Friday, 11 June 2021

Vampire the Masquerade - V5 - Session Eighty Eight - 'The War Council' (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 chronicle is set in Los Angeles and features a small group of Camarilla agents sent into the 'Free States' to bring them back under Camarilla control. Over a year of plotting allowed the coterie to gain control of two North-Eastern Baronies and a large part of a third. Now they are moving on to the final stage of their campaign and have their eyes on taking over the entire city, either directly or by proxy.
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The now obligatory warning bit - Unlike my other RPG write-ups this one will contain swearing, sexual references and other references that might offend. If you can't tell the difference between real             peoples opinions and grown-ups role-playing predators who crave blood then this probably won't be for you. I've also used actual photographs to represent some characters which I'll give acknowledgements to at the end if I've any idea who they are.
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The introduction to this campaign, the first story and all the other parts can be found at the following links and are in chronological order. If you'd prefer a summary of each session rather than read everything then there's a more detailed link page HERE as well as links to the first episode of each story in the blog sidebar.
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Chronicle One - 'Infiltrate L.A.' 
Welcome to L.A. - Introductory Session
Story One - 'Three Murders' - Part OneTwo, ThreeFour and Five
Interlude Session - One
Story Two - 'The Pasadena Problem' - Part OneTwoThree, and Four
Solo Session - 'The Neillson Library'
Story Two Continued- 'The Pasadena Problem' - Part FiveSixSeven and Eight
Story Three - 'Becoming Baron' - Part OneTwoThreeFour and Five
Solo Session - 'The Gather'
Story Three Continued - 'Becoming Baron' - Part SixSeven and Eight
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Chronicle Two - 'Foothold L.A.' 
Solo Session - 'Hostile Takeover'
Story Four - 'Countdown' - Part OneTwo and Three
Story Five - 'The Missing Chantry' - Part OneTwoThreeFour and Five
Solo Session - 'The Anaheim Assassination'
Story Six - 'A Meeting of Barons' - Part OneTwo and Three
Story Seven - 'The Carmelita Situation' - Part OneTwo and Three
Story Eight - 'The Blount Sisters' - Part One and Two
Story Nine - 'Blood Money' - Part OneTwoThreeFour, Five and Six
Story Ten - 'Anathema' - Part One and Two
Story Eleven - 'Predators and Prey' aka 'The Blount Sisters' - Part Three
Story Twelve - 'Aftermath' - Part One and Two
Story Thirteen - 'The Messiah Complex' - Part OneTwoThree and Four
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Chronicle Three - 'Incursion L.A.'
Story Fourteen - 'The Rant'
Story Fifteen - 'Ties of Blood' - Part One and Two
Solo Session - 'A Gathering of Roses'
Story Sixteen - 'The Southern Solution' - Part OneTwo and Three
Story Seventeen - 'The Baker Disappearance' - Part OneTwo and Three
Story Eighteen - 'Inevitable Betrayals' - Part OneTwoThreeFour and Five
Story Nineteen - 'The Marius Contracts' - Part One and Two
Story Twenty - 'The MacNeil Protocols' - Part OneTwoThreeFourFive
Story Twenty - 'The MacNeil Protocols' - Part SixSevenEightNine and Ten
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Interlude Session One - After Griffith Park
Interlude Session Two - Divide and Conquer
Interlude Session Three - On the Brink of War
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Chronicle Four - 'Conquest L.A.'
Story Twenty One - 'Veni, Vidi, Victor' - Part OneTwoThreeFourFive
Story Twenty One - 'Veni, Vidi, Victor' - Part Six, and Epilogue
Story Twenty Two - 'The Unbound' - Part OneTwoThree and Four
Story Twenty Three - 'The War Council' - Part One and Two
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The PC's
Michael Tomassio - Toreador, 'Baron of the North East'
Vincent 'Vin' Ghast - Brujah, 'Constable'
Dr Daniel Matthews - Banu Haqim, 'Fixer'
Hope Romero - Gangrel, 'Census Taker'
Mr Hertz - Nosferatu, 'Seneschal'

The Storyteller
Garreth - Everyone else...

The player characters stats and backgrounds can be found HERE should any-one be interested, but be warned that the page is usually several stories ahead of the most recent write-up and may contain some spoilers. 

There's also some minor 'house-rules' HERE that have occurred as we went along.

If I think something needs a bit of out of character explanation then those will get a storytellers note that will helpfully be in red. 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.

Introduction
The meeting of the thirteen Barons and pseudo Barons that make up the Anarch Council has begun and progress has already been made. Firstly, Baron Fortier of West L.A. and Baron Walker of Downtown have put aside their differences in order to fully focus upon the issue of the Camarilla invasion of the city. Secondly, with Michael's explanation about why his own barony was seemingly spared Vannevar's wrath accepted, the business about what to do next can begin.

Scene Eight - Moving Forward
Myranda Maria - Gangrel
Pack Leader of The Wilds Pack
Myranda, Baron of The Wilds, and the packs under her command had been patrolling extensively and had destroyed a number of careless scouting parties that had ventured Southwards from San Jose. Given the fact that Vannevar was clearly planning on adding Los Angeles to his empire, they had also began to broaden their patrol areas. Myranda confirmed this to the council.

"We are patrolling extensively but are only engaging forces that stray too close. Some of my compatriots are impulsive and so the possibility of being led into a trap is a concern. We are therefore edging on the cautious side."

There were a few grunts of disbelief at the word 'cautious'. The Wilds were considered a no-go area by most of the cities kindred populace specifically because it's inhabitants were so aggressively territorial. Many presumed that Marius had a hand in guiding their actions so this might explain a more considered approach to the problem. Marius could also be unpredictable but his tactical skills were unquestionably well honed.

Michael decided to move things forward a little and addressed those assembled.

"Our next order of business is to organise a united defence of our city. It's unusual for so many kindred to be united in a single goal but we must be to compete with this invasion of our territory. The Camarilla forces ranging against us are regimented, their chain of command has structure and they have undoubtedly bene preparing this campaign for some time. Many of you here are aware of Daniel's abilities in this area and so I'll defer to his assessment of the situation."

Edward Kaya - Banu Haqim
Sire of Daniel Matthews
Daniel tended to avoid being centre stage as he had been attempting to avoid the attention of his Banu Haqim sire. In order to maintain his anonymity he had been claiming to be of Clan Brujah since his arrival in the city. Only his coterie and a small number of the cities kindred were aware of the truth of the matter.

Daniel laid out the tactical situation as he understood it and clarified the situation for all present. With no Baron to organise it's forces the South Coast was now very vulnerable and the docks were certain to be a prime target for Vannevar's troops and this issue needed to be addressed as a matter of urgency. He also reminded the kindred leaders assembled that assassination and espionage were highly likely. 

Having eliminated several Barons already it was only common sense that he wouldn't give up. In fact he would be even deadlier in future having learnt from his initial failures. Infiltrators were also certain to have been established within Los Angeles, perhaps months or even years previously and so any suspicious activity by newcomers to the city would need to be rigorously investigated. He also reiterated what his Baron Michael had already stated which was that fighting as individuals on multiple fronts was doomed to failure. The Anarchs needed to be united and working towards a single goal.

Louis Fortier - Ventrue
Baron of West Los Angeles
Louis Fortier rose and began to speak. The assembled kindred fell silent. Baron Fortier was not the sort of individual who it was wise to interrupt or offend.

"Michael's scourge is of course correct." began Louis. "An initial priority must be to hunt down and eliminate Vannevars spies and assassins that are already no doubt infesting our domains. Though we are used to working as individuals, I believe that it might be useful to pool our resources in such a hunt. Several of us have access to followers both kindred and kine with skills in that area. Together they can accomplish more than they could as individuals."

The suggestion of a joint operation coming from Louis himself was a great relief to Michael. Louis's opinion still carried more authority than his own and it saved him having to make the suggestion himself.

"My scourge Marco, despite being a Gangrel has a more systematic method to his role than the usual more direct approach and my own ghoul 'Jax' is also a skilled investigator. If others of similar inclinations are available then they could act together and answer...temporarily to this council in order to avoid any personal agendas emerging." It's very obvious to all that this last comment was referring to Marius and normally he would have said so directly. It seemed that he was attempting to be diplomatic in reference to his fellow Baron which was a positive sign. "If the information brokers amongst the Nosferatu could also share knowledge in a similar manner then that might also prove useful."

Scene Nine - Knowledge is Power
Gary Golden took this as his cue to speak.

Gary Golden - Nosferatu
Hollywood's Nosferatu
"I have spoken to Quinn, eldest childe of Tilly Kelly, so-called Mistress of the Swarm and between us we have clarified our respective patrol areas so as to avoid any misunderstandings. They are more than effective shock-troops but with all due respect to others of their bloodline...they will be useless in an strategic application of assets..." He then nodded in Marius's direction. Tilly was one of Marius childer and Gary was seemingly giving Marius a chance to comment. Instead, Marius simply gestured for the Nosferatu to continue.

The coterie had encountered Tilly and her cannibalistic horde before and they knew that Gary's assessment was correct. They were certainly useful but as a sledgehammer, not a scalpel.

Gary continued. "Louis is correct that there is much that could be accomplished if I, and the other Nosferatu were to share information. It is my understanding that Bertram Tung operates from beneath this very building. It might be worthwhile if I began straight away given the close proximity of another significant of the cities information brokers. With Marius's permission of course..."

"Bertram is expecting you." replied Marius, having clearly anticipated this situation. He gestured to Victoria who was nearby. "Please escort Gary to Bertram's suite below this building so he can start work immediately..."

Marius Walker - Gangrel
Baron of Downtown
Marius's willingness to allow Gary use of his agent's systems was somehow more worrying than if he had refused. Generosity was not one of his virtues and any charitable act immediately had all who witnessed it attempting to ascertain what he was really up to. Often this was the point. If Marius had one weakness it was the fact that he was often willing to let events spiral out of control, simply to make them more interesting.

Allison Maller, Baron of Anaheim took the lull in conversation as an opportunity to make her own points.

"The kindred of San Francisco now within L.A. must have a base of operations, several in fact seems to be the most likely explanation. Furthermore they must have food sources within easy reach and access to the logistics necessary to transport troops, equipment and weaponry from place to place. The fact that these have been established right under our noses is a disturbing thought. It seems that our recent internal squabbles have blinded us to the wider threats to the Anarchs of this city. Los Angeles is held by many Anarchs as an example of a city that functions without the interference of the Camarilla. The impact upon all Anarchs should it fall is something that is terrifying to contemplate. This is a battle that we cannot afford to take lightly..."

Victoria Anne - Ancient Ghoul
Psychotic P.A. of Marius
Marius interrupted. "We lack intelligence on the particulars of his operation. We need to hunt down one of Vannevar's teams and interrogate them thoroughly." Many of the Barons were aware of Marius's ghoul Victoria's fearsome reputation in the area of enhanced interrogation. That she could extract what they needed to know was not in doubt though the 'how' was something that was best not thought about to much.

Daniel had helped Allison on several occasions and had a professional relationship with Marius and therefore felt comfortable to interject without worrying to much about potential consequences.

"Allison makes many valid points, as does Marius. But perhaps we need to discover what we can via reconnaissance before we actively provoke an assault with a kidnap of enemy personnel. However should we be able to capture an enemy from the forces in the San Gabriel Mountains then that might be preferable as that conflict is already ongoing. A captive taken there would draw less suspicion and be less likely to tip our hand."

Michael wasn't happy about the idea of a Marius with a free hand to act independently so made an addition to the suggestion. "Perhaps Marius and Nines could join forces in such an endeavour?" There were murmurs of approval from around the table. It seemed that other kindred present were also reticent to have Marius doing as he pleased while the rest of them were bound to a single plan.

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

Scene Ten - A Vacuum of Power
Gloria Martinez then bought an early point back to the fore of the debate. "The South Coast will need a leader if they are to assist us with our efforts. Who is next in line with Baron Booth destroyed and Hector missing?" All eyes turned to Harvey Caplan, the Ventrue who ran the docks on Steve's behalf to gain his assessment of the situation.

Harvey Caplan - Ventrue
South Coast
"My own followers have consolidated back into the docks where I have complete control." He said, matter of factly. "The rest of those who were previously united only via Steve's charisma have began to forge their own empires. No particular individual has the power or resources to gain dominance over the area and so there are now half a dozen groups feuding for whatever turf they think they can maintain."

Michael could see the long term benefits of a weakened South in regards to his own ambitions but these were exceptional circumstances and against Vannevar's invasion they needed the docks to be protected. Michael's thought process was interrupted as the previously quiet Vin made a statement in his usual 'to the point' style.

"Why can't Harvey just do the Baron's job then?" Michael had been planning a more subtle approach to the suggestion but it was out there now. He sat back to observe the Baron's reactions.

"If this council wishes me to take on the role until this situation is resolved then I'm willing to do so." replied Harvey. At this point Baron Fortier voiced what many others had been thinking.

"If he's fulfilling the role of a Baron then he's the Baron. I don't see what is to be gained by declaring the role temporary only to have more debates in the future. If we need to make it formal then let's vote on it right now. All those in support of Harvey becoming Baron of the South Coast raise a hand..." The impatience in Louis's tone was evident to all.

Therese Voerman - Malkavian
Baron of Santa Monica
Louis's hand was unsurprisingly the first to be raised, followed by Marius.

Somewhat more surprisingly the third hand was that of Therese Voerman, Baron of Santa Monica. With the support of these three behind him, the rest soon gave their approval too.

"How long do you think it will take you to unite your newly acquired Barony?" said Michael, addressing Baron Caplan directly.

"Forty Eight hours should be enough." was the confident reply. "Some of Steve's people may object but I'm sure they can be persuaded that unity is necessary especially if I have the support of this council."

Vin leaned down and whispered something into Michael's ear. "Harvey is ambitious but according to his right hand man Knowles, a Brujah whose opinion I trust, he has a code of honour of sorts. He'll be a useful ally."

Michael nodded his agreement and then changed the subject to the discussion of the significantly weakened Barony of the Angels. "While the topic is on baronies whose weakness effects the whole, perhaps we should discuss Hank Boyd of the Crypts Sons?"

Henrique 'Hank' Boyd - Brujah
Baron of the Crypt Sons
When no-one objected, He continued. "Hank survived the attack upon his base of operations, but barely, and as you all know is now in torpor. A great deal of Vitae would be required to revive him and heal his extensive wounds but I believe that it's a necessity to get him back into the fight. With all due respect to Deacon, he is not a warleader, and Hank also has the respect of the mortal gang members in a way not easily replicated." Deacon raised no objection and the general consensus in the room was that the idea was sound enough, in theory.

The attention turned to Deacon for his own opinion and it was obvious to Michael, and possibly others, that he wasn't comfortable at all. "The only kindred that Hank has spoken of as ones he trusts are Michael and Gary. I mean no offense to the other Barons present but those are the facts."

"My generation is insufficient to raise Hank." said Gary, but it was difficult to tell if he was being truthful. "So that leaves Michael. But we must bear in mind that the amount of Vitae necessary to revive Hank would certainly leave him, at least in part, blood-bound to the kindred who revived him."

Michael scanned those present to observe their reactions. Daniel who was a skilled profiler was attempting to do the same, Vin was more concerned about any who might object in a more aggressive fashion.

'Priss' - Lasombra
Baron of 'The Border'
Priss, whose domain was sandwiched between the Crypts Sons and Downtown, was clearly unhappy with the idea, though it was difficult to tell whether this related to the Blood Bond itself or the simple fact of Hank being awakened. Priss and Hank had once been allies but of late their relationship had become distant and somewhat antagonistic. Gloria Martinez and Allison Maller were also quite obviously against the idea. El Hermandad and the Crypts Sons had been feuding for a long time so this was understandable. As allies it was unsurprising that what concerned Gloria, also concerned Allison.

Michael decided to go for broke.

"If this council believes that a blood-bound Hank is somehow more problematic than having a leaderless Crypts Sons and a massive hole in the centre of the city that is un-defendable then that's their decision..."

Once again it was Louis Fortier who broke the deadlock.

"A blood bond isn't some magic switch that instantly commands obedience, and it doesn't last forever either. Hank was a Baron of one of the largest Kindred forces in the city and controlled the largest mortal gang at the same time. He's not some weak willed neonate with no mind of his own." Michael could see that those with objections were weighing up the consequences of disagreeing with Louis.

"Well that's decided then." said Marius. "Now might be a good time for a brief break, I have arranged refreshments..." At a click of his fingers, one of the side doors opened and Leanna entered along with several individuals bearing trays on which were bottles of 'wine' and glasses.

The identities of these individuals raised some concerns with several of those present...

Scene Eleven - Sommelier
Leanna - Duskborn
Blood Sommelier
Leanna's primary task in Marius's employ was to manage his herd of blood dolls which she did with a combination of charisma, manipulation, brainwashing and just the correct amount of fear. She had formally been in the employ of a sinister group known as 'The Circulatory System' which traded in blood dolls of particular resonances and 'flavour' for an elite kindred clientele. It was with them that she perfected her abilities in not just this area but also in the bonding of vitae to other beverages in the art of the Blood Sommelier. 

Her creations were some of the most sought after in the city by those who could afford to pay the exorbitant price in both money and boons. Marius of course, took his percentage from the profits.

The concern to Amara of the Liberated was that the majority of Leanna's assistants were duskborn taken as prisoners by Marius after he had successfully crushed the Cross rebellion led by Jenna Cross.

Storytellers Note - The event in question can be found HERE though it will make more sense if you read the story from the beginning, starting HERE.

The majority were female and all were beautiful in one way or another. Those amongst Amara's own group who recognised them were sure that they had been physically altered in some manner as they were far more attractive now than they had been before, as if each had had their imperfections removed. What was also concerning was that none seemed to recognise their former friends and allies. All were wearing the familiar blood drop necklace that indicated to another kindred that these individuals belonged to Marius.


Michael, Daniel and Vin had all been present at that battle and also recognised those who had been taken. Michael clearly disapproved of this from a moral point of view but was in no position to criticise without undermining the unity that had already been achieved. Vin whose primary source of income revolved around the sex trade seemed to be unconcerned about the reduction of another person to the status of a mere resource. Part of Daniel believed that they had been judged for their failure, though the more moral side of his character agreed with Michael.

Amara Martins - Duskborn
Current Leader of 'The Liberated'
Realising the delicate nature of their status, Amara indicated to her followers to keep their opinions to themselves for now. Her curiosity was also focussed on the wine set before her. The concept of being able to feed without the need to seek prey was something she had never considered existing.

Sensing her curiosity, Leanna spoke. "It is a relatively simple process for any with sufficient knowledge of Alchemy and the necessary equipment. The real art is matching resonance to the taste of the beverage and maintaining the balance between the two. Of course if flavour is no issue then some of the more sophisticated methods involved in the bonding process are unnecessary..."

Daniel was listening to the conversation and noted how easily Amara's moral outrage had been sated by the mere hint of the new knowledge.

Michael also noted that Leanna had apologised to the Ventrue present that the wines presented to them in particular were "Somewhat bland due to the necessity to keep their resonances neutral...". This was understandable as Ventrue were all cursed with a particular preference of feeding vessel and without knowing what these were, tailoring a wine for them would have been difficult. Such feeding preferences were usually a carefully guarded secret amongst the Ventrue due to the potential for such knowledge to be used against them by rivals and enemies.

As the assembled Barons used the break to form small groups to discuss what had occurred so far, Michael and his coterie sat quietly and observed. Much could be learned from seeing who each Baron considered worthy of their attention...


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...

The players did well to guide the meeting in the direction they wanted, though were forced to make a number of compromises that may well come back to haunt them later.

The actual council meeting itself should be resolved next session and after that I have something a bit different planned for them...

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

I've used pictures of real people to represent some of the characters and art for others so in no particular order Michael Tomassio is represented by Matt Bomer, 'Vin' is Scott Adkins, Dr Matthews is Mads Mikkelsen, Hope is Deborah Ann Woll, Mr Hertz is Charles Dance, Myranda is Shannyn Visceral, Edward Kaya is Laurence Fishburne, Louis Fortier is Eduardo Verastegui, Marius Walker is Tony Curran, Victoria is Lilith May, Gloria Martinez is Ariadne Artiles, Allison Maller is ChloĆ« Grace Moretz, Harvel Caplan is Harvey Keitel, Therese Voerman is Whitney Moore, Henrique 'Hank' Boyd is Michael Clarke Duncan, Priss is Sofia Boutella, Leanna is Leeanna Vamp and Amara Martins is Indira Varma.

Everything else is from vampire related folders and searches and is as far as I know is all of the 'fair use' variety. If there's something that you feel should be attributed to some-one then feel free to let me know and I'll happily add an acknowledgement.

Friday, 4 June 2021

Cyberpunk Red - 'Holliday' - Solo Session - "Hunter's Hunted"

A roleplay session in the world of Cyberpunk Red
This session was written up by our Gamesmaster Matt and formatted for my blog by me.


The Players
Our players were all started at Rank 4

Phil as 'Holliday', 
Nomad: Rank 5

Gamesmaster
Matt as everyone else.

Scene introductions and 'speaking to the players' bits are written in Blue to distinguish them from the roleplayed parts of the scenes.

Solo Session: "Hunter's Hunted"
Introduction
It has been two weeks since you returned from the Hot Zone. During that time, you have been in the Badlands helping to rebuild the Prylor pack’s caravan and have managed to get some time for therapy to adapt to your latest cyberware upgrades. The vehicle you took from the tower when you rescued the netrunner, known as Spydar was a well-received gift to the Prylor pack and they have been extremely welcoming of you amongst them while you have tried to avoid spending too much time in the city, after your week in therapy.

A Vehicle 'Acquired' by Holliday, via Budget Arms

The stress of not knowing where you stood has been a weight on your shoulders. Your companion’s cold-blooded murder of your previous client, Preston Garvey, could have left you with a price on your head. You opted to lay low until you received a message from Avery himself telling you he had been promoted to Garvey’s vacated position and you were in fact now officially on retainer with Budget Arms.

With that worry laid to rest, you have had a niggling thought in the back of your mind you have been unable to shake. Perhaps it’s spending time with the Prylor pack or maybe it’s the residual anger of your own childhood experiences with the Raffen Shiv, either way, you can’t get it out of your head that they are still out there somewhere, preying on more unfortunates. 

The Camp
It was late in the morning and everyone had been up and about ready for the day for a while. The air was dry and warm and slightly dusty. “Hmm, must be a storm brewing.” Holliday murmured to himself. 

He drained his coffee, gazing out across the desert towards the main Aldecaldo camp east of the city. 
Iris and Aela, two of the survivors from the raid were out with the Jaecob Salome. There has been talk of another pack donating a vehicle to help the Prylors out. It wasn’t much, but it would be enough to get them back to transporting goods again and that would give them half a chance of getting back on their feet. The rest of the group were working around the camp. Holliday admired the way that they pulled together through their grief and adversity.

The Prylor caravan itself was still small, with a few small tents, a mid-sized gazebo used for mealtimes and a station set up where Spydar could be seen working to set up a connection to CityNet. Emersyn Prylor hobbled across from him back towards the gazebo. Despite her broken leg, she insisted on continuing to manage the business needs of the group. Medow Salome had been helping as much as she was allowed to, but Emersyn was throwing herself wholly into her work. The two of them were trying to mitigate the loss of business as a result of losing the pack’s old vehicles in the Raffen attack.

Holliday walked over to the gazebo. Emersyn was pouring over a map seemingly tracing transport lines onto it with a pencil. As he approached she looked up. “Holliday.” She said in greeting.

Emersyn Prylor - Nomad
Prylor Pack Leader
Mornin’” Said Holliday “I wanted to run something by you.

She sat back from the map, giving him her attention. “What can I do you for?

Those fuckers we dealt with, too late.” Said Holliday “They must’a had friends. I want to look into it. Track them down some.

We’re stretched pretty thin here.” Said Emersyn. “We can’t spare the people to go track them down, as much as I’d like to.

I know, I was going to look into this myself. I just wanted your permission so to speak to go after them. I’ve got people I can call on to help once I know where the Raffen are hiding out.”

I got no problem with seeing those fuckers’ dead.” Said Emersyn. “What do you need from us?

You got any direction to point me in?” Said Holliday. “Other people going missing? Raids? Anything?

I’ve heard of other families going missing but they left no trail to follow. We were lucky I guess, you and the Salomes saw the smoke from the fires. Not everyone is so lucky.” She said “The disappearances aren’t always in the same area if we do get any evidence of where they went missing from. Could be that the disappearances are unrelated or it could be that the Shiv are avoiding leaving a pattern. They are very mobile.” She pointed at a few spots on the map. “We know of folks going missing out here and here, but not in any sort of close time frame. You thought of checking the market instead?

What are you thinking?” Said Holliday.

If they’re trafficking organs, maybe you could look for a dealer. We bought out medical supplies from Crew Sanchez. That’s his area of expertise. Maybe he has more knowledge of the market, buyers, sellers, supply train or whatever.

Preem.” Said Holliday. “That’s a lead I can follow.” He waited while Emersyn sent him Sanchez’s contact details.

Lynk Prylor - Nomad, Prylor Pack
Lynk Prylor, Emersyn’s youngest son had been very withdrawn since the death of his older brother and step-father. He had taken to riding his bike out in the desert solo. The whole camp knew that Emersyn was not happy about this but injured as she was she hadn’t been able to stop him. Privately, as protective as she was, she also recognised that Lynk was dealing with his grief in his own way and maybe it was best to let him get on with it.

I acted out after what happened to me.” Holliday started. “Some say I’m still acting out. The way I see it, we all got to look after each other out here.” He looked her in the eye. “I’ll keep an eye out for Lynk, make sure he doesn’t get into trouble.

For a second, the mask slipped and Holliday could see the vulnerability of the worried mother. But only for a second. “Thank you.” She said. “You’re right, we gotta look after the family.

I’m going to check in with Spydar, then I’m heading out. You look after yourself.” Said Holliday heading for the netrunners station.

Spydar was busily connecting up a transmitter to a terminal he had set up in his tent. It put Holliday in mind of old listening posts set up for intelligence gathering in the 1940’s. “How you settling in?” He asked.

I’m only just getting set up out here you know. I’m trying to get used to gathering information the analogue ways, sharing it between families and stuff. Hopefully once I’ve got this station set up, I can get back into the CityNet and be a bit more use.” Said Spydar.

Speaking of that. I have a small favour to ask as far as computation goes?” Said the nomad.

What you got in mind?

You know about the misfortunes the pack went through recently?

Spydar - Netrunner, Prylor Pack
Spydar looked around, perhaps slightly apprehensively. “I heard something about it. I don’t want to pry too much, it sounds like stuff went south pretty badly.

If I get you data about missing persons, could you run a program that maps out the disappearances?” Said Holliday. “I’m thinking about if we can spot a pattern, maybe predict where attacks might happen in future. We can start warning people in future.

Spydar looked intrigued. “That’s a good idea. I’m pretty sure I could write a program for that sort of thing. You’d need to get me the data though.” 

You looking for missing people? Obviously I’m not much use yet out here, but I had contacts back in the city. There was a PI, Cass Optekar. He used to work for Infocomp back before the DataKrash. Once that went to shit though he set himself up. He’s been doing it for years and he’s preem.

You mind me name dropping you if I get in contact?” Said Holliday thinking about Spydar’s status as a wanted man.

Yeah, you can namedrop me, but don’t go into detail about where I am.” He paused for a second. “Though to be honest, if he wanted to find me, I don’t doubt he could. He’s very good.

Thanks.” Said Holliday, taking the contact number.

'Code' Mounter - Nomad, Prylor Pack
He could make out Code Mounter working at the back of the delivery truck.  The tough old nomad had been looking after Emersyn since their ordeal with the Raffen. Halo, Emersyn’s husband had been one of the casualties and Code had taken it upon himself to try and help her through the grief. He had been doing the majority of the work converting the ‘borrowed’ delivery truck into a combi. Judging by the sounds of sawing and hammering, he was trying to fit some creature comforts ready to make it more liveable. “Mornin’” He said.

Holliday, good to see you.” Said Code.

I have a mind to go after the rest of the gang that pinched you. Do you remember anything about the vehicles that stands out?

Hmm, that’s a tough one to recall. It was dark when they came up on us. We didn’t see them till it was too late. Kept their lights off to hide their approach.” Said Code.

Do you think maybe they had some sort of IR or night vision of something?” Asked Holliday, intrigued. Perhaps this was something he could look into developing himself.

It’s hard to say. They could see the light of the campfire, so I guess they didn’t need to be able to see as much. Good idea though if they did.” He put his saw down. “They beat us damn near to death. I don’t really remember the trucks that well, but they were big enough to throw a bunch of people in and were obviously capable of driving off road. That’s all I can really remember.

Thanks anyway.” Said Holliday, “You never know what might come up. I’ll be off now, talk to you later.

Walking to his car, Holliday dialled the number for Crew Sanchez. The fixer answered. “Hello, who’s this?

“Holliday. We met a few weeks back. I was picking up some medical supplies for a client.”

You got away alright then?” Said Crew “Those unwanted guests didn’t cause you any trouble?

Nothing I couldn’t handle.” Said Holliday. “Look, I have something I need to ask you about. I’m looking into some medical supplies specific medical supplies. Can I meet you face to face?

You sound like you’re being a bit cautious about this. There’s a bar in Heywood, it’s called Spannerz. It’s an old workers haunt in the industrial district. I’m there now, I’ll keep an eye out for you.

Sanchez
Heywood - Night City
Holliday drove into the Heywood Industrial district. Heywood was the closest area of the city to the Aldecaldo camp, but the drive through the slums of the district was arduous all the same. The twisting tent cities were hard to navigate and often packed with the unfortunate denizens, blocking the roads. Eventually, the nomad passed through the suburbs into the old industrial district. Here the mostly empty factories and warehouses stood in testament to the world before the war. The impact on the manufacturing industry worldwide was laid bare before Holliday as he made his way to the rendezvous. He couldn’t help wondering how long these buildings were going to stay empty.

Spannerz seemed to have been built to serve the workers from that bygone age. Now, it seems strange to have a bar in somewhere so remote and lifeless, but Holliday could imagine the bustling atmosphere as shifts from the factories came and went. There were few inside now however. A small group sat around a table to the left of the door. They looked like a work crew of some kind though Holliday had no interest in what they were doing. A large gruff looking man stood alone at one end of the bar.
 
Crew Sanchez - Fixer
Crew and a woman that Holliday vaguely recognised sat in a booth at the back of the room. He ordered himself a beer and walked over to meet them. The woman was another nomad but from a different nation, known as the Bakkers. Searching his memory he seemed to remember her name was Kaneda.

Crew offered him a seat “Buenos Dios, it’s good to see you still in one piece. So you want to talk about to medical supplies?

The job I took to get those supplies from you was for the Prylor pack. When I got back to the caravan, they’d got pinched by the Raffen Shiv. I had to mount a rescue.

Sanchez looked concerned. ”That’s rough. Did you get them out?

Most of them. They lost a couple, Emersyn’s son was one. The Shiv were taking organs from them for sale. What do you know of black market organ dealing?

Crew looked uneasy “I do not like to deal with the Raffen Shiv if I have a choice but sometimes business is business. You do what you must, to get by.” 

Raffen Shiv - Outlaw Gang
Holliday waited patiently until Crew started talking again. “I don’t have a regular contact so to speak. If they have merchandise to sell, they come to me. There’s a guy called Alyn Lostov, he’s an outrider for them. He makes contact on their behalf. I have a number but he always calls me, I don’t call him. I haven’t heard from him in a while.

You going to give me that number?” Said Holliday.

You’re asking me to set up one of my clients. You realise that can have an impact on my reputation right? Not only that, but they are the fucking Raffen Shiv! I don’t want to put a target on my back you know?” 

For what it’s worth. Those involved ain’t gonna survive. Nobody’s going to miss them neither.

Holliday could see the fixer warring within himself. After a moment, he sighed and took out a scrap of paper. He jotted a number down and handed it over. “You didn’t get this from me.

I didn’t get it from who?” Said Holliday pocketing it. Crew seemed unexpectedly relieved. It was as if giving the number had lifted something of a weight off his shoulders. Holliday threw 10eb on the table. “To your health, have a round on me. I’ll let you know when it’s all clear.” He nodded at Kaneda and walked out into the street.

The P.I.
Holliday dialled the number Spydar had given for his contact in the city. The voice that answered was cultured but aged and slightly gravelly.

Optekar Investigations, how can I help?

I’m looking for someone who’s “In the Wind” and I’ve been told you’re the man to talk to I was thinking, maybe you might have him already on file or something.” Said Holliday.

Cass replied slowly. Holliday could practically feel the man analysing his words. “Well, that’s a possibility but it would be a hell of a coincidence.” He said. “Of course, I won’t know unless you tell me who you’re looking for. I like to look a man in the eye when I enter into a contract. Meet me in Heywood. I’m in the north of the district near the outskirts.

Holliday drove out to the location Optekar had sent him. The district was more or less a ghetto with much of it made up of tent cities. Heywood had became a refugee camp for the people fleeing the fallout of the Arasaka bombing. The meeting point that the PI had specified was in the northern part of the district where the richer population of Heywood lived. It was no less crime ridden than the south but the remnants of the corporate Beaverville elite have created a divide between the rich and the poor. 

Driving up. Holliday had chance to look Optekar over. He was an older man in his mid-50s. He was broad shouldered and tall with greying hair and a short neatly trimmed beard. His clothes looked to be good quality if well-worn, a brown trench coat over trousers and a shirt. He was waiting on a street corner casually smoking a cigarillo.

Cass Optekar - Private Investigator
As the nomad walked over, he looked up. “You the guy on the phone?” Holliday nodded. “What do I call you?

Holliday.

Call me Cass.” He said. “Who are you looking for?

A nomad.” Said Holliday. “I have a business proposition for him but I’m having trouble tracking him down.

Does this gentlemen have a name?” Said Cass.

Alyn Lostov.

He’s not one I recognise from my files.” Said Cass. He sighed “My rates are 50eb a day plus expenses.

There was a family I did some work for. They had an… incident that I think this Lostov might be able to give me some information about. I want to take it to his pack.

Holliday again felt like Cass was analysing him. “Walk with me.” Said the PI. They started walking out towards the outskirts. “What sort of incident?

Lostov is part of a Raffen Shiv pack. They pinched a family. They were harvesting them for organs to sell on the black market.

Masaru Kowasaki - Missing
Cass nodded. “What you’re saying is interesting. I’ve been looking into a missing person myself already. Masaru Kowasaki. She went missing from right here in Heywood on the eastern side of the district. See, I think she was taken by drifters from outside of the city. It could be the Raffen Shiv but I can’t prove it. I don’t think there’s any hope of finding her alive anymore, she’s been missing about two days. The chances of finding a missing person alive after 24 hours plummets considerably.” He gestured around the area. “It happened here. A witness saw someone matching Masaru’s description talking to a man with a motorbike. He was lanky with swarthy skin and dark hair wearing a leather jacket, a bandana around his neck and aviators.

I have a contact number for Lostov.” Said Holliday “I’m thinking, I call him, set up a meeting.

What are you intending to say?” Said Cass.

I only know one way, brash and crass.” Said Holliday. “I’ll get under his skin, make him want to meet me.

Hmm, I can make the call, I can be persuasive.” Said Cass. “What do you want to achieve?

Maybe we can get him to meet me at a bar. Tell him you’ve got a business opportunity and you’re sending someone to meet him.

Holliday read out the number and Cass dialled. The call was short and to the point. “He said he’d meet you at the Slammer in South Night city. I said to go alone and I’d send a lone representative. He agreed, but I don’t trust him in the slightest. I’d bet by reputation he takes some back up.

South Night City is a Combat Zone.” Said Holliday. “Figures, he’d want to meet somewhere like that. I appreciate the help but I’m not going to drag you there.

Cass seemed to be running it over in his head. “Sometimes, you just have to do the right thing.” He said. “I’ll go with you.

The Slammer
'The Slammer' - South Night City Bar
The South Night City district had been an industrial sprawl before the bombing. One of the last oil refineries in the area had been in the zone and the city’s sewage plant had also been here. The district had never been truly safe, with a lot of gang activity and trigger happy locals who shot first and took no chances when boosters were in the area. Now those same gangs had converted the empty warehouses to hideouts and perpetually warred amongst themselves for territory.

In amongst it was the Slammer. Holliday had heard of the gang bar in passing but had never actually been. He parked up outside and took it in. The building was squat, it might have been a storehouse or something in the past. Outside were a number of gangs and the occasional vehicles including a motorcycle near a side alley. He nodded to Cass and led the way in.

They split up as they entered. The door led to a wide room full of jeering gang members. There was a bar serving drinks under faded and flickering light strips. The air was heavy with the press of bodies and the stink of sweat and deep inside, the sound of gunfire. Holliday kept his hand by his handgun as he approached the centre of the room.

'The Slammer' - Illegal Pit Fights
The floor opened to show a wide pit. The Slammer’s reputation as an underground fight club seemed to be literal. The basement had been converted into a circular pit where a group of rival gangers were fighting to the death. The sandy floor was stained with years of bloodshed and the concrete walls bore the scars of countless gunfights. Above, the crowds cheered. Holliday was sure that they were baying for blood and couldn’t care less about the winners.

A man caught his eye. He was tall and slim with dark hair and a bandana much like Cass had described. He was leaning against the barrier by the pit, appearing to take interest in the fight but clearly keeping an eye out for the meeting. “You the guy on the phone?” He said.

The associate.” Said Holliday.

OK, what’s this proposition and what is it going to cost me?” Said Lostov.

I happen to know of a camp. Easy to get to, not well defended.” Said Holliday. “There’s people there. Shouldn’t be hard to take them.

And the cost of this information?

Alyn Lostov - Raffen Shiv Outrider
I don’t want to just be “someone’s associate.” I want to talk to the rest of the gang about making some real scratch.

Lostov laughed. “Oh, I see. Follow me, we’ll talk outside, it’s a little more private.” He started leading the way through the crowds and out towards a doorway. Holliday followed him closely. As they got to the door, two men swung in behind him.

I noticed you got some guys to follow us out. That doesn’t say much about how much you trust me.” Said Holliday.

I don’t like people knowing too much about my business.” Said Lostov. “Boys.

One of the gangers threw a sucker punch at Holliday, but with cat like reflexes he rolled under it and delivered an uppercut that lifter the man off the ground then back handed the second stunning him and leaving him flailing wildly. Lostov rushed in to try and take advantage of the distraction but Holliday bobbed and weaved like a pro boxer evading every strike.

Suddenly Cass crashed through the door and leapt into the fight scuffling with the two boosters. They turned on the new arrival, but foggy with the impact of Holliday’s enhanced strength were barely able to see straight.

Holliday delivered a brutal series of body blows, feeling ribs break and staggering Lostov away. The Raffen outrider sneered and started to run for the end of the alley, wheezing with the pain from his broken ribs. Holliday pursued him and as the outride got onto his motorbike, the nomad flying tackled him to the ground, crushing the air out of him and toppling the bike onto its side. He dragged Lostov to his feet, pressing his pistol against his neck and shouted down the alley. “Hey! Stop or I’ll decorate this alley with his brains!

The gangers stopped fighting with Cass and drew their own guns on him. Lostov started to laugh despite the pain. “Looks like we have a Mexican stand-off.” He said. “How about, you let us go and we forget this ever happened?

I was going to say just that. You tell me where the rest of you’re hiding and you can just disappear.” Said Holliday.

I ain’t telling you shit.” Said Lostov.

Holliday poked Lostov with his gun. “I don’t need you to talk. See, them?” He pointed at the other gangers. “They ain’t looking too peaky either. Once I’m done with you, maybe they’ll talk to save me themselves the same pain.

You’re Aldecaldo? You know you don’t betray the family.” Grunted Lostov.

Well, I ain’t gonna lie, once I’m done, there will be nobody to betray. You talk and you get to be the last survivors.

Fuck you!” Shouted Lostov. Holliday exchanged a glance with Cass. One of the gangers moved to fire at the PIs and Holliday shot him in the head. A fraction of a second later Cass drew with viperish speed and gunned down the last one.

"One Less Boosterganger to Worry About..."
See?” Said Holliday. “You get to be the last survivor. No family left to know you betrayed them. You can ride into the night or leave in a body bag with your honour intact, I don’t mind either way.

Lostov stayed defiantly silent. Holliday signed. “Have it your way.” He dug his fingers into the man’s ribs. “The girl. Did you take her?” He said. Cass showed him the photo of Masaru.

Yes” groaned Lostov.

Where?

There was a camp, it’s gone now, the camps move.

Where is the next one?” Said Cass.

I don’t know, they’re ad-hoc. We set up where they need to.

Where is the rest of the gang?” Said Holliday. Lostov stayed silent again and the nomad punched him hard in the side. “There were no vehicles at the scrapyard, so some of you got away.” He felt Lostov tense.

Fuck you!” He growled. 

Holliday hit him again. “I can keep hitting you, or you can talk.

When he stopped gasping for breath, he spoke. “Seven. There are seven left.” His voice had gone cold. 
Where are they?” Said Holliday.

Kiyoko Quadro - Raffen Shiv Mobile Base
There’s a train. We go where we like, when we like.” Lostov gasped. “It’s called the Kiyoko Quadro.”

“Is there girl still there? Is she alive?” Said Holliday holstering his pistol.

What? No, not by now. She wouldn’t have lasted the night and the body would be burned out in the desert.” Said Lostov.

You get a good price?

We will.” Sneered Lostov.

Holliday rummaged into the man’s pockets and found his agent. “Remember, after all this, dead men don’t have agents.” He made eye contact with Cass again. “I promised you’re free to walk away.” He released Lostov.

The outrider tried to elbow Holliday hard as he was released, diving for the floor and drawing his gun. Holliday stared down the barrel for a split second before Lostov’s head burst. Cass holstered his smoking pistol. “I guess that’s case closed.” He said.

I owe you.” Said Holliday. “Not just for that.” He pointed at the bloody bullet hole in Lostov’s head, “You didn’t need to come to the combat zone with me.

Like I said, sometimes you just need to do the right thing.” Said Cass.

Holliday smiled sadly. “When we go after the train, me and my buddies, if I find anything about Masaru, I’ll bring it back for you. I promise.
 
I appreciate that.” Said Cass.

Between the two of them, they picked Lostov’s toppled bike up and loaded it into the back of Holliday’s truck. Holliday gave the PI a ride back into the city before he travelled back to the Prylor caravan.

Holliday assessed the damage to the bike while Spydar helped to sieve through the data on Lostov’s agent. The Shiv gang appeared to be led by someone called Blythe Seven, though the other name attached was Isaac Wattsmith. At last, Holliday had a solid lead to follow. The bike had taken the impact of the heavy set nomad launching himself at Lostov. The NOS canister had been cracked and there were a few scuffs and dents to hammer out. As the sun began to set, he grabbed his toolkit and started to get to work.


GM's Round-up
This was a really enjoyable session for me as a GM. I had to improvise a lot of it which was good to give me the practice. Holliday’s player used more subterfuge than I was expecting. I think this showed some real character development for Holliday too which I really enjoyed.

Cass Optekar was really fun to create. I don’t have any more plans for him yet but I would love to see more of him. Who knows!

So Holliday benefitted from a motorcycle too. It’s a big reward but he’s going to need to do some work on it to make it roadworthy again. Still, there’s plenty of opportunity for roleplay there too!

Acknowledgement's
I've used pictures of real people to represent some of the characters and art for others so in no particular order 'Holliday' is Wes Chatham, Emersyn Prylor is Linda Hamilton, Link Prylor is Thomas Brodie-Sangster, 'Spyder' is Joe Pantoliano, 'Code' is Sam Elliot, Crew Sanchez is Antonio Banderas, Cass Optekar is Donald Sutherland, Masaru Kowasaki is Yui Aragaki and Alyn Lostov is David Kait.
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