Friday 28 January 2022

Vampire the Masquerade - V5 - Session One Hundred and One - 'Strange Bedfellows' (Part Four)

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.
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. There are however a list of potential triggers listed before the introduction. 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 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 OneTwoThree and Four
Interlude Session - Recon
Story Twenty Four - 'Resistance' - Part OneTwoThreeFour and Five
Interlude Session - Damage Limitation
Interlude Session - The Killing Spree
Story Twenty Five - 'Personal Agendas' - Part OneTwo and Three
Story Twenty Six - 'Strange Bedfellows' - Part OneTwo and Three

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.

Trigger Warnings for This Session: Blood (Obviously), Sexual Assault (Implied).

Michael is currently considering The Circulatory System's offer of assistance in dealing with the threat of the Unbound Ghoul gang known as The Young Bloods. Meanwhile he is also dealing with the potential for war between Priss, Baron of The Border and Hank, Baron of the Crypts Sons. Marius Walker, Baron of Downtown is overtly supporting Priss and so Michael has arranged a preliminary meeting with him to encourage a diplomatic solution.

Scene Seventeen - Diplomacy
Marius's Haven and HQ
Hallowbrook Apartments is even more imposing now that several upper floors have been added, yet is still dwarfed by the hundred stories that make up the nearby Venture Tower

On the journey to Downtown from The Wilds, Mr Hertz had lamented the fact that they had no similar operation to that of The Circulatory System. Both Daniel and Michael's reaction made it obvious that inroads into such a project were unlikely to be authorized.

Building security was clearly expecting them. Despite being mainly residential, Hallowbrook had formidable security precautions that only increased in scope, the closer one got to the top.

As they reached the lowest level that made up Marius's living space, they were met by Victoria and Yukio, Marius's two most trusted and loyal ghouls. it was Victoria, Marius's Personal Assistant, who addressed them.

"Would you like some refreshments before your meeting? I can have some suitable vessels provided if you require?"  The coterie politely declined.

Marius was seated in his main living room watching multiple television channels on a multi-screen set-up that filled one wall. As the coterie entered, he muted them all with the press of a single button.

Victoria Anne - Ancient Ghoul
Marius's Personal Assistant
"So Michael. What's on your mind?"

Both Vin and Daniel picked up the hard edge to Marius's tone. Vin immediately moved closer to his Baron, while Daniel began to look around for additional threats while simultaneously planning the best route to the exit. The only immediate threats were Yukio and Victoria, who despite being merely ghouls, were ancient ones. They were more than capable of being a threat to kindred opponent, fuelled as they were by Marius's potent Vitae. Mr Hertz seemed oblivious and made himself comfortable on one of the spare sofa's.

Michael's empathy was highly honed and he too detected that the Gangrel Baron was in a confrontational mood. Though most sensible kindred would have erred on the side of caution, Michael decided to take advantage of Marius's desire for surprises that relieved the boredom. So he went on the offensive.

"Hank owes me several considerable boons..." he began. "...and I would expect any kindred responsible for his destruction to honour those boons as per the established rules of Prestation. As the Crypts Sons Baron has no sire to take them on, the debt must be taken on by Priss, should she be the guilty party, or whoever facilitated the event, should Priss have insufficient personal resources to honour them."

Michael saw the anger rise, then fade, before being replaced by curiosity.

Storytellers Note - This was a super risky strategy, but I decided it fit the research Michael's player had made, so I let it play out.

Yukio Hayashi - Ancient Ghoul
Marius's Personal Bodyguard
"One presumes you have an alternate solution?" queried Marius as he indicated to Michael that he should take a seat. 

Yukio moved her hand from the hilt of her sword. Across the room, Vin's hand slid off the handle of his own machete. Both exchanged a look as they did so.

All the other observers on both sides visibly relaxed as the tensions in the room faded slightly.

Michael continued. "Priss is not subtle and has enemies of her own. Should she be able to keep control of her own domain and expand into Hank's, she would inherit Hank's enemies who also seek his domain. Not to mention that she would add any allies of Hanks to this rapidly expanding list of enemies."

"We are also both intelligent enough to realise that it is your support that has emboldened Priss. You could also keep her in check with equal ease."

Marius seemed to be considering his reply. Michael could clearly see that the idea of open warfare appealed to him, but that the negative ramifications of that decision also needed to be considered.

"Hank's kindred were warned about the consequences of entering Priss's domain, and ignored them. One does not maintain the respect of an undisciplined rabble of Brujah thugs by allowing them to do as they please. If Hank can't control his forces sufficiently for them to respect my...I mean Priss's border, then I'll destroy any who test my word."

Priss - Lasombra
Baron of 'The Border'
Michael could see clearly that this was less about defending a border and more about Marius's ego. The Crypts Sons had shown no fear of his warning and so he had destroyed them to prove that there was good reason to be afraid. The fact that this had benefitted Priss was largely irrelevant.

The Baron of the North East, briefly considered the consequences of putting Marius and Hank in a room together. Both had reputations to protect and would be likely to posture if their own followers were in earshot.

"Would you consider a meeting on neutral ground with just the two of you? No advisors, no guards, just yourself and Hank. I would act as a facilitator and provide security myself, but you would each be the only representative of your baronies. If the result of this meeting effects Priss then we'll inform her subsequently."

"Why the fuck not." replied Marius. Michael presumed the statement was rhetorical.

As Michael stood to leave, Daniel interjected. "If you don't mind Michael, can I have ten minutes with Marius?"

Victoria offered to show the rest of the coterie up to the garden while they waited. A refusal seemed impolite.

Scene Eighteen - Private Investigations
Karen Anatos - Gangrel
Baron of Burbank, Anathema
"I had an interesting meeting with Karen Anatos, Baron of Burbank." Stated Daniel. Marius's grin indicated to him that 'The Fixer' was well aware of his predicament.

"It seems that my investigative skills were recommended to her. She wished me to investigate the destruction of her favourite ghoul. The slight problem is..."

"It was you who killed them." interrupted Marius with a smile.

"Well...yes..." replied Daniel. "I decided to take a traditional approach and inform her of my progress by letter. I thought you might like to have a look at it first."

Marius carefully removed the letter from the envelope handed to him and began to read.

Storytellers Note - The following is verbatim what the player decided he wanted to put in his 'note' to Karen Anatos. It's really satisfying for a storyteller when a player gets invested enough in the story to put this much effort in. For context, the event he's investigating can be read about HERE.


Dear Miss Anatos,

Firstly I would like to apologise for taking so long address your case. As you may be aware, I was required to provide security oversight for the recent peace summit in the city. 

Upon review of the available evidence I have made some headway in the case regarding the late Mr Metcalfe. 

Edmund Metcalfe - Ghoul
Rapist, Torturer and Murderer
The official report asserts that Mr Metcalfe was responsible for a number of murders and the unlawful imprisonment and torture of at least one other victim. Upon the discovery that this victim had been located and rescued, Mr Metcalfe took his own life by first slashing his wrist and then by cutting his own throat to hasten exsanguination. 

On first glance at the report this appears accurate as I believe it was intended. However it is my personal opinion that suicide would be out of character for Mr Metcalfe based on further knowledge. 

Clearly Mr Metcalfe was a meticulous and cautious planner. He carried out a number of murders which were carefully and competently disguised or covered up and the prisoner he was working on hadn't been discovered by mortal law enforcement up to that point. I believe that Mr Metcalfe would have planned for the eventuality he might be discovered. In addition he had a powerful sponsor he could call on for assistance. 

Due to these details I concur with you that Mr Metcalfe was stalked and murdered. 

It appears that Mr Metcalfe was killed with a sharp implement, possibly a knife though we are all aware of the more supernatural possibilities. Mr Metcalfe's right hand was almost severed suggesting a considerable force used to deliver the blow. This confirms my suspicious that his killer was most likely kindred in nature. 

Piecing together Mr Metcalfe's movements in the final weeks of his life, it is clear in retrospect that he was working to undermine the industry of the late Victor Girard. This is a significant detail that opens up a wide variety of possibilities relating to his eventual demise. 

Victor Girard - Toreador
Destroyed former Seneschal
It is speculated that Girard's attempt to wrest control of El Hermandad was related to the recent Camarilla incursion into the city. Girard's seeming neutrality hid a degree of pragmatism and I believe that his intention was to build a powerbase in El Hermandad in order to assist the Camarilla in return for power once the Ivory Tower had secured the city. 

This suggests that Girard had access to resources and support from San Francisco. Were Mr Metcalfe to be discovered in his operations within Girard's media empire, then efforts would surely be made to remove him as an obstacle. An ideal agent from the Camarilla would need to be discreet and physically capable to carry out the assassination. 

Though the so-called City Gangrel fall into this category there are few outside of the antitrubu. Similarly, the Children of Haqim are very capable but historically have been unwelcome within the Camarilla. There is additionally the possibility of paid contact work for either of these theoretical assailants. 

However, it is my belief that the more likely the agent was one of the Nosferatu. They are consummate information gatherers with an innate skill in investigation, excellent powers of stealth both natural and supernatural and dominion over feral spies. Discovering Mr Metcalfe's movements and tracking him would be well within a Nosferatu's skill set. They are also known for their great strength and potence which would explain the near dismemberment. 

I suspect that Mr Metcalfe's actions within Girard's media company aroused suspicion and he was investigated as a result. His murder however, I believe to have been a target of opportunity when his killer was discovered at the lock up. 

A Mysterious Assassin
'That Daniel Just Made up...'
If indeed the killing was carried out on the orders of the Camarilla, then it is almost certain that the operation was managed by one of the Ventrue, possibly one already identified as one of the invaders or perhaps one of the more subtle strategists still in San Francisco. To determine the veracity of this theory I will need to find more information regarding partnership between Girard and San Francisco. 

Of course there are other possibilities but ultimately I believe them to be less likely. 

Firstly Mr Metcalfe's death came at the same time as a number of other critical blows against Girard's resources. As a rule, I do not believe in coincidence but if multiple Anarch operations were underway to destabilised Girard then it is entirely possible that they overlapped and the killer was simply unaware of Mr Metcalfe's connection to you.  A second more vague line of thought is that Mr Metcalfe had rivals or other enemies. I can investigate whether any of his victims had connections to other kindred in the city. 

As you can see I've made some preliminary steps into the investigation. Once I have established further facts I will deliver a more thorough report. You have my assurance that I will be putting my every skill into following the investigation to is proper conclusion.

Yours Sincerely,

Dr Daniel Matthews.


"Nicely put." said Marius, handing back the missive. "I'll advise Miss Anatos to be patient as I'm partly responsible for your predicament." Daniel raised an eyebrow at the word 'partly' as he was almost certain that Marius had recommended him to the Baron of Burbank knowing full well that he'd killed her ghoul. 

Tabatha Meyer - Brujah
'The Covina Brujah'
"Thank-you." replied Daniel somewhat insincerely. While he had Marius's attention he asked another question.

"What do you know about Tabatha Meyer?"

"Tabatha? She was the defacto leader of the kindred of Covina back when it was a Barony. Clever, Resourceful, uses humour to defuse situations, cracks heads if that doesn't work. She currently acts as a buffer between my grandechilde Myranda's Wilds Pack and the other Barons. Miss Meyer is well respected amongst the Brujah whereas Myranda and her Pack tend to make visitors, well, nervous, so they needed an ambassador. Tabatha's gang are based in the Covina Shopping Mall I believe."

"Why do you ask?"

Daniel decided to keep the fact that she had passed a note to Vin to himself, and kept his reply vague. "She and Vin seemed to be quite friendly. I just wondered if they had any mutual acquaintances because as far as I know they hadn't met before?"

"Not that I know of..." replied Marius. "....though she has a number of business side-lines. Scrap yards, second hand car dealerships, dumpster rentals and the like so perhaps it's a business connection. Vin has also been investigating his missing 'sister' Georgiana Landry, another childe of his sire, and has been offering generous terms should any of the cities Brujah supply information that leads to her discovery. I suppose therefore, that she could be aware of him based on that?"

Georgiana Landry - Brujah
Childe of Desdemona Moore
Daniel thought that Marius had finished, but instead he revealed something of which Daniel wasn't aware.

"Georgiana was to the Sabbat, what Vin is to the Anarchs. Vin's mission was to infiltrate the Anarchs of Los Angeles, Georgiana's was the somewhat more general task of finding out why so many Sabbat had abandoned their domains. The best way to do that, of course, was to join a Sabbat pack..."

This made sense.

Daniel knew that Vin's defection to the Anarchs was staged so he could assist Michael with his mission to destabilise the Anarch Free States. He mentally rebuked himself that it had never occurred to him that Georgiana's defection to the Sabbat was also a ruse.

"How do you know that?" asked Daniel, not really expecting an honest reply.

"Because, as you know, my own grandechilde Meredith, infiltrated the Sabbat too. Desdemona did me the courtesy of letting me know of her own 'project' so we didn't get in each others way. Or more correctly, she warned me that if my attempt fucked up hers, she'd be very unhappy about it..."

The idea of someone threatening Marius and apparently getting away with it caught Daniel a little off guard. Though within L.A. Marius seemed to have his claws into pretty much everything, Daniel was quickly learning that there were much more dangerous kindred in the world than 'The Fixer'.

"What do I owe you for the information?" asked Daniel.

"You don't have anything I need." replied Marius before standing up to indicate that their meeting was over. After thanking Marius for his time, Daniel headed to the garden to find the rest of the coterie.

As Daniel arrived, Michael was just sliding his phone back into his jacket. "Hank's agreed to attend the meeting alone as long as it's us hosting, not Marius." he stated, matter of factly before laying out his basic requirements. "Mr Hertz. You find us a location. Vin, Daniel, you contact Hope and sort me out the best security you can arrange on such short notice."

"Short notice?" asked Daniel, who had apparently missed something while he was speaking with Marius.

"The meeting is tomorrow night." was Michael's reply.

Scene Nineteen - Short Notice
Henrique 'Hank' Boyd - Brujah
Baron of the Crypts Sons
Michael has successfully arranged for Hank and Marius to meet to discuss their differences in regard to the border disputes between themselves and Priss's barony known as 'The Border'. As some of their issues are centred around Hank's choices for the embrace and the fact that Marius has killed three of them, it has been decided to ignore the normal free states protocol for meetings.

Usually participants in such meetings have an advisor, one or more bodyguards and some of their own personnel nearby for security. However on this occasion the meeting is to include Hank and Marius alone, with security and arbitration provided by Michael Tomassio, Baron of the North East and elected arbiter of the recently established Anarch Council. The hope is that this will assist in avoiding any impulsive actions by their followers which might disrupt the meeting.

This meeting cannot come too soon as Hank has been observed reinforcing the Crypts Sons various primary bases of operation and increasing patrols near Priss's domain. Marius has also had meetings with all the Gangrel packs within the city with which he has influence and it is certain is well on his way to preparing an appropriate reaction (or overreaction) to any further movement against either himself or his protectorates.

This particular matter has somewhat eclipsed the coteries plans to eliminate the threat of the unbound ghoul gang 'The Young Bloods' with the assistance of the Circulatory System. Though this is something that needs to be implemented quickly, a potential war engulfing the entire centre of Los Angeles is now more pressing.

'The Young Bloods' - Unbound Ghoul Biker Gang

Mr Hertz has suggested having the meeting somewhere not associated with the coteries legitimate businesses and also out of the way in case of any 'difficulties'...

In this regard, Mr Hertz has arranged for a warehouse used for what he describes as "Various legitimate storage requirements." to be absent of night watchmen and employees for the appropriate evening. It has an adequate office within and he has been assured by his operatives that it has excellent views of any approaches to the area. It is also in an area with very little foot traffic so should be suitably discrete. As security is, in his own words, "Outside of my area of expertise..." Mr Hertz has left this aspect in the hands of the more combatively minded coterie members.

Priya Haynes and 'Hogg' - Gangrel Sweepers for the North-East Baronies

Hope had moved two of her Sweepers, Priya and Hogg, onto the border between The Crypts Sons domain and Priss's at Michael's request. He hoped that the presence of his own people would dissuade any attacks across the border during their meeting. The opposing factions may be antagonistic towards one another, but it was the Barons hope that neither side would be keen on attacking the kindred of the North-East who had good relations with both.

Vins 'Herd'
His Brothels Sex Workers
Vin had provided vessels from his own herds to ensure that they were all well fed. If anything went wrong then at least, hunger wouldn't be a factor. In addition he'd flooded the surrounding areas and approaches with the many street people he employed as spies.

Daniel meanwhile had calculated the optimal escape routes from the meetings location. Should he need to evacuate any of the meetings participants he had made sure that he had different routes for each, and secondary and tertiary back-ups should any of those become compromised.

He also planned to provide escorts through their barony to the meetings location. Vin would escort Hank and he would escort Marius.

"Barons Walker and Boyd are at the border." stated Hertz

"We're as ready as we'll ever be. Let's get on with this." said Michael.

Scene Twenty - The Enemy of My Enemy?
Hank arrives in a black escalade which he has driven himself.

Marius arrives a few minutes later in an Audi RS7 which you've never seen him in before. Presumably it has been borrowed from one of his operatives for the evening, it is light grey and he parks it quite badly. Evidently driving is one area where he doesn't excel. Hank's transport is obviously armoured, Marius's undoubtedly is too though if it is then it has been done more subtly.

Both are wearing expensive suits, though Marius is also carrying a document bag with him. Hank is armed with a handgun in a shoulder holster, Marius doesn't appear to be armed at all. Neither acknowledges the other.

Vin positioned himself to guard the door, while Hope had stationed herself on the roof. This left Daniel free to patrol the area and investigate anything that might seem suspicious.

The warehouse sourced by Mr Hertz had a moderately sized office on one of the upper floors. Michael hadn't bothered to acquire a new table for it, though had insisted that some comfortable seating be provided. Hertz had obliged his Barons simple request.

Marius Walker - Gangrel
Baron of Downtown
Marius hooked his bag over the chairs back and loosened his jacket. If he was armed then it wasn't obvious. Michael then began his opening gambit.

"Gentlemen, thankyou for attending this meeting. I have took it upon myself to make these arrangements for what I believe is the benefit of us all. Decisive action was needed in order to avoid a costly border dispute between you both. Though the disputed territory belongs to Priss, we here are all intelligent enough to realise that it will be you two who need to come to terms if a peaceful outcome is to be achieved."

"With the Camarilla still a threat and the looming issue of both the Sabbat and roving gangs of kindred hunting ghouls, it is more imperative than ever that the Free States avoids weakening itself."

It was Hank that spoke first.

"Priss has tested my patience on a number of occasions and continues to do so. Many of the criminal enterprises within the border were Crypts Sons endeavours before I granted her that domain yet she now acts like they begin and end with her. My representatives requests for a meeting have been continuously refused..."

Michael wasn't sure of the exact terms of Hank's deal with Priss but had his doubts that she would have agreed to only partial control of a domain that she had been granted. He kept this to himself as pointing it out wouldn't have helped the situation. He also kept to himself his opinion that suggesting that an underling of yours meet with a neighbouring Baron instead of yourself showed a distinct lack of due respect. Psychotic Priss might be, but she was still Baron of a domain.

Marius's reply was fairly predictable. Michael was expecting him to defend Priss's position as he needed to justify his support of her. 

"Priss has done everything you asked of her and in return you have given her suicidal tasks to complete, which she managed to survive, it's hardly surprising that she doesn't want to meet you if she can avoid it. She probably expects you to be giving her another exciting opportunity for Final Death..."

Hanks irritation was obvious as he made his own assessment of this excuse. "If she had issues with the tasks I gave her then she should have come to me, not you..."

Hank was given no chance to continue as Marius cut him off with his own counterargument "Well she didn't and I can hardly blame her for that. The fact that the first Crypts Sons response was a full frontal assault on myself, rather than a conversation tells me all I need to know about the quality of your recruitment choices..." Michael sighed inwardly. Neither Baron seemed to have any inclination to compromise and the insults had already started. The Toreador Baron decided upon a change of strategy.

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

"Not being present at either event I am in no position to issue blame, however it is clear that there are issues on both sides. However, the simple fact is that Hank needs to be given a chance to rebuild in order to act as a balance against an El Hermandad that is increasing in power. It is no secret that Gloria Martinez and Allison Maller are effectively running their domains as a single Barony with two leaders."

Amara Martins - Duskborn
Elected Leader of 'The Liberated'
"They also have access to a considerable force of Duskborn and Caitiff who owe them their loyalty. The leader of  the duskborn who call themselves The Liberated, Amara Martins, has shown herself to be a more than capable individual. Between the three areas they hold more territory than any other individual Baron in L.A."

Talk of El Hermandad's strength clearly worried Hank. Marius gave the impression that he couldn't care less though Michael doubted that this was actually the case. He continued.

"The pressure needs to be taken off Hank so the situation can be handled with calmer heads..."

Marius interrupted. "Hank was under no pressure when three of his gang decided to ignore my quite reasonable request for them to stay on their own side of a well established border."

He then turned to speak to Hank directly.

"If you intend to create progeny without carefully selecting the candidates, then it's inevitable that some will transition poorly. Clan Brujah are, by inclination rebellious and prone to frenzy, making their training in the ways of our kind fairly critical. At the very least they should be told whom it is unwise to threaten..."

'Files on The Crypts Sons'
Marius chose this time to remove a folder from his bag and slid it over the table to a spot between Michael and Hank. It contained several files on gang members who Marius has apparently identified as new Kindred members of The Crypts Sons.

"Just a suggestion...but have you considered selecting based on intelligence and leadership skills rather than length of criminal record?"

Hank smiled grimly. It was clear to Michael that the Crypts Sons Baron saw some merit in what Marius was suggesting, but at the same time resented the fact that Marius was investigating his gang at all.

A brief look at the files led Michael to the conclusion that Marius had a point.

Further debate was delayed by a new issue.

Scene Twenty One - Hostile Takeover
Marius's phone beeped and he removed it from his pocket to check the message. He then slid the phone over to Hank so he could see the message that he has received.

"So Hank...should I be concerned that there are kindred led gangs of Crypts Sons amassing near the Border and other groups skirting my territory and heading in this direction? Because a less reasonable person than myself might consider such an act to be a declaration of war during what I was informed was a summit to discuss avoiding exactly that?"

'Max' - Gangrel
Sweeper for the North-East
It was clear to Michael that Hank was genuinely surprised at the news, Marius was surprisingly calm considering Michael could detect a hardening of his expression which could hardly be considered a positive sign.

Meanwhile, Daniel's own phone had rang It was one of Hope's Gangrel sweepers, 'Max'. The news was not good.

"We have a situation. I've got three lots of vehicles entering Pasadena heading your way, loaded with Sabbat Shovelheads and...Crypts Sons. I can slow them down, but not stop them and that slow-down will more than likely result in my destruction. I'd rather not...but I'll try if that's your command..."
Max seemed sincere, but Daniel had his doubts that her sacrifice would make much difference.

He decided that Michael needed to know and therefore interrupted the summit to inform him. All three Barons in the room leapt to the same conclusion but it was Marius who spoke.

"I think, Baron Boyd that you are about to experience a hostile takeover. I suggest a temporary truce while we eliminate the immediate threat to ourselves and resume our negotiations should we all survive?" Hank nodded his agreement and drew his gun. Marius looked at the weapon for a moment. "I suggest you let Michael have that, I doubt he came here armed and it'll be far more use to him than to you..." Hank then offered Michael the gun. It was a chromed Desert Eagle .50 Action Express with an extended barrel. While Michael was contemplating the weapon, Marius rang someone and without preamble began talking.

"I want the three packs I had on standby to the South to move to Priss's border. Any Crypts Son, kindred or kine who crosses into her domain I want destroyed on sight. Pursue only to ensure that any survivors keep going. I don't want anyone going more than a few blocks into Crypts Sons turf without my express permission. Make sure that 'the Circle' understood that last directive isn't optional...

Daniel presumed that Marius was speaking to either Victoria or Yukio. 'The Circle' were three Gangrel Sweepers who generally worked as a pack and were skilled at their jobs, but lacked subtlety.

He then turned to Michael. "The Sons and the Sabbat will be here long before any of mine can intercept, given our location but either way I need your permission for them to enter Pasadena? No preamble this time please. Yes or No?"

"Given the circumstances..." replied Michael. "...I'll take all the help I can get..."

Leo Frost - Brujah
Lieutenant of Gloria Martinez
Hank then speaks. "None of my people are answering my calls, and none of the new crews are responding either. Marius may be correct about that hostile takeover..."

Vin began to call his own security forces as well as call in a few other favours. Daniel got in touch with his friend Leo, a lieutenant of Gloria Martinez and gave him a brief rundown of the problem. Michael made contact with Isaac Abrams, Baron of Hollywood and appraised him of the problem and also asked him to let Baron Fortier know what was going on.

"Even if the other Barons are inclined to help." observed Vin. "We're still going to be on our own for quite a while. I suggest we start barricading doors and windows with anything we can find that might slow down an intruder...or a bullet..."

"...and remove anything flammable..." added Daniel before handing everyone a comms set. He had bought them as a precaution and was glad now that he had done so.

He then rethought his plan for anything flammable that they could find. "On second thoughts, move anything flammable, explosive or otherwise dangerous and pile it outside, right in the path that any attackers will need to take..."

Michael then phoned his ghoul Lisa who ran his studio, The Galerie Sanguine, on his behalf. "Close up early, make up any excuses to the customers that you like, and send the staff home. You and Heather head to one of the safe rooms and wait for me to call again. I don't have time for explanations, just do as I ask. I also need you to contact the security people who keep an eye on Shauna for me and make sure they are adequately prepared should they receive any 'special' guests..."

Very few people in Los Angeles knew of his connection to the aspiring actress Shauna Jones, but he was taking no chances with her becoming a target.

Shauna Jones - Mortal
Michael Tomassio's Touchstone
Storytellers Note - Shauna is one of Michael's touchstones.

There was a grinding sound from outside as Vin pushed a large dumpster into place as a makeshift barrier near the warehouse entrance and readied his shotgun.

"Before we begin Hank, I need you to answer a question for me." said Marius, his tone all business. "Were you aware that Mohammed al-Muthlim, founder of The Crypts Sons, was Sabbat?"

As Hank's surprised expression matched that of the coterie, Michael concluded that this was as much a surprise to Hank as it was to them. Seemingly content that the Crypts Sons current leader had considerably different allegiances to it's original founder, Marius relaxed slightly.

Something then occurred to Michael. "You don't have any childer, do you Hank?

Hank confirmed that this was the case. "Kayne Lowe, my best lieutenant suggested that it would create resentment amongst the other Crypts Sons kindred if I had my own childer in positions of leadership. He put forward a very powerful argument to that effect."

Something then occurred to Daniel. "Was Kayne originally one of Mohammed al-Muthlim's men?" Hank's eyes narrowed as the realisation hit him. "He was the only one of al-Muthlim's inner circle to survive the purge by the Eastern Kindred. He handled recruitment for us too..." Hank then put his fist through the closest wall. "I'll kill that traitorous fucking bastard myself..."

Hope's voice across the comms interrupted any further conjecture. Her sing-song tone wasn't really in keeping with the information she had to share.

"They're here..."

Scene Twenty Two - The First Wave
'Concentrated Gunfire'
As the first truck arrived, Vin emptied a drum of solid slugs into it killing the driver, passenger and destroying it's engine. This forced the other vehicles to drive around the wreckage, slowing them down and severely blunting the element of surprise their enemies had apparently been counting on. Frustrated at the delay, several vehicles began to unload their passengers early, greatly adding to the confusion that Vin's tactic had caused.

The first wave of attackers consisted of recently embraced shovelheads and mortal Crypts Sons, probably freshly ghouled. There were too many to easily count but the attack had no discipline or order. What was certain was that they were heading directly towards the warehouse.

Vin climbed atop his improvised barrier and emptied another drum of shotgun shells into the advancing horde. Daniel also emptied his weapon into the crowd. His Browning Hi-Power had been modified to fire on fully automatic and it's extended magazine gave it a significant ammunition capacity. Against such a dense crowd, the damage from both weapons was considerable. Unfortunately it did little to slow the enemy advance.

Michael made a conscious effort to channel his supernatural presence in such a way as to cause paralysing fear in any who attacked him. Hopefully it would also keep some of the weaker willed enemies away from them all.

Hank had found a heavy iron bar to use as an improvised weapon and moved towards the entrance to the warehouse. If he was to face destruction he intended to do it face to face with his enemies, not hiding while others fought for him. He emerged just in time to see Hope leap from the roof directly into the hordes path and tear apart three unfortunates. She then grabbed a fourth and began to feed, using their rapidly draining body as a shield.

Protean - Mist Form
As Michael turned to see Marius's response he observed him apparently walking towards a solid wall, before his form dissolved into mist and flowed through the cracks. He watched through the gaps in the hastily boarded-up windows as Marius reformed outside and moved towards some stragglers who were attempting to flank the building.

As Hope tore into the crowd, Daniel was picking off enemies around her. "Tell them we're not receiving visitors today..." he yelled out of the window. Despite the situation, she smiled. Daniel had been in a dark mood for months and it reassured her that he was still capable of making wisecracks. Even if that particular one wasn't one of his best attempts, it was a positive sign.

Daniel stopped firing for a moment to assess the situation. He could see more competent kindred in Crypts Sons colours attempting to bring some order to the assault while others, probably Sabbat, ushered forth a second wave of cannon-fodder. Though they had blunted the initial assault, it was clear that their attackers had bought plenty of cannon-fodder along with them. Vin's improvised delaying tactic had bought them some time, but it was clear that the next attack would be far more organised.

'Three threats eliminated'
Vin, Hank and Marius had prevented any of the hurried initial assaulters from reaching the building, but had to move back into cover as the newly organised enemy began to return fire with weapons of their own. As Hope returned to the roof top with a single leap, she surveyed the scene of carnage.

Inside, Michael looked at the bodies of the three ghouls who had made it through the onslaught. They had dropped to their knees in awe as they entered the door and found Michael waiting there. Daniel had killed all three before returning to his post. Only the last one had put up any resistance, the others were still in a state of confusion as their throats had been slit. Despite facilitating their deaths, Michael justified it to himself as a clear act of self defence. Besides which, he hadn't actually killed any of them, so realistically had done nothing wrong. It was mental justifications such as this which kept Michael sane, yet still a hint of guilt sometimes crept in.

"Do you think they want to borrow a white flag?" quipped Daniel over the comms. No-one laughed.

Scene Twenty Three - Wave Two
Daniel had switched to his rifle and changed his priority to taking out the enemies leaders. 

Dr Daniel Matthews - Banu Haqim
'Carefully selecting his targets'
A kindred who was gathering others to himself and shouting orders was his first target. The bullet went through their eyeball and exited through the back of their skull taking most of their head with it. "That's one..." he whispered to himself, before looking for a new victim. He was then forced to duck back as fully automatic gunfire raked his position. "Time to move..." he thought.

"They're preparing another charge..." warned Hope. "...and this one has fire support."

"How about we take the battle to them?" said Vin to Hank. "Why not?" was the reply as they covered the thirty metres from their position to the massing enemies in a mere blink and attacked immediately. Unconcerned with the expendable shock-troops, The assaults leaders directed fire into their own ranks, their only priority being the destruction of their targets. Both Brujah took minor wounds but these were trivial compared to the carnage they caused in return. Nonetheless, the danger of being overwhelmed was ever-present.

Daniel had taken out two more priority targets but had been forced to move position after each one as opposing guns were bought to bear after each kill. 

Hank's Desert Eagle
Michael had joined him and was taking pot-shots with Hank's Desert Eagle. In such a target rich environment it was difficult to fail to hit something.

Not wanting to miss out on the 'fun', Hope once more engaged the charging mob to assist the Brujah Baron and her fellow coterie member, Vin. Before she could join them she was intercepted by a pair of ghouls that had been pushed into her path by their kindred masters. She made short work of the living enemies, before closing in on the undead at their rear.

From his most recent vantage point, Daniel and Michael could see that Marius was fighting in, what was for him, an unusually precise manner. Though a skilled fighter his usual technique was to tear through anything in his way, gorge himself on enough of his victims blood and vitae to restore himself and then repeat until there was nothing left to kill. It was a technique that Hope herself employed though whether she had learned this from him or discovered it independently, neither Michael nor Daniel knew.

Marius Walker - Gangrel
'In a killing mood'
Daniel also noted that their enemies had formed a defensive perimeter with several of their larger trucks and concluded that this was where the attacks leaders would be. Marius seemed to have made a similar conclusion and was murdering his way in that direction too.

Though the mob's attention was upon the Vin, Hank and Hope, there were enough unoccupied enemies to allow them to focus on other targets too and it was becoming increasingly difficult for Daniel to make his shots. The fact that he had now accounted for four high priority targets had drawn a lot of attention to the locations from which he had already fired.

He handed his rifle to Michael. "Keep hold of this just in case. I need to do some recon. If I can find the ringleaders and assassinate them the rest might fuck off, if not, I need to find us a way out of here."

Daniel slipped out via a broken window and climbed down the outer wall with remarkable dexterity. As several rounds ricocheted from the concrete around him he dropped to the ground and then covered the distance to the wall of vehicles in a fraction of a second. An unfortunate enemy who had lagged behind, rounded the corner and almost walked straight into Daniel, who promptly tore their throat out with his teeth. 

Daniel Matthews - Banu Haqim
'The Beast quietened'
As their life ebbed away, he could feel the Beast within grow quieter, then become silent. Only the death of a mortal victim would bring a kindred peace, though the cost was invariably a piece of themselves. Daniel lamented that he had little humanity left to spare. Just then the roar of a motorbike engine shook him from his lamentations.

Max must have pushed the bike to it's limit to get here from the North East in such a short timeframe. She leapt from the bike with remarkable dexterity, rolled to her feet and entered the fray. Her rider less bike careered into the crowd, killing several and maiming others. As enemy attention turned from Daniel for a moment he used the opportunity to step into the shadows and fade from sight.

As he did so, he heard another engine fire up. This noise came from one of the trucks as it picked up speed and drove directly at Marius. Deciding that 'The Fixer' could look after himself, Daniel moved stealthily in the direction of what he hoped would be the location of the leaders of the assault.

Scene Twenty Four - In the Balance
The leaders in the rear had restored some measure of control after the opening few minutes of chaos.

'Enemy Suppressing Fire'
Those armed with ranged weapons were using their vehicles as cover and were using suppressive fire tactics to prevent Michael from as much as sticking his head out of the building, let alone aim with any degree of accuracy.

The horde of blood-bound, ghouled and mass embraced Crypts Sons and other Shovelheads were being directed on masse towards the coterie members and Hank. They were actively attempting to split Vin, Hank and Hope apart so as to overwhelm them individually and prevent them from supporting one another. 

Those sent against Marius seemed to universally be kindred, rather than mortals, though this seemed to make little difference. Bullets flattened against his supernaturally resilient flesh and each of his blows was delivered with preternatural force. Daniel watched as a heavy truck mowed down it's own people in an attempt to use it's weight and momentum as a weapon against the Baron of Downtown.

Obfuscate - Cloak of Shadows/Unseen Passage
Unable to assist without revealing himself, Daniel continued with his mission. He slipped between enemies unaware of his presence and made his way through the shadows to the rear of the enemies lines.

Hope and Vin had sustained some minor wounds while defending Hank. Though Hope was more resilient, Vin's sheer size enabled him to absorb considerable damage. Of course there were limits to both.

A lone Sabbat had somehow made his way through the chaos and into the warehouse. In the grip of frenzy he was largely immune to Michael's supernatural presence. Fortunately he had no defence against the pair of .50 calibre handgun rounds that Michael put through his chest, nor the third shot through their forehead.

At the last possible moment, Marius stepped aside and ripped the side door off the truck, and entered the cabin.

'The drivers explosive demise...'
Blood, bone and brain matter splattered across the windscreen as the vehicle came to a standstill. The side doors opened and a single figure attempted to retreat back to the safety of their lines. Marius crossed the distance at speed and hurled them into the back of the truck.

Flesh split and bones cracked as the slightly built red-headed girls momentum made a human sized dent, before then slumping to the ground. Before he could celebrate his victory a dozen weapons targeted him simultaneously and forced him to take cover.

Though less in number, the final wave of enemies were evidently their best. Hope and Vin were now riddled with bullet wounds, cuts and other less identifiable wounds. Needing their vitae to fuel their disciplines they had none to spare to heal their own wounds. Defended by his allies, Hank had gotten off far more lightly but even he was having doubts about their chances of survival. 

'Various abandoned Crypts Sons weapons'
Vin yelled at him to fall back to the warehouse but he refused, instead grabbing an SMG from a fallen Crypts Son and emptying it into an approaching figure. Whether it was human, ghoul or something else, Hank couldn't tell, regardless it fell to the ground and stayed there.

Vin shouted once more, though this time his command was enhanced by his own supernatural powers and a natural talent for intimidation. In spite of himself, Hank obeyed as Vin disappeared under a pile of blood crazed enemies.

Hope used the last of her bodies reserves to heal what wounds she could then rode the wave as she let the frenzy overtake her. Lost in a cycle of killing, feeding, and looking for new prey she ploughed into the largest remaining group of foes as the Beast overcame her.

Scene Twenty Five - Oblivion
Oblivion - Arms of Ahriman
As Daniel slipped through the shadows he inexplicably began to feel as if he was being watched, despite being both silent and invisible to the senses. Then the shadows around him seemed to become denser and take shapes unrelated to the objects that cast them.

As they formed into grasping tentacles, Daniel was forced to back away into the illumination cast by several of the parked vehicles. Not sure what to do, he drew his suppressed pistols and fired into the shadows.

Max, One of Hope's 'Sweepers', had also retreated back into the building to protect Michael. She also now found herself having to guard the increasingly frustrated Hank. With the rest of the coterie now occupied, more and more Sabbat and Crypts Sons were making their way into the warehouse. Michael's supernatural majesty caused most to pause in either admiration or fear, though when threatened their desire for self preservation snapped some out of their state of fugue.

An Improvised Weapon
The weapons salvaged by Hank during his strategic withdrawal were now empty of ammunition and he had defaulted back to a combination of his fists and a now bloodstained baseball bat. It was pierced with rusty nails and he had liberated it from a mortal traitor from his own gang. Michael's borrowed gun was also now empty.

Max on the other hand, used her claws and fangs. Michael noted that Max was a formidable hand to hand combatant, though lacked anything resembling style or technique. She seemed to him to be an instinctual fighter, self taught and naturally talented but no less deadly because of her seeming lack of formal training. He presumed that these were common traits amongst Gangrel who survived their first few nights, given the tendency of that clan to abandon their childer to their own devices after the embrace.

Oblivion - Tenebrous Avatar
His shooting ineffectual, Daniel backed away as the shadows separated themselves, becoming a dark, formless cloud. An unfortunate ghoul who stumbled into it's path was drained dry as it flowed through and around them as it advanced. Having no defence against such a creature, Daniel retreated.

Screams filled the air as Vin cut his way through the horde that assailed him, his two-handed machete gripped in one hand, an unfortunate kindred was held vicelike in his other. He dropped the exsanguinated vampire who had fuelled his rampage before gripping his weapon in both hands and slicing one of the survivors from shoulder to hip with a single blow. One slower than the others looked down in surprise at the blade protruding from their chest. Vin pulled him in close, tore out his throat and fed once more. The rest began to back away in fear. "I'm not fucking finished..." he said and advanced once more. Most of the group fled, the rest died.

Kayne Lowe - Lasombra
The Crypts Sons, Sabbat
Daniel risked a look behind him and discovered that he was no longer being pursued. Marius was now the shadow-creatures target. This was fortunate as Daniel had found other prey.

Though he had met him only briefly, Daniel recognised Kayne Lowe, traitor and would be leader of a Crypts Sons dedicated to the Sabbat. His posture was that of a man utterly convinced that he was going to win. Daniel had to admit that even with the recent turnabout in the fight that the numbers were still against them. A skilled leader could still emerge victorious and Daniel had no intention of allowing that victor to be Kayne.

Daniel covered the distance between them faster than Kayne could react and shot him through the face at point-blank range. Despite the grievous wound, he still stood his ground as Daniel went for the throat. Despite swearing to never do so again, Daniel lost control and once he began to drink, he could not stop until not only their vitae was consumed but their soul too.

Vin watched Marius put his fist through the side of a truck, not once, but twice before lashing out in the opposite direction. Shadows enveloped him but his blows did nothing to either dissipate or disrupt the tenebrous creature. Seeing Marius ineffectual was a unique experience for Vin and he was reasonably certain that if Marius couldn't kill it then neither could he. Vin quickly went through a mental list of options. Sunlight and fire worked against most kindred. He couldn't make the sun shine, but he had an idea when it came to fire.

Hope returned to her senses amidst a scene of total carnage.

Protean - Feral Claws, Bloody
Body parts were intermingled with eviscerated and decapitated ghouls, mortals and kindred alike had been drained and cast aside. Her claws, a permanent feature after one frenzy too many were dripping in gore. 

A semi-circle of wary enemies stood before her. All were armed, yet none had any desire to be the first to step forward. Before either side came to a decision, an explosive detonation filled the area with noise, smoke, flame and fragments of the obliterated van that Vin had detonated. 

As an expert in IED's, Hope was positive that the vehicle must have been literally packed with explosives to create such havoc. Vin meanwhile had been carried several metres through the air by the explosion. He had failed to retreat far enough after his improvised attempt to ignite the van's petrol tank had created a far greater explosion than he could possibly have imagined. Other nearby vehicles were also ablaze.

"So, there you are..."
The shadows that had been clinging to what was now a pile of flaming wreckage began to disperse as the burnt and bloody figure of a dark-haired woman stumbled from within. She looked up into the face of a figure whose body was embedded with jagged lengths of shrapnel and his clothes, or what remained of them, were burnt beyond recognition. A clawed hand reached down and hoisted her off her feet.

"So, there you are." said Marius coldly, before sinking his fangs into her throat and drinking deeply.

With their leaders gone, an organised attack was now highly unlikely, but not impossible. The attackers still had the advantage in both numbers and weaponry. But not for long. 

The reinforcements called in had began to arrive. For the enemy there was now no escape.

Sniper with Barrett M82 50 cal. rifle
Marius nodded his thanks to Vin as he absent-mindedly pulled bits of shrapnel from his now mostly naked body and healed the most serious of them. Hank and Michael emerged from the warehouse, while Max joined their allies in hunting down any remnants of their ambushers.

Suddenly and without warning Marius put himself between Michael and Hank just as a projectile of some kind penetrated deep into his shoulder and exploded taking most of his shoulder, part of his chest and a chunk of his lower jaw with it. It was unclear whether Michael or Hank was the target of the shot but their destruction would have been virtually guaranteed.

Dark blood flowed from the wound and began to take the shape of the destroyed flesh and bone as a second shot hit Marius in the chest and exploded without any harm, his flesh now apparently prepared for it. 

Marius Walker 'Transformed'
He turned and as he did so his form began to change into the hybrid humanoid bat-like creature the coterie had seen before. Wings extended and he exploded into the air towards the sniper with a scream of pure hatred. Hank took a step back in shock. Though the coterie had seen such a transformation before, Hank had apparently not.

Minutes later, Marius's monstrous form landed beside them once more. Blood was dripping from his mouth and claws, viscera and remnants of several obliterated unfortunates were still hanging from the spines and spurs of his armoured plates. He gestured to Hank without changing form "I suggest we conclude these discussions at Hallowbrook, I believe we have caused Michael enough difficulties for one evening..."

It didn't sound like a request...

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 general advice for the Vampire RPG is to have combat last no more than three rounds. I, of course, completely ignored that. So the session was quite long, still I hope it held your interest.

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 Anne is Lilith May, Yukio Hayashi is Jamie Chung, 'Priss' is Sofia Boutella, Karen Anatos is Christina Hendricks, Edmund Metcalfe is Michael Rooker, Victor Girard is Bob Hoskins, Tabatha Meyer is Michelle Rodriguez, Desdemona Moore is Amanda Donohoe, 'Hank' Boyd is Michael Clarke Duncan, Priya Haynes is Gabrielle Union, 'Hogg' is Nick Frost, Marius Walker is Tony Curran, Gloria Martinez is Ariadne Artiles, Allison Maller is Chloe Grace-Moretz, Amara Martins is Indira Varma, 'Max' is Milla Jovovich, 'The Circle' are Eiza Gonzalez, Summer Glau and Amanda Tapping, Leo Frost is Danny John-Jules, Shauna Jones is Ashley Callingbull and Kayne Lowe is Jamie Foxx.

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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