Friday, 27 November 2020

Vampire the Masquerade V5 - Session Seventy Seven - Veni, Vidi, Victor (Part Two)

I'm currently running a Vampire the Masquerade chronicle using the 5th Edition rule-set for a small group of fellow role-players. These are the chronicles of their adventures.
Our chronicle is set in Los Angeles and features a small group of Camarilla agents sent into the 'Free States' to bring them back under Camarilla control. Over a year of plotting allowed the coterie to gain control of the three North-Eastern Baronies and a large part of a fourth. Now they are moving on to the final stage of their campaign and have their eyes on taking over the entire city, either directly or by proxy.
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 L.A.' 
Welcome to L.A. - Introductory Session
Story One - 'Three Murders' - Part OneTwo, ThreeFour and Five
Interlude Session - One
Story Two - 'The Pasadena Problem' - Part OneTwoThree, and Four
Solo Session - 'The Neillson Library'
Story Two Continued- 'The Pasadena Problem' - Part FiveSixSeven and Eight
Story Three - 'Becoming Baron' - Part OneTwoThreeFour and Five
Solo Session - 'The Gather'
Story Three Continued - 'Becoming Baron' - Part SixSeven and Eight
Chronicle Two - 'Foothold L.A.' 
Solo Session - 'Hostile Takeover'
Story Four - 'Countdown' - Part OneTwo and Three
Story Five - 'The Missing Chantry' - Part OneTwoThreeFour and Five
Solo Session - 'The Anaheim Assassination'
Story Six - 'A Meeting of Barons' - Part OneTwo and Three
Story Seven - 'The Carmelita Situation' - Part OneTwo and Three
Story Eight - 'The Blount Sisters' - Part One and Two
Story Nine - 'Blood Money' - Part OneTwoThreeFour, Five and Six
Story Ten - 'Anathema' - Part One and Two
Story Eleven - 'Predators and Prey' aka 'The Blount Sisters' - Part Three
Story Twelve - 'Aftermath' - Part One and Two
Story Thirteen - 'The Messiah Complex' - Part OneTwoThree and Four
Chronicle Three - 'Incursion L.A.'
Story Fourteen - 'The Rant'
Story Fifteen - 'Ties of Blood' - Part One and Two
Solo Session - 'A Gathering of Roses'
Story Sixteen - 'The Southern Solution' - Part OneTwo and Three
Story Seventeen - 'The Baker Disappearance' - Part OneTwo and Three
Story Eighteen - 'Inevitable Betrayals' - Part OneTwoThreeFour and Five
Story Nineteen - 'The Marius Contracts' - Part One and Two
Story Twenty - 'The MacNeil Protocols' - Part OneTwoThreeFourFive
Story Twenty - 'The MacNeil Protocols' - Part SixSevenEightNine and Ten
Interlude Session One - After Griffith Park
Interlude Session Two - Divide and Conquer
Interlude Session Three - On the Brink of War
Chronicle Four - 'Conquest L.A.'
Story Twenty One - 'Veni, Vidi, Victor' - Part One

The PC's
Michael Tomassio - Toreador, 'Baron of the North East'
Vincent 'Vin' Ghast - Brujah, 'Constable'
Dr Daniel Matthews - Banu Haqim, 'Fixer'
Hope Romero - Gangrel, 'Census Taker'
Mr Hertz - Nosferatu, 'Seneschal'

The player characters stats and backgrounds can be found HERE should any-one be interested, but be warned that the page is usually several stories ahead of the most recent write-up and may contain some spoilers. There's also some minor 'house-rules' HERE that have occurred as we went along.

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 or faction beneath their picture.

Storytellers Note - Due to a Covid related local lockdown in the area in which I live, our group is currently unable to meet up in person. We have therefore done this session via 
messengers video 'room' app.

Martinelli's Ring
The coterie has been alerted to the presence of trespassers within their domain, Mr Hertz has found links between the Crypts Sons and the Sabbat and Daniel is continuing his investigation into weaknesses within Victors business empire that can be exploited.

Michael however has been distracted by a search for a vampiric artefact with which to gift Isaac in order to ingratiate him further. Though the item has now been retrieved, further political complications have forced him to postpone passing the gift onto Baron Abrams.

Three of the coteries members find themselves needing the assistance of the 'Fixer' Marius and Michael has arranged a meeting.

Scene Eight - Mawla
Hallowbrook - Internal Security
Daniel once more marvelled at the security with which Marius surrounded himself. Despite much of the building being residential, actually getting passed the lobby was a mission in itself.

The guards were highly trained, all former military, and worked short shifts so as to minimise the chances of tiredness or apathy.

Multiple security cameras with overlapping fields of vision covered every point of ingress and Daniel knew that some had been acquired from destroyed Second Inquisition operations and were capable of distinguishing mortals from supernatural guests.

That was before even considering the relatively mundane scanners and metal detectors.

Victoria - Ancient Ghoul of Marius
Psychotic Personal Assistant
Fortunately for them, their progress was expedited by the presence of Marius's assistant Victoria who had met them at the entrance. The private elevator to Marius's private apartments looked like it could withstand an explosion and probably could. "More upgrades?" asked Daniel. "A few..." replied Victoria. "We're having the roof garden covered and some security system upgrades fitted. Just keeping things up to date..."

Marius was seated in the open plan living room that made up the majority of one floor of his penthouse on a sofa. As Victoria escorted them in, she indicated that they should make themselves comfortable. "According to Fortier as I'm now a Baron I should offer visitors refreshments..." began Marius. "...I told him he was the last Baron in the city other than possibly Isaac, and of course you Michael, who gives a shit about such things. Nonetheless if it keeps Baron Fortier happy I'll play along."

Michael was aware that Marius had met Fortier in the last few days. The way he had heard it told, Louis had demanded the meeting and Marius had obliged. Much to the surprise of many who had expected Marius to tell him to fuck off. "Would you like your refreshments from bottle or vein?"

Michael indicated that preserved blood would be fine though Hope and Daniel both declined. The blood wine wasn't one of Leanna's best creations but Michael couldn't imagine that Marius drank it himself very often. More than likely he just had some nearby for guests.

"How did your meeting with Baron Fortier go?" asked Michael, trying to make the question sound casual. Marius answered freely so Michael presumed he had succeeded. "He wanted to know how many of the rumours being circulated by 'The Oratory' about Ralph's opinions were true. I told him they might have become exaggerated in the telling but that there was undoubtedly a core of truth to them all.

Ralph Harwood - Ventrue
Leader of the 'Blue Bloods' Gang
Michael knew that this was a lie but as it suited him for such slander to spread he made no comment. Marius continued. "I needed to see his childe Catherine anyway so I indulged him on this occasion, but I digress. What is it I can do for you?"

"I believe that Daniel's questions are the most urgent, so I'll defer to him first." said Michael.

His first enquiry was about the sabotage that had occurred to Victor Girard's budding broadcast network. As Marius already knew that Victor was a problem, Daniel felt safe enough to ask general questions about his activities. Daniel planned to phrase his later questions as tactical enquiries relating to the security of the North-Eastern baronies so as to avoid any implication he was intent on interfering in the affairs of other baronies. 

"It wasn't me if that's what you're thinking." began Marius. "It's Miss Anatos who has been causing problems for Victors ambitious television and multi-media projects. His newspapers gave one of her films a terrible review. One out of ten I believe. She's very touchy about such things..." as far as Daniel could tell, what he was being told was the truth. Daniel decided to see how willing 'The Fixer' was to assist him. It turned out that he was very willing indeed. "If you have a plan that my input will increase the chances of success, with not too drastic consequences to myself, then I'll be more than happy to assist. I have no more desire to see Victor successfully than you yourselves."

Karen Anatos - Gangrel Anathema, Media Magnate

Content to have a potential ally on which to ask for help, he moved onto his next concern. Namely the gang of unbound ghouls who called themselves 'The Young Bloods'.

'The Young Bloods' - Unbound Ghoul Gang
"I've heard that they're coming into L.A. via one of the routes through the mountains. What do you think the chances are of locating their base?" Marius had to admit that they weren't good. Especially if the rumours of them having kindred prisoners to keep them in vitae were true.

"You're talking about a group with many of our advantages but not our one real weakness, namely the sun. They have the ability to move during the day which gives them double the travel time and a period of immunity from us. Of course we have our own ghouls but I understand the gang to be at least thirty strong now. That's a lot to fight your way through or sneak past, especially when they know what they're looking for." Daniel nodded his agreement with the assessment and then Marius continued. "Legitimate mortal agents are also an issue as their hideout is almost certainly a masquerade breach waiting to happen. Should the Second Inquisition become involved they're more likely to recruit them than eliminate them..." Marius stopped speaking and seemed to be considering the issue.

Myranda - Gangrel
Leader of The Wilds Pack
"I'll look into the viability of scouting the area and see if any opportunities present themselves. They are, after all, also a threat to some of my protectorates near to those mountainous areas. Give me a few nights and I'll let you know how viable your request is."

Daniel then decided to use Marius's train of thought to segue into another question he had on his mind. "I thought that might be what so many of The Wilds Gangrel were doing in the mountains these last few weeks..."

"You'd have to ask Myranda that..." replied Marius. "...they're her forces, not mine. I have no idea what she's up to..." Though Daniel was sure he was being lied to, he could detect no falsehood in the statement so decided to drop the subject. As Daniel seemed to have finished, Michael began.

"I'll start with a small confession." began Michael. "It was I who supplied weapons to Priss as you agreed I could along with my political guidance...however I understand that the blame has fallen upon you?" Mr Hertz had told Michael that he didn't think Marius could care less. He was right.

"If a kindred in this city stubs their toe, walks into the sun, or anything in between and there's no obvious culprit then I get the blame." said Marius, seemingly completely unconcerned. 

Victor Girard - Toreador
Grandechilde of Christopher
"Aegis is reinforcing her haven so it's an entirely reasonable assumption to blame me. Don't give it another thought." With one problem apparently solved, Michael, like Daniel, began to discuss Victor.

"All the indications are that Victor isn't going to start a war. At least not as long as he's likely to be seen as the aggressor but he's certainly preparing for the possibility. I've considered moving against him myself but unfortunately he has member...who might be upset if someone he didn't favour was to hurt or destroy Mr Girard."

Michael was sure he was referring to Victors grandesire, Christopher Houghton.

Houghton was a notoriously fickly Toreador Elder because he flits from interest to interest with all of the dogged determination of a butterfly. Embraced during his early teens and in many ways still a child. 

He had existed behind the scenes in Los Angeles and was in many ways responsible for the cities creation in the first place. He was known to become obsessed with charismatic men and then 'assist' the object of his latest crush until he became bored and found another. Both Marius Walker and Isaac Abrams had hinted to Michael that he was Christopher's latest subject of interest.

Christopher Houghton - Toreador
Fickle, 5th Generation Elder
Marius continued. "However, if a kindred artist with whom Houghton was fascinated currently was to be the one responsible for Victors downfall then that would be different." Michael considered this for a moment before replying. "Perhaps then I should involve myself in this...testing of Victors character? just so any mysterious observers might be more likely to understand it's necessity and any consequences?"

"That sounds like an excellent idea, Baron Tomassio..." concluded Marius. Michael was still somewhat unused to the Gangrel 'Fixer' using his correct title but he was beginning to appreciate the show of respect.

With at least some idea about how to limit any fallout from the coteries plan to undermine Victor, Michael moved onto the subject of the main targets of Victors manipulations. These were Baron Martinez of El Hermandad and Baron Maller of Anaheim. Both were childer of Salvador Garcia and Victor was dangerously close to uniting them both under a single banner.

"Gloria is more like Garcia, whereas Allison seems to have put considerable effort into forging her own path while Gloria Martinez more closely follows the broad strokes of her sires objectives." Marius agreed that this was a fair assessment and Michael continued. 

Gloria Martinez - El Hermandad Baron, Allison Maller - Baron of Anaheim

"An alliance between the two would never be equal, Allison would always be secondary to Gloria and I think that fact might be worth reminding Allison of. Especially as should this split occur after a formal alliance was made then the resulting civil war would certainly drag other baronies into it. Essentially even without Victor, an alliance between the childer of Garcia inevitably ends with a war that will make the current disputes seem trivial in comparison." Marius agreed that Michael was potentially correct, he then indicated Victoria should join them.

Downtown and El Hermandad - Border
"Victoria has put an idea to me for a plan that might help with your campaign against Victor..." he paused briefly. "I'm not 100% convinced of it's merits but I'll let her explain herself and you can draw your own conclusions."

"Your problem as I see it..." began Victoria. " that you are attempting to undermine someone who has a proven track record of offering sound, often profitable advice and succeeding in negotiations where others have failed, yes?" Michael nodded, worried about where this might be going. Victoria wasn't exactly renowned for her humanity.

"If we, were to orchestrate a border dispute between Downtown and El Hermandad, one that also might threaten the involvement of The Wilds then Victor can't help but have to become involved. Especially as that severely impacts the amount of resources he has to harass Hank Boyd." Michael noticed that Victoria gave Marius a sideways glance. Apparently they were coming to the bit that Marius was dubious about. 

Marius Walker - Gangrel Baron of Downtown
'Being Unreasonable...'
"Then Marius defaults to one of his much maligned, belligerent asshole moods and refuses to accept even reasonable terms for a stand-down. This should impact on Gloria and Allison's confidence in Victor and make Mr Girard look weak in front of their Brujah followers. Then Michael offers to interject..." Michael raised an eyebrow and smiled. It was now obvious to him where the plan was going.

"Michael then succeeds spectacularly where Victor failed. War is averted and Michael's reputation as a peacemaker is reinforced, perhaps enough for both of Garcia's childer to consider an alternate advisor. At the very worst it will make Victor's claims of being able to find a peaceful solution between The Crypts sons and El Hermandad seem like an empty promise. They will hopefully presume that if he can't negotiate one peace then, the other would also be beyond him..."

Mercurio - Ghoul of Marius
Mercury Security Solutions
Michael could see why Marius wasn't a fan of this part of the plan. If not handled expertly he could easily find himself in an actual war with El Hermandad and vulnerable to attack from enemies of his own attempting to take advantage. "It seems a simple enough concept, though also a dangerous gamble." said Michael. "Daniel? can you see any other problems with the plan?"

Daniel believed that the plan was sound in of itself but shouldn't be put into action unless their other actions against Victor failed. Especially due to what might happen if the plan went wrong. "Though I do have another unrelated question. are you Mercurio's new regnant? Mr Hertz worked out who the others were and as they have all been destroyed, he put you as one of his top three candidates to have 'adopted' him..."

The Fixer admitted that he was, but also that he would appreciate that information being kept quiet. Not only might it ruffle some feathers amongst the Barons but it was also potentially damaging in the mortal world. Aegis Acquisitions also now being a major arms dealer, having acquired Mercury Security,  might not be seen in the most positive light by the more liberal of the countries news sources.

With that, the coterie prepared to leave. Hope however had a question of her own. "Do you happen to know anything about a group of organisation that fall under the banner of The Anubi?"

"That is something we should discuss another time, and in private." replied Marius. "But, yes. I can point you in the right direction at a more suitable time."

Storytellers Note - 'The Anubi' is a generic title for a number of kindred groups who come together to hunt werewolves. Hope has gotten a taste for werewolf blood and her player wanted to look into getting some dots in The Anubi loresheet. I'll create a sub-plot in the near future to oblige.

Scene Nine - To the 'Max'
Orla - Gangrel
Sweeper for the North East Baronies
Orla has been in touch and needs to meet you urgently. Apparently there's some trouble on the border with El Hermandad and she wants your input before bringing it to Michael. She has also messaged Daniel in case any 'cleaning up' needs to be done.

Just in case this became an issue that Michael definitely wouldn't want to be informed about, Daniel dropped their Baron back at his mansion and then Hope contacted Orla. They knew Michael would be busying himself verifying that the ring they had discovered the previous evening was indeed Martinelli's and no doubt making it presentable as a gift. This should give them time to resolve any issues before deciding if they were a 'need to know' or not.

"Max has caught two kindred sneaking around his feeding ground for the second time and has staked them both as he was told he's not allowed to destroy interlopers, by Michael. However being Gangrel he thought driving stakes through their hearts and dumping them in his cellar didn't count..."

Orla met them near to max's hunting ground and then escorted them the rest of the way.

Max's Haven is a small cabin in some woodlands near a cattle-farm. As you approach, Max's ghoul is waiting by the door with a dusty, but seemingly functional, modern short-barrelled shotgun held in both hands. A small revolver, possibly a 38. is tucked into her belt. Once she identifies you both she lowers the weapon and steps aside. Parked next to the cabin is a surprisingly well maintained Honda motorcycle, with top boxes and panniers, which is presumably how Max and his ghoul get around when travelling.

Daniel asked the ghouls name. She wasn't particularly talkative, merely identifying herself as 'Izzy'. Daniel noted that the gun was a Remington shotgun with a pistol grip. The girl seemed familiar with the weapon and was quite calm considering the situation. Hope was aware that Gangrel took particular care in choosing their ghouls so was less surprised than Daniel by their competence.

The cabin has just enough conveniences to keep a mortal fed and warm but has little to no decoration. A trap door is open in the floor leading to a store-room some three metres square with a low ceiling. Two kindred have been laid out in the corner, each impaled through the heart. The shorter one with a piece of post and the taller with a piece of branch, roughly sharpened at one end. Though the wooden post has entered it's target from the front, it's obvious that the sharpened branch however was driven in from above and behind. 

'Max' - Gangrel
Unaffiliated Anarch
Daniel recognises the tall one as a Brujah to which his friend Leo was once chatting in The Last Round.

"So Max. What happened then?" asked Hope.

Max explained that they'd been patrolling a bit more regularly and spotted the same two trespassers from last time. The pair had split up and so Max had decided to incapacitate them while they were separated. The first one had been ambushed as Max had dropped on them from the trees with a stake they'd prepared "Just in case...". The second one had been closer than Max had expected and so they had been required to improvise a bit. The closest thing to hand had been a piece of fence that they had snapped in two and drove through the interlopers chest before they had a chance to draw a weapon. "I was told that defending my feeding ground was okay as long as I didn't kill anyone..." they concluded

Hope, Daniel and Orla could see that Max was concerned that this might void their agreement with Michael about the allocated feeding ground. "Don't worry about shanking these pair..." said Hope reassuringly. "...I'll make sure that any report makes it clear you were defending yourself and the barony." They were then interrupted by Izzy who had just entered the cabin and had an unusual question. "Can any of you do that thing where you can see really far?"

Daniel confirmed that he could indeed.

Izzy had spotted something in the distance near to some trees but wasn't sure whether it was a natural creature or something else. She also had no intention of investigating on her own in a darkened wood possibly filled with trespassing vampires, for obvious reasons. Daniel told her to wait by the door and then disappeared into the shadows.

Daniel could see the glint of eyes some distance away. It was hard to tell from this distance but it looked like a Mastiff or other similarly large, heavy dog. As he closed he realised that it was too large to be normal. Silent as death and camouflaged by the shadows, the Banu Haqim was almost upon the creature before there was any reaction. As the Mastiff turned in his direction and began to sniff, Daniel realised that there was at least one weakness to his stealth capabilities.

As you approach, the Mastiff flows into a heavy-set, muscular but overweight man with a bushy beard. His hands are clenched, and one foot is forward but he is making no immediately threatening moves.

"If you don't want a bullet through your eye you might want to identify yourself." said Daniel coldly.

'Hogg' - Gangrel
Unaffiliated Anarch
The man was a Gangrel named Robson Hogarth but " can all me 'Hogg', everyone does..." He explained to Daniel that he was tracking the two interlopers but thought that Max might be a sweeper so didn't want to get into any more trouble by being perceived to be a poacher. He therefore kept out of the way. His curiosity was aroused by the kindreds capture and he was waiting to see what happened. Though this seemed reasonable enough, Daniel still insisted that Hogg walk in front.

Daniel asked him a few questions as they walked back to Max's cabin. "So you're the Gangrel who left Ralph's gang recently?"

He confirmed that he'd left Ralph Harwood's gang after an argument with Ralphs childe Theodor Clayton. Hogg had objected to been spoken to like a "...fucking piece of shit." so left. One of the gangs Caitiff, a guy called Dante tried to stop him and Hogg "...Put the wankers head through the door..." on his way out.

Daniel indicated that Hogg should go inside but warned him to not do anything stupid that might provoke the two Sweepers within, Max or himself. Hogg nodded his agreement. Four to one was bad odds for most kindred and he was no exception. "Do you know either of these bastards then?" asked Daniel pointing at the two staked kindred.

Hogg identified the short man as 'Reuben' Coleman, a Brujah who works for Ralph Harwood. According to Hogg he claimed he was a United States Army Ranger but Hogg thinks he was just regular army who "...made up a more impressive backstory for himself.". Hogg did grudgingly admit that the guy did have wilderness skills though so was probably the next best choice after himself to do scouting jobs. However he didn't recognise the tall white guy at all.

"You're still a trespasser in our barony..." said Hope. "...and it's my job to make sure any guests are both invited and behave themselves. Therefore now might be a good time to ingratiate yourself via any other useful pieces of information you might have." Hogg had seemingly decided that Hope had a point so relayed to her a discussion he had overheard between Ralph, his childe Theodore.

"Ralph and his fuckwit kid, Theodor were talking about their 'sponsor'. Apparently their job is to keep the vamps of L.A. looking West while this sponsor prick is up to some shady shit on the other side of the city."

San Fernando - A New Barony?
"When it's done this mysterious dickhead is going to use his new influence to clear up their reputations and support their claim to a barony of their own...and it's exactly this sort of shit I could do without, you know? The fucking politics? Are we cool, by the way, cuz I need to feed and I can't do it in your turf or this girls..." he said, indicating Max whose feeding ground this was.

"If you can survive an animal blood there's a herd of cattle not far from here." interrupted Max. "But you'd have to have permission from Hope as well. Like she said, Census Taker is her job..." Hope indicated that as long as that was all he did before leaving their domain that would be fine. She also informed him that he would need to speak to their Baron if he had any desire to spend any more time within the North-Eastern Baronies. He agreed to meet Michael at the coteries bar in two evenings time. "We might have some work for you." she concluded.

Once Hogg was out of the way, Hope and Daniel told Max that she might want to take her ghoul somewhere safe. Interrogations could be a messy business after all. Hope also told her that she was giving her official permission to patrol her domain and deal with any trespassers "Any way she felt like...", effectively making her a de facto Sweeper.

"Those are big holes..." pointed out Hope, indicating the gaping, chest wounds and the improvised stakes that had made them. "Not much vitae left in these pair, if any." Daniel agreed that simply removing the stakes was unlikely to result in the trespassers awakening. They'd need to be given an infusion of blood. "It will need to be from a kindred of lower generation to work." added Daniel. Hope didn't ask how he knew but guessed if anyone did know, it would be him.

From Hope's body language it was obvious to Daniel that she was very hungry so he volunteered to try first. Unfortunately a failure of communication between the two of them meant that neither Hope nor Daniel were actually restraining the kindred they were trying to awaken.

Storytellers Note - We're over seventy-five sessions in so were past the point where I ask "Are you sure you want to do that?"...

The stake was removed and kindred blood was dripped into the tallest of the two uninvited guests. With only enough blood to awaken them, the kindred frenzied the moment he emerged from torpor. Threatened and near frenzy herself, Hope reflexively attacked with her claws, decapitating the unfortunate creature before he had a chance to either attack or escape.

Trophies of the Hunt
"We'll call that one a warm-up." Said Hope quickly taking a picture of the kindreds face so they could at least see if anyone recognised them, before the destroyed kindreds body swiftly began to age as their years caught up with them. Hope also pulled out their still extended fangs so as to make identification of them as a kindred somewhat more difficult should the corpse ever be discovered. Or to be exact, that was the reason she gave Daniel. She actually wanted to add them to her trophy collection.

After some debate it was decided that they would take the other staked kindred somewhere more secure and interrogate them with a little more thought put into the process. Hope claimed to know of somewhere secure to keep the kindred until the next evening. Daniel helped her load the bodies into the back of her jeep, covered them with a tarpaulin and then the two coterie members went their separate ways. They also agreed that Michael didn't need to know any of what had transpired until they had more information and a better explanation for the unfortunate sequence of events.

Scene Ten - Interrogation
Alonzo Guillen - Nosferatu
Autarkis Elder, Ancient Warrens
While attempting to think of an out of the way place in which to awaken and interrogate the one surviving trespasser, Daniel remembered Alonzo's former Haven. The cave in the Pasadena hills was both out of the way, and within their own barony. It's former inhabitant now made their home in the most ancient part of the warrens beneath Hollywood so it had been vacant for some time. As Daniel and Alonzo were surprisingly close for kindred, he knew that his friend wouldn't mind him using his former home.

Daniel then contacted Michael to inform him that he wouldn't be available for the next few hours, he'd also probably need Hope, meaning she would be unavailable too. Deciding to continue with his usual policy of not asking questions to which he didn't want to hear the answer, Michael agreed that this was fine. If he needed a guard he could contact Vin easily enough.

Michael had been attempting to minimise Vin's involvement in any of the coteries activities that might make him even more doubtful about their aims but he was still incredibly useful if one needed protection.

After reminding Hope of the importance of bringing some restraints with her, Daniel also retrieved some manacles he'd acquired from the body of an assassinated kindred many months ago. He also bought some blood bags with him in case they needed to keep their subject from frenzying once awakened. 

Keith Chang - Ghoul of Daniel
Daniel also contacted his ghoul, Keith Chang, in case they needed to apply any methods of coercion that might be as dangerous to them as to their subject. Fire being the obvious example.

Daniel had been forced to park his car some distance from the cave as the terrain was unsuitable for further progress. He was carrying the equipment he deemed necessary in a military style canvass bag. He was nearly at the agreed location as Hope drove up next to him in her Jeep and offered him a lift the rest of the way.

Alonzo's cave was much as Daniel remembered it, it's entrance was concealed behind a rocky outcropping and several overgrown bushes and trees. There had been some disturbance near the cave entrance which Hope identified as the tracks of small animals. The creatures hadn't ventured far within, perhaps the lingering scent of such an unnatural predator as a kindred had been enough to dissuade them. Neither Daniel or Hope could see any supernatural reasons for the absence of animals within.

Hope hammered a number of spikes into the ground and used them as anchor points for the various chains and manacles they then wrapped around their subject. They might not be enough to fully restrain a Brujah if he had sufficient supernatural strength to break free though they'd certainly slow him down enough for Hope and Daniel to overpower them again. At least that was the theory.

Hope ripped the stake from Reuben's chest then fed them just enough vitae to awaken them and stave off frenzy. The restrained kindreds eyes flicked open as he struggled against his bonds, then noticed Hope standing over him. The bandolier of stakes she'd taken from a Second Inquisition agent was slung across her chest. "If you wish to avoid your friends fate then I suggest you be very cooperative indeed." suggested Hope with all the menace she could muster.

"If you're really helpful, we might even let you go..." added Daniel though something about his tone alerted Reuben to the fact that this was almost certainly a lie. "So firstly. What were you doing in our barony?"

Reuben had apparently decided to be at least nominally cooperative though was more than likely playing for time in Hope's opinion.

He told them that they were looking for a direct and unwatched route through Pasadena to San Fernando as skimming around the outside via the San Gabriel Mountains was now impossible due to "Those Wilds Pack fuckers" patrolling it extensively.

Henrique 'Hank' Boyd - Brujah
Baron of the Crypts Sons
Also "The Santa Clarita" lot have been patrolling down to nearly the border of San Fernando making that "a dangerous way to travel." "Especially now they've got 'Hanks Gangrel' working for them..." This last comment made both Hope and Daniel pay attention. They knew that two Sweepers of Hanks, both Gangrel, had apparently left his service after a difference of opinion about how much danger they were willing to put themselves in on The Crypts Sons behalf.

Gangrel were typically highly pragmatic as a clan and were far less likely to run headfirst into suicidal levels of danger than a Brujah was. If they had indeed gone to work for the pseudo Baronies of Simi and Santa Clarita, both of which were protectorates of the Baron of Downtown, then Marius must have known about it.

If he had merely took advantage of the situation to acquire two useful assets then that was one thing, however if it was his offer that made them leave in the first place then that was a more serious interference in the barony of another. Neither scenario was out of character for 'The Fixer'.

As they were talking to Reuben they noticed for the first time that his body was covered in burns and scars, evidently he is already no stranger to torture. When mortal someone had apparently worked him over with considerable skill and vigour. Hopefully this would make him more cooperative, not less.

"Now you can tell me about Ralph's 'sponsor'..." continued Daniel, hoping that Reuben would implicate Victor Girard in the plan. Reuben claimed to have no idea who Ralph's 'sponsor' is, and didn't even know he had one. He said that he was told by Ralph that he had permission to use the outskirts of El Hermandad as long as he was with their guy Jaimee Norman and that was all he knew.

Hope repeated the question and Reuben told him both to fuck off, insisting that he'd told them all he knew. "I'm curious..." began Daniel, ignoring the protestations. "I gathered that..." Interrupted their prisoner. "But I've told you everything I know so either let me go or fucking kill me, because I'm done."

"I still need to know about the relationship between El Hermandad and San Fernando." said Daniel, pressing once more. "Then we can discuss your fate..."

As Daniel moved closer to Reuben he ripped the chains from the ground and struck Daniel double-fisted in the chest. The blow sent him sprawling across the cave. Using what must have been the last of the vitae in his system he snapped the chains and lunged forward towards the prone Banu Haqim. 

Hope reacted instantly and leapt forward, intercept the Brujah. Both tumbled into a corner. Reacting instinctively to the threat, the Gangrel Hope, bit deeply into Reuben's throat then tore it out. Lost in frenzy once more she continued to drink even after he was drained.

Anxious to both save their subject and prevent Hope from committing diablerie once more, Daniel grabbed Hope and pulled her away. Unfortunately it was too late for Reuben, though he had prevented his colleagues humanity form plummeting even further. Now he just had to survive Hope's reaction. 

Hope easily broke free from Daniel's grasp, as her physical strength far surpassed his but managed to restrain herself from retaliating. Daniel's ghoul had backed into a corner. He'd clearly never witnessed a true display of a kindreds raw power when frenzied and now he'd witnessed it twice in quick succession.

"Go deal with your ghoul..." said Hope. "...I need a moment to myself..."

Scene Eleven - Confessions
Andrew Francis - Ghoul of Daniel
'Slightly more stable than Keith...'
Keith was somewhere between terrified and fascinated and Daniel felt that he owed his loyal follower a truthful explanation. He explained that kindred had another voice inside them known by them as 'the beast' which sometimes eroded their self-control. "I've never seen anything move that fast with that much strength." stated Keith. Daniel couldn't tell if he was still afraid or if that emotion had now been filled with a desire to achieve that power. "I'll be fine here..." said Daniel. " go and see if Andrew needs any help with his investigations and I'll meet up with you later."

As Daniel re-entered the cave where the interrogation had taken place, he noted that Hope had seemingly pulled herself together. Unfortunately the traces of kindred vitae splattered around the room were doing nothing to help Daniel's own newly awakened craving for kindred blood. His pacing an agitation were obvious to Hope who new the behaviour of an addict when she saw it.

"So are you going to tell me now, or not?" asked Hope, not unkindly. "Because there's definitely still something wrong with you..." Finally growing weary of keeping the secret from his ally, Daniel began to explain.

He told Hope of the Banu Haqim's historic battle with their desire to slake their thirsts on kindred vitae and that once they began to drink it, it was almost impossible for them to stop. He also confessed that he'd beaten the addiction once and had returned to his career as a surgeon in part to give something back after all the lives and unlives he'd taken. Then he'd returned to his former career as a favour to Marius, assisting the coterie with a retrieval job suited to his expertise.

Vannevar Thomas - Ventrue
Camarilla Prince of San Francisco
Storytellers Note - His meeting with the coterie occurred way back in session seven, detailed HERE.

His subsequent recruitment to Michael's cause had involved him in many battles against other kindred and several indiscretions had began to reawaken the desire. Then, quite recently, he'd diablerised a kindred agent of Prince Vannevar's in what could only be described as a complete lack of control after a poorly planned job he was almost embarrassed to describe. He should have realised then that his control was slipping, but sadly he only realised it too late. "You sometimes seem to be managing it and other times very much not..." prompted Hope. "...does your control come and go?"

"I have used a significant boon in order to be supplied a 'fix' of vitae once each week..." Daniel replied, though was careful not to reveal the details of the arrangement. "...and it takes the edge off, but isn't a perfect solution by any means."

Hope, who could now gain little sustenance herself from anything but kindred blood, sympathised but didn't fully understand the issue. Her own problem was different but she had simply accepted it, found a regular food source and then got on with her night to night business. "Is it really something you need to fix?" asked Hope.

"Not under normal circumstances." confessed the Banu Haqim. "But I've been pretending to be a Brujah and my true clan could be discovered if this secret was revealed." This was actually a significant problem. Several influential, and exclusively Brujah, groups now accepted Daniel as a member. 

Should they discover his subterfuge the reprisals would no doubt be swift and brutal. Not to mention the knock on effect with the coteries allies who may lose faith in them or withdraw their support completely.

"I gain no sustenance from anything but kindred vitae." confessed Hope for the first time to any outside of the duskborn who fed her addiction. "But I have a solution should you ever need another fix, or even wish to simply accept what you now are and move on."

"I'm not sure how that would fit in with Michael's dream." replied Daniel. For the first time that evening, Hope laughed out loud, but it was bittersweet. "I believe in his dream too, but dreams such as that need to be enforced. Enforced by monsters such as us. You see that, don't you?" Daniel was sad to say that he understood completely.

"I'll give it some thought..." replied Daniel noncommittedly. "...and I'd appreciate you keeping it to yourself."

"Who the hell would I tell?" replied Hope.

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...

No amusing Meme this time.

Some breath-taking roleplay in the final scene of this session as the coteries two addicts finally confessed their respective addictions. The completely different attitudes to their respective problems was also roleplayed brilliantly.

It seemed like an excellent place to end part two of this story.

Portions of the materials are the copyrights and trademarks of White Wolf Entertainment AB, and are used with permission. All rights reserved.

I've used pictures of real people to represent some of the characters and art for others so in no particular order Michael Tomassio is represented by Matt Bomer, 'Vin' is Scott Adkins, Dr Matthews is Mads Mikkelsen, Hope is Deborah Ann Woll, Mr Hertz is Charles Dance, Victoria is Lilith May, Louis Fortier is Eduardo Verastegui, Catherine Du Bois is Margot Robbie, Ralph Harwood is D.B. Woodside, Karen Anatos is Christina Hendricks, Myranda is Shannyn Visceral, Victor Girard is Bob Hoskins, Gloria Martinez is Ariadne Artiles, Allison Maller is Chloe Grace Moretz, Marius Walker is Tony Curran, Mercurio is Taylor Kitsch, 'Max' is Milla Jovovich, 'Hogg' is Nick Frost, Keith Chang is Daniel Dae Kim, Henrique 'Hank' Boyd is Michael Clarke Duncan, Andrew Francis is Ray Stephenson and Vannevar Thomas is Bryan Dechart.

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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