old signs were stacked, the only discovery they'd made was a bum asleep in the corner of an empty cupboard. Hope was getting bored and irritable and Vin hadn't spoken a word for over an hour.

After another fruitless hour, Daniel was about to admit defeat when Vin pointed out some movement ahead that an utterly disinterested Hope had missed. Glad of something to do, Hope surged ahead but did so with such a lack of stealth that any sewer dweller ahead would have heard her coming from some distance away. Not one to admit defeat, Hope conditioned the pursuit for some distance with Vin and Daniel in tow but eventually gave up.

Venus Dare - Ghoul of Marius
Club Owner and Dominatrix 
Meanwhile back at the gallery, Michael received a phone call from Venus. It seemed that 'Fat' Larry had missed an 'appointment' and she was checking some of his contacts to see if they know where he was. Given Larry's keen interest in the dominatrix services that were Venus's sideline it was unlikely that he just wouldn't turn up unless there was some major problem. As she doubted that Marius would consider it worth his time to investigate a missing, submissive, minor gun dealer she decided to make some enquiries herself first. Michael promised to let her know if he came up with anything and Venus gave him the address of a warehouse where Larry stored some of his stock.

A moment after he put his phone down, it rang once more. This time it was Daniel reporting in that other than one random hint of movement they had discovered exactly fuck all so he was going to call it a night. "Where are you exactly?" asked Michael. As luck would have it they weren't far from Larry's warehouse so Michael asked Daniel to take the others and have a quick look. Daniel contacted Andrew and asked for his car to be dropped off near to where they planned on surfacing. Then he sent him to retrieve their van and return it to Mr Hertz.

As Daniel was driving, the others had little choice but to accept that he was going to park some distance away from the location to which they were heading. The Banu Haqim habitually avoided leaving his vehicle near a target location so as to have nothing to connect him to any incidents. He also never parked in the same place twice running. On this occasion the precaution was to do more harm than good.

Scene Twenty - 'Fat' Larry's Warehouse
The loading bay doors at the side entrance have been caved inwards and the heavily secured door at the front has had it's metal security gate torn open. The door beyond is hanging from one hinge. As you approach the loading bay doors explode outwards as a heavy pick-up truck to which a ram has been added drives out, followed by a van and an SUV.

Hope leapt away a moment too late and was hurled aside with tremendous force by the rapidly accelerating vehicle. Her clans unnatural resilience minimising the damage of what would have been a fatal blow for a mere mortal. Daniel's talent for acrobatics enabled him to roll aside and come up in firing position in a single motion. He saw the lead vehicle throw Hope into the air as Vin's unnatural reflexes enabled him to use his ability to more at supernatural speed and he avoided being hit in a blur of motion.

Celerity - Rapid Reflexes and Unerring Aim
Daniel put a round into the lead vehicles front tire but it continued at speed apparently being equipped with some kind of run-flat tires. The truck was however moving far beyond the speed recommended for such tires, so Daniel was still sure the damage would effect the vehicle eventually. But perhaps not soon enough.

Recovering from the impact, Hope shape-shifted into her Raven form and pursued the rapidly escaping vehicles from the air. Vin used his supernatural speed once more in a last ditch attempt to catch up with the van but succeeded only in ripping one of the doors off by the handle. Daniel's own clan shared the ability of Vin's though he used his gun rather than his bare hands to attack the vehicle. Improvised armour, no doubt added for the ram raid deflected both shots much to the expert shooters frustration.

Shapechanged Gangrel - Raven Diving
Frustrated by her comrades inability to stop the vehicles and angered by the injuries she'd suffered,  Hope abandoned her plan to merely follow the vehicles and came up with something less orthodox. Diving ahead of the lead truck she turned sharply and then changed back into humanoid form attempting to spear through the windscreen and cause havoc within. Unfortunately her aim was off and she instead struck the added ram and armour and was catapulted forward as the vehicle ran right over her.

In a last ditch attempt to prevent it's escape, the Gangrel drove her claws upwards through the trucks undercarriage slicing indiscriminately through anything beneath. This, combined with the unbalancing effect of the punctured tire caused the driver to lose control and the vehicle rolled over several times before embedding itself upright in the brick front of a shop at the roadside. As she attempted to stand the second Van hit her and she felt undead flesh split and bones shatter knocking her to the ground once more.

'Fat' Larry
Fence and Arms Dealer
More severely injured than she had ever been before, Hope healed what of her body was necessary to stand and approached the wreckage. Daniel had heard the crash and had raced to see what had occurred. Vin meanwhile had headed into the warehouse to see what had happened to Larry.

Guns were scattered everywhere as they approached, undoubtedly stolen from Larry's stocks. Moving carefully in case any of those within had survived they moved through the building wreckage to the vehicle embedded within. A chunk of glass was embedded in the drivers seat at neck level, his head was nowhere to be seen though the only very slightly decomposed body indicated a kindred of few years. The passenger had a number of jagged pieces of wooden framing through their chest. The fact that this had killed them rather than putting them into torpor removed any doubt that they were a thin-blood. As repugnant as it was to them both, they were so in need of blood that they had to feed on the mutilated bodies.

The two in the rear had also met their final deaths. A heavy crate containing ammunition had destroyed the upper body of one, the other had simply been unable to survive the trauma his undead body had sustained in a hundred mile an hour crash into a solid brick building. It was a chilling reminder that even undead flesh had limits to it's resilience. "A crash like this is gonna have the cops here in minutes." Hope pointed out, as Vin approached with the substantial form of Larry over his one shoulder.

Destroying the Evidence with Fire
"He's had a kicking by some big fucker or they used an iron bar, He's in a bad way, like 'left for dead' you know? I've had to give him some of my blood to try and keep him alive." Said Vin in his usual matter of fact tone. "They've cleared him out of weapons bar a few boxes of ammo and this sack of grenades." He continued, then handed the bag to Hope.

Hope rifled around in the bag and found a pair of incendiary grenades amongst the anti-personnel ones that made up most of the contents. She then handed the bag back to Vin who hooked it over his other shoulder. "You two fuck off." Said Hope. "I'll torch the scene and fly out. You pair take the car and see if Larry there knows anything useful." "Well? What the fuck are you waiting for?"

Hope placed the first grenade between the driver and the passenger and the second between the two kindred in the rear and pulled the pins which she then placed in her pocket, shifted form once more and then fled the scene. The flaming explosion should be enough to destroy any signs that the culprits were kindred. two crates of detonating ammunition wouldn't hurt either. Diverting just enough from her path to ensure that Vin and Hope had got their mortal cargo to the vehicle she headed back to the gallery.

To be Continued in 'The Messiah Complex' - Part Four

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...

Another mammoth session.

The flow was slightly hampered at several points by the investigator not being very good at investigating and the tracker not being very good at tracking.

It's also a good example of how you sometimes have to let the players have their way even if it fucks up your carefully worked out meta-plot. Without going into too much detail (my players read these too), the events in the Barony of the Angels were a plot idea for much later. Doing it now means I now have to re-write a lot of sub-plots and other events I had planned. That being said, the players had a good idea, prepared well and basically solved a threat to themselves with tricky politics rather than a straight fight which should be applauded rather than punished...I suppose, lol.

The moral of this story is 'don't plan too far ahead'...

“Portions of the materials are the copyrights and trademarks of White Wolf Entertainment AB, and are used with permission. All rights reserved. For more information please visit

I've used pictures of real people to represent some of the characters and art for others so in no particular order Michael Tomassio is represented by Matt Bomer, 'Vin' is Scott Adkins, Dr Matthews is Mads Mikkelsen, Hope is Deborah Ann Woll, Mr Hertz is Charles Dance, Quinn is Oliver Parker, The Mistress of the Swarm is Anna Paquin, Victoria Anne is Lilith May, Melissa Russell is Hayley Atwell, Isaac Abrams is Gary Oldman, Mariel St John is Kate Moss, 'Hank' Boyd is Michael Clarke Duncan, Marius Walker is Tony Curran, Louis Fortier is Eduardo Verastegui, Alice is Gina Carano, Jesus Ramirez is Bob Hoskins, Tayla, Karla and Lottie are Alyssa Milano, Rose McGowan and Holly Marie Combs, Amethyst is Paula Patton and Venus Dare is Sophie Howard. Everything else is from vampire related folders and searches and is as far as I know is all of the 'fair use' variety. If there's something that you feel should be attributed to some-one then feel free to let me know and I'll happily add an acknowledgement...

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