Friday 18 February 2022

Vampire the Masquerade - V5 - Session One Hundred and Four - 'The Fiorenza Sanction' (Part One)

I'm currently running a Vampire the Masquerade chronicle using the 5th Edition rule-set for a small group of fellow role-players. These are the chronicles of their adventures.
Our 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 OneTwoThreeFourFive and Six

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'
Eric Moore - Nosferatu, 'Vigilante Hacker'

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. Introductory pieces that I read to the group are in Blue. 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).

In the absence of Daniel, Michael has recruited a Nosferatu Hacker to provide the coterie with an information retrieval specialist. Though his methods were very different to those of Daniel, the results would, hopefully, be equivalent.

Meanwhile, Mr Hertz and Vin have successfully assisted Hank in his efforts to begin restoring the Crypts Sons and have negotiated a ceasefire of sorts with his rival Priss.

Storytellers Note - This session will also contain a secondary story for the character of Daniel who is attempting to redeem himself after losing control to his Beast one time too many. These are only short 'solo' sequences but will run parallel to the main storyline.

Scene One - The Fiorenza Visit
Fiorenza Savona - Ventrue
Camarilla Power Broker
Fiorenza Savona and her entourage are scheduled to arrive in L.A. to meet with you tomorrow evening. You are to be expected to provide a location for the meeting as well as it's security though she is certain to have her own 'people' with her. 

One of those accompanying her is Carmelita Neillson, a Camarilla associated archaeologist and historian who has her own bodyguard, another is Fiorenza's long-time assistant Miss Myra Ross, a Malkavian who you presumed was a Ventrue until enquiries informed you otherwise and finally she will almost certainly have her own ghouls with her for personal protection.

Fiorenza's guards never number less than four, but she rarely brings more than six so you have a ball-park figure for the number of individuals in the entourage.

The other issue is that the likelihood of her visit being noticed by the cities Anarchs is fairly high given the large kindred population of the city, especially if she has to travel far. It would therefore be wise to have a plausible explanation for the meeting should news of it leak out. Additionally, the Sabbat are still a threat and Fiorenza would be considered a significant trophy for them.

Mr Hertz has advised the rest of the coterie that Hollywood Burbank Airport is the closest legitimate landing strip to their chosen meeting place. It was just inside Burbank but was also very close to their own borders. As Baron Anatos didn't really patrol her territory, they could easily use this facility either with or without permission.

The Succubus Club
Security Room
The fact that Fiorenza was making a personal visit must mean that she deemed the coteries mission to be important enough to warrant her presence. That, or she had news of such importance that it couldn't be trusted to go-betweens and messengers.

Michael had decided to station his new recruit, Eric, in the clubs security office to monitor everything from there. The thought of what he might say if allowed into Fiorenza's presence hardly bore consideration. Politically savvy he was not.

Hope had been given perimeter patrol duties, while Vin would look after internal security. Mr Hertz was also to be present in the meeting itself as Michael had begun to find his financial advice to be invaluable. He also had a ruthless streak which Michael lacked, that enabled him to see avenues of advancement which might have eluded his far more idealistic Baron.

Abasi Khalil - Ghoul
Bodyguard to Carmelita Neillson
Though Michael had provided his visitors an escort, they had their own vehicles awaiting them at the airport. They had also somehow managed to completely bypass security and had complete runway access. Michael decided it was best not to ask how this had been achieved. As expected, Fiorenza was accompanied by her assistant Myra Ross and the archivist and archaeologist Carmelita Neillson. Her security contingent consisted of five of her ghouls and Carmelita's own bodyguard, driver and pilot Abasi Khalil.

As they drove to Michael's Succubus Club in Hollywood, he phoned ahead to ensure that refreshments had been prepared as per his specifications. Blood wine had been purchased via the Blood Sommelier Leanna and Vin had provided a number of ladies from his various brothels to act as blood dolls should such be required.

Only Carmelita's ghoul entered the meeting room with the kindred members of Fiorenza's entourage. The rest waited outside. Michael's offer of refreshments was politely rebuked, with the exception of Carmelita who helped herself to a glass of 'wine'.

The first question seemed innocuous enough though still had an edge to it.

"Your normally ever present bodyguard and tactical advisor appears to be absent. Is this something we need to be concerned about?"

Scene Two - 'Need to Know'
Mr Hertz had already mentioned to Michael that Daniel's absence from the security detail might be noticed and the Baron had already prepared a response.

Dr Daniel Matthews - Banu Haqim
Surgeon and Former Assassin
"Daniel has been throwing himself into his humanitarian efforts. He is a doctor by trade and inclination and expressed his desire to put more effort into this aspect of his unlife. It does one good to keep in touch with our human sides, don't you think?"

Michael was well aware that Fiorenza believed that the key to Kindred longevity lay in the manipulation of the living and so hoped that she would believe this half-truth. He was reasonably happy that she had accepted his claim as she moved onto her next concern.

"Though Vannevar's plan was ultimately doomed to failure, I have however placed significance importance with those of note within the Camarilla on the subtle approach. Manipulation over military might as it were, it is therefore of import for me to know exactly what you are capable of achieving, within your new position as arbiter of this Anarch Council?"

Vannevar Thomas - Ventrue
Former Prince of San Francisco
Michael first thanked her for her appreciation of the nuanced approach before moving onto a more confrontational aspect of their recent achievement in undermining former Prince Vannevar Thomas.

"I'll get to that in a moment..." he began. "...but first we need to discuss Vannevars revelation to all present that I was an agent of the Camarilla. Information that should never have been in his hands, regardless of how implausible the claim seemed. An implausibility based in no small part on precautions I'd put in place specifically to undermine any such claim by an enemy."

Fiorenza indicated that Michael should continue

"This has significantly undermined my ability to subtly nudge the Anarch Council to adopt policies more in line with those of the Camarilla. Any such suggestion now brings to the minds of those present the claims made against me and subsequently puts me under closer scrutiny than is desirable. This raises significant doubts for me about what is shared with you via your agents. Who knows what might find it's way to those opposed to our goals or myself personally?" Vin was paying particular interest at this point. Despite Michael's assurances and justifications for his actions, Vin was still suspicious that his Baron was dangerously close to 'going native', if he hadn't already.

Sara Winder - Ventrue
Prince of San Francisco
Before Michael could continue, Fiorenza interrupted him. "You're beginning to labour the point, which is a conversational habit I have no time to indulge. I can however, help you with this particular issue.

"I have influence with the Prince and Primogen of San Francisco and other significant kindred. I can use this influence to undermine the former Prince and any propaganda that he may have spread. His credibility had already been reduced as a result of concessions that you forced upon him at the summit which ended the Camarilla invasion, this makes it relatively simple to establish the idea that he was attempting to find excuses for his own part in the plans abject failure."

Michael decided that continuing along this line of debate would gain him nothing so decided to answer her original question. He also noticed that he was being carefully observed by Vin, no doubt due to the Brujah's doubts about his commitment to the Camarilla.

"My position as Arbiter allows me to influence which Council matters are given priority and which are skimmed over. It also allows me to tip the balance in the favour of ideas which further our goals for the city, rather than strengthen the Anarchs. As with any system, some rules can be bent, others broken, and I can decide which. We even managed to curtail some of Marius's activities by forcing the title of Baron upon him, and you know how much he hates titles."

Both Michael and Vin noticed that Fiorenza was amused at the the thought of an inconvenienced Marius. The mention of his name had also seemingly prompted a change of subject.

"How is your current relationship with Marius and his psychotic ghoul?" enquired Fiorenza.

Scene Three - Kicking the Hornets Nest
Marius Walker - Gangrel Baron of Downtown
Michael paused for a moment before replying. "Mr Hertz has some suspicions that he may or may not be ready to share..."

The Nosferatu tipped his hat in greeting before beginning.

"It's difficult to tie the threads together currently but several of his identifiable schemes seem to have a theme behind them. He has supported Gangrel with whom he has had no previous connections, withdrew deep cover agents from within the Sabbat and assisted with the formation of several new Gangrel Packs. He's also drawing significant resources to him, many of which were previously under the control of other members of his clan who have been destroyed."

"All these things seem to indicate an individual attempting to unite many disparate elements under one banner, though for what purpose I cannot yet deduce."

Lucinde - Ventrue
Justicar and Red Alastor
Fiorenza nodded in return before replying. "I may be able to shed some light on those activities but firstly we need to discuss some of the more dangerous consequences of his scheming."

Michael was well aware that Marius was dangerous, but his schemes also tended to have safety precautions 'built in', so any unplanned consequences were of interest to him. Especially if he could use them to strengthen his own position.

"A concern has been raised by certain intelligence gathering operatives about Marius 'kicking the hornets nest' as you might say, of the Sabbat. As the source of this intelligence was Lucinde, Justicar of Clan Ventrue and Red Alastor of the Camarilla, it would be political suicide for us to ignore. Myra has more information on this weighty issue..."

Myra Ross speaks "His grandechilde, leader of one of Xaviar's packs, one Meredith Lang, left the Sabbat who she had successfully infiltrated and monitored for Xaviar for many years, and presumably for Marius since Xaviar's destruction. On her way to meet with her grandesire she used her knowledge of the local Sabbat leaders and her pack accounted for a Priscus, two Archbishops, several Bishops and a dozen of their Templar bodyguards.

Meanwhile 'Vein', another completely amoral grandechilde of Marius used the confusion Meredith had created to assassinate one of their Cardinals. In short, it is our belief that he is deliberately provoking the Sabbat and subsequently drawing them to L.A. Of concern to us is the amount of Camarilla domains they may rampage through on the way to this city."

"Talk amongst the Justicars has once more turned to Blood Hunts and The Red List..."

Meredith Lang - Gangrel, Pack Leader of Ennoia's Hunters, 'Ex' Sabbat

"One also might ask oneself the question, during the Sabbat disruption of your recent negotiations, whether Marius looked surprised about the attack?"

As Michael had spent most of the battle within the warehouse, he deferred to Vin for a reply.

Consuela Martinez - Lasombra
Leader of the 'The Killing Spree'
"Not really..." stated Vin after some consideration. "...but then he rarely does, does he? Though he was certainly not expecting to be fighting a member of Clan Lasombra as he was completely unprepared to do so as far as I could tell."

"Later, he voiced his doubts that the kindred he destroyed was Consuela Maria Martinez, something about her 'tasting wrong'. I guess if anyone could tell, it would be him."

Fiorenza thanked Vin for his input with a respectful tone that she rarely used with the other members of the coterie. Possibly her close association with his sire played some part in that. Desdemona Moore was definitely a kindred you didn't want to give an excuse to become an enemy.

"You said you could shed some light on Marius's scheming?" prompted Mr Hertz

"What do you know of Xaviar, former Justicar of Clan Gangrel?" she promptly countered.

Michael was aware that it was Xaviar who had effectively removed Clan Gangrel from the Camarilla and was therefore, in no small part, responsible for how many of them were now Anarchs, he also knew that he had, by all accounts, been destroyed. Michael also had it on good authority that Xaviar had used Marius for one suicidal job after another, while simultaneously blocking any chances for his advancement within the Camarilla so as to not lose control of such a useful asset. He relayed this general information to Fiorenza.

Myra Ross - Malkavian
Seneschal to Fiorenza Savona
Fiorenza once more indicated that Myra should speak. She seemed to be a repository of knowledge on a variety of subjects.

"When Marius's Sire Xaviar was destroyed, Marius would have been one of the few kindred with even the vaguest idea of the former Justicars global activities."

"Xaviar had been coordinating packs of Gangrel who stood by his cause. He insisted that they remain mobile, for a moving vampire would be a harder meal for the Antediluvians than one who remains in the city, and he periodically required them to provide 'scouting reports' of territory through which they have recently passed. Slowly, Xaviar was amassing an enormous database of supernatural activity. Of course, most believed that this database was only in his head; Xaviar would not know a computer if an enemy dropped one on him. They were however, not entirely correct. Xaviar may have had no such capabilities, but he had many followers who did."

"Xaviar's legacy is a worldwide organisation of Gangrel packs, information to rival a Neillson library and a collection of both vampiric and supernatural artefacts. Marius is, in theory, the inheritor of this legacy and he would certainly attempt to control it through his own bloodline when possible, or when not, by making the benefits of working with him outweigh any negatives."

"This, combined with his interference in the Sabbat's activities indicates a grand scheme, decades in the planning...or more worryingly, he's just gone insane...either way, he's only one or two wrong moves away from Lucinde adding him to the Red List."

Genina, The Red Poet - Samedi
"Thanks to her recent capture of Genina, the so-called 'Red Poet', in San Francisco, there's now a vacancy...there are seven candidates to potentially fill the gap currently, in order to bring the total Anathema to thirteen once more, Marius would make the total candidates eight...currently he's not very high in that list, though that is something that could easily change..."

She then reeled off the current list of potentials. These were Adonai, Enkidu, Jayne Jonestown, Kyoko Shinsegawa, Madame Guil, Marius Walker, Sullivan Dane and Takuma Sononda. Some of these names were familiar to the coterie, others were not. But as this was an issue that was significantly 'above their pay grade', they simply acknowledged the information and remained silent.

Fiorenza then took over the conversation once more. "Back to the subject of the seems that Desdemona Moore, sire of Vin..." She acknowledged Vin as she spoke his name " still concerned about her childe, who may well also be within this city. She was to the Sabbat, what Vin is to the Anarch's though few are privy to that secret. We know that Mr Ghast has been putting some effort into finding his 'sister of the blood' but has, as far as we know, had little in the way of success..."

Vin's own investigations had given him the location of an old underground 'safe house' where she may have gone to ground. This had been based off of street level enquiries made by his vast network of informants amongst those who lived on the streets of the city, cross-referenced with information obtained from the Toreador Madams known as 'The Blossoms'.

Unfortunately this location was beneath an area close to the borders between the Baronies of Hollywood, West L.A. and Downtown. Being underground made it difficult to narrow down which Baron's territory this place fell under so Vin had held off from investigating, until he had a firm idea of whose permission he would need, that is.  "That's a fair assessment." replied Vin but didn't elaborate.

Fiorenza continued "...this particular situation can't be placed at Marius's door. However if he was indeed drawing certain Sabbat to the city for some nefarious purpose, it would certainly have been something he would have attempted to use for his own benefit if he was aware of it."

"We believe that Georgiana was simply discovered and forced to withdraw herself on short notice. Her last contact with Desdemona had her infiltrating a group of Brujah sympathetic to some of the Sabbat's aims within L.A. They had located an Elder's tomb who they intended to unearth and for their strongest member to diablerize. It now seems likely that this was the resting place of the Countess d'Adhemar. Their connection to those kindred in your account of Brujah ancestor worshippers seeking the same tomb is unknown. Could these ancestor worshippers and Sabbat sympathisers in fact been one and the same or separate offshoots of a single group? Who knows?"

Scene Four - Bloodlines
Fiorenza reclined in her chair and her body language indicated to Michael that she was about to share something of considerable importance. He wasn't disappointed.

Carmelita Neillson - Toreador
Archaeologist and Archivist
"We have become concerned that amongst these Sabbat might be individuals with a low enough generation to counter some of your coteries more subtle defensive options such as Domination and supernatural levels of Presence. The Justicars have therefore empowered me to authorize Michael to commit a sanctioned diablerie of the Countess d'Adhemar should he wish to do so. Carmelita isn't particularly happy about this but the Countess would have little to no information of value to the Camarilla. Of course if you have no desire to take up our generous offer then we can certainly find a kindred who would...though we will give you a few nights to consider the ramifications before making the offer to another..."

Michael detected the subtle threat in the offer. If he didn't accept then the dubious honour would go to another, who then, by definition, would become a threat to Michael's own position in Fiorenza's plan for the city. Nonetheless, he had no intention of being bullied into a decision which had such serious ramifications. He also had no desire to alienate Carmelita. 

"I'll take the time you have offered to fully think this through." Michael replied, though he was already attempting to justify to himself why the answer should be yes. The Toreador could trace his bloodline back to Helena herself, and he had to admit that his list of kindred ancestors contained no small amount of power obsessed and utterly ruthless individuals. 

Salvador Garcia - Brujah
Anarch Revolutionary
Of course, he thought, his reasons would be different than those others. This was not some petty grab at power but rather a selfless sacrificing of his humanity for the greater good of the city.

Storytellers Note - Michael's player does an excellent job of roleplaying his characters attempts to convince himself of the good in even his most unsavoury of actions.

"Of course..." replied Fiorenza. " may take a reasonable amount of time to come to a decision. You are the first kindred to which we have made this offer. We will not select another candidate unless you refuse..."

Michael's internal monologue of justifications for committing the act of diablerie were interrupted by Fiorenza's next revelation.

"So, other than Marius, and the Sabbat there is a third and a fourth issue that we need to discuss. The fourth I will leave to Carmelita, the third is Salvador Garcia..."

"I'm sure a kindred of your intelligence would have suspected that an alliance between Gloria Martinez and Allison Maller would intrigue their mutual sire. You also must have suspected that as soon as Jesus Ramirez was outed from El Hermandad that he headed straight back to the welcoming arms of Salvador..."

Given the coteries involvement in the events that led to the ousting of Ramirez, this could cause them some problems. It's unlikely that his assessment of the situation in L.A. would have painted any of them in a particularly positive light.

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

"...Well, he's on his way back to Los Angeles, Salvador that is, of Ramirez we've heard nothing. His third surviving childe, Carlyle has also left Chicago, no doubt a family reunion is on the cards in the near future. This could disrupt your plan to manipulate this 'new' Anarch Council. Should Salvador get a seat at that table he can leverage his reputation to considerable effect, even working through Gloria and Allison he can impose his will."

Jesus Ramirez - Ventrue
Advisor to Salvador Garcia
"Arbiter is not a permanent position and Garcia would make an extremely attractive prospect to many in The Free States...not to mention he can pull in favours from half of the kindred revolutionaries on the planet and not a small amount of mortal equivalents..."

Michael was aware of the philosophies of Salvador Garcia having looked into them when researching the Anarch Free States. He was also sure that he could convince Garcia of the benefits of the changes made in Anarch Los Angeles over the last few years. If he could make an ally of Garcia, his position could be made more secure, not less. Of course if Ramirez wasn't around, that left the position of Garcia's advisor open. This was a position Michael would be happy to fill.

"Killing him isn't an option then?" queried Vin. No-one was sure whether the statement was an attempt at humour or not. With Vin it was sometimes hard to tell.

Mr Hertz had his own input.

"The consequences of discovery would make Garcia's assassination far too risky. Carlyle on the other hand had many enemies in Chicago. Should he be killed, suspicion would fall upon Sheriff Damien, or one of his Hounds. In fact he even had enemies amongst the Chicago Anarchs. I seem to recall that a Brujah named 'Gengis' particularly disliked him."

Though Michael was uncomfortable with the open discussion of destroying kindred in cold blood, he himself hadn't suggested any such thing. This, as far as he was concerned, freed him from any burden of guilt should such an act be committed.

Sheriff Damien and 'Gengis' - Chicago Brujah, Enemies of Carlyle

Fiorenza seemed content to leave such decisions in the hands of the coterie. It was then Carmelita's turn to speak.

"It has come to our attention that a kindred of significant influence has had his hand in the development of Los Angeles for quite some time. He has the advantage of both age, generation and lineage. looking for an individual who matches this profile, broadly speaking, so if you have, or in the future obtain, any information on this individual it needs to be reported to us immediately. Ancient debts have been called in and extremely powerful kindred are...quite keen...that this situation be resolved to the elder ones is also possible that the Sabbat are aware of this kindred of influence and are certain to be interested in diablerising them."

Christopher Houghton - Toreador
Michael was sure that Carmelita was referring to Christopher Houghton, who he also suspected was the Sire of Isaac Abrams, Baron of Hollywood. This was a piece of knowledge he had no intention of sharing and so decided that deflection was his best option.

"I've encountered several elder kindred within this city but they are all known to you."

Michael had decided that his best chance for hiding the truth about Christopher would be diversion, rather than an outright lie.

"Louis Fortier, Marius Walker, the Nosferatu Alonzo Guillen are all kindred with several centuries of unlife but none had a hand in shaping this city until relatively recently. There are other elders of course, but none would be considered either old enough or powerful enough to be the individual that you're seeking. I'll keep my eye out, of course, and should I find out anything of use I'll let you know as soon as is possible, but as it currently stands I have no information to share."

All present seemed satisfied with his answer, though Michael got the impression that Myra Ross had her doubts. Something about the way she stared at him made him uncomfortable, as if she wasn't so much looking at him, but through him.

Marcelina Black - Ventrue
The Circulatory System, L.A. 'Farm'
"Before we leave, is there anything I can do to assist you?" asked Miss Savona, catching Michael completely by surprise.

"Actually..." replied Michael. "...what do you know about The Young Bloods?"

Michael explained that the Circulatory System had offered to assist them in the rescue of several kindred held as prisoners by the gang of Unbound Ghouls and added his suspicion that they intended to ransom them back to their sires or other interested parties.

"Pressuring the Circulatory System to back off would be a political nightmare." admitted Fiorenza, in a surprisingly piece of honesty. Given the amount of elder Ventrue who relied upon the System to supply their rarefied tastes in vessels, this was hardly a surprise.

"I can however reduce your need to include The System in any rescue operation by offering any help that allows you to justify a solo attempt upon this gang. I am willing to facilitate a moderate expenditure of resources should you require them."

Michael gave his thanks, and with the meeting apparently over, arranged to escort his guests back to the airport.

"Well that went well." said Mr Hertz

Michael agreed, but privately he wasn't quite as sure as he made it seem. He had a nagging feeling that he'd missed something. Something important...

Interlude - Appetites
Isaac Abrams - Toreador
Baron of Hollywood
Velvet moved along the rows of men and women, making her selections as she went. "This young lady, this handsome gentleman, think not, but this one will do perfectly..."

Isaac Abrams, Baron of Hollywood, had given his adopted childe a number of tasks to perform, each of which was a small part of a much grander scheme of which VV was only partially aware. She had obtained information on Salavador Garcia from Velme, now she had to gain access to the LAX airport which was within the domain of Louis Fortier.

She had arranged a party for some significant Hollywood dignitaries and had contacted Catherine about providing some additional recreational opportunities for her guests. Hopefully this would make her meeting with Fortier's most favoured childe and mistress seem more natural.

Catherine DuBois's stable of stunning debauched beauties of both sexes were each capable of providing entertainment on a level of excitement that only the very wealthy and very bizarre could appreciate. Velvet didn't entirely approve, but she did understand.

They acted as blood dolls, entertainment for Fortier's guests and enabled Catherine to ingratiate herself with societies elite. Politicians, celebrities, millionaires and a few billionaires all had Catherine's number to hand and were more than willing to repay her hospitality with any favours she required in return.

Catherine DuBois - Ventrue
Childe and Mistress of Baron Fortier
Once Velvet had played out the ruse for long enough, she subtly manipulated the conversation to her true objective.

"I have another small favour to ask, but it's somewhat personal."

Intrigued, Catherine asked her to continue.

VV explained that she had a surprise visitor arranged for Isaac and that she would, at some time in the future, need access to an airport facility in order to facilitate the arrangements.

"I'm honoured that you'd ask my assistance..." replied Catherine. "...but why not simply ask Louis?"

Velvet had suspected that this might be the response and had already prepared for the eventuality.

"Because dearest..." lied Velvet, as she moved an imaginary piece of hair from Catherine's forehead. "...despite being hundreds of years old, they're still men and the chances of Louis not blabbing about it to Isaac are too high for me to risk ruining the surprise..."

Velvet continued. "Like you Catherine, I find myself responsible for keeping the home fires burning for my Baron. I thought if anyone would understand my needs it would be you..."

It was immediately obvious to Velvet that Catherine believed her completely, but what she had said had mainly been plausible, because the latter statement was, for the most part, true. In that moment she felt a kinship to Catherine and manipulating her was something that she felt slightly guilty about.

Velvet Velour - Toreador, Owner of Club Vesuvius

Even as lacking in empathy as she was reputed to be, Catherine detected the change in Velvets mood. "Are you alright?"

"I'm fine." replied Velvet, gaining control of her emotions once more. "Is there anything I can do to thank you for your help?"

"I'm sure between us we can come up with something..." answered Catherine.

Scene Five - Resurrection
Daniel had accepted Marius's offer to attempt to teach him how to control his urge for kindred vitae after he, once more, failed to resist the temptation to commit the act of Diablerie. Though Marius was vague about the origins of these skills and esoteric disciplines, the Banu Haqim was far too desperate to ask too many questions. At least for now.

Daniel's first day of training with Marius was more like a history lesson than the passing on of any practical skills. He was taught the history of the discipline he was to learn and some of it's origins.

"No bloodline possesses an affinity for Bardo, and it requires strict self-discipline and meditation. A Kindred's development in this discipline is, unfortunately, limited by what remains of their Humanity."

Marius Walker - Serial Diablerist
This concerned Daniel as one of his problems was that his humanity had been eroded severely by the multiple acts of diablerie he had committed. It also begged the question of how exactly Marius used these abilities as he committed diablerie almost as a matter of course.

Marius continued. "Although it teaches control over certain aspects of the undead condition, the Discipline of Bardo is not related to the mystical state of Golconda; while the Golconda is a realization and acceptance of the vampiric nature, Bardo is based in denial. The Children of Osiris denied the Beast within them by intensely concentrating on their Humanity and their state of death. Thus, if one of it's users was to give up his meditations and discipline, he would be once again assailed by his Beast."

Daniel wasn't put off by this as he had figured that his redemption would be something requiring continual work. Not something for which there was a quick fix.

The Children of Osiris
"Hierarchy usually comes in levels of respect, gained through degree of adherence to the discipline of Bardo. However, attainment of the discipline is never forced. It must be balanced and learned by example in an effort to have a pure existence in their most impure form. The Children put forth no illusions about themselves. As a child develops, they gain a sense of vision and penitence, and often become perfectionists."

Daniel was slightly confused as Marius bounced between describing the Children of Osiris in both current and past tenses, but the desire to achieve perfection was something he understood perfectly. Though it once more piqued his curiosity about how exactly Marius was achieving the necessary 'purity' to utilise these techniques.

"The Children of Osiris were founded by Osiris, the 'Resurrected King'", Marius explained, though it was clear that he didn't believe that they still existed. "Those who are an authority on the Children of Osiris do believe the remaining children exist in secret, under the direction of a kindred called Khetamon, the 'Grand Undying King'". 

Kindred Destruction
Marius seemed positive that this kindred had been destroyed as well. The disciplines attributed to these individuals had led some, Marius included, to believe that either one or both were Caitiff, albeit ancient ones.

Marius taught him that all their members come from other clans, or were Caitiffs as the Children of Osiris were not a unique Clan. This meant that there were hardly any neonates in their ranks. It was also true that few elders joined, as the Children require a kindred to still value a high level of Humanity. 

He also revealed that their arch-nemeses were the Followers of Set, who now called themselves The Ministry

"Sometime around 4000 BCE, the Founder of the Children, Osiris, went on a spiritual journey, likely to India, to investigate deep mystical enlightenment and practice ancient methods of meditation. He was compelled to take control over the "Beast" within, as he did not accept his Embrace well. It took him a millennium to develop and master this control, which became a new Discipline, known as Bardo.

"After gaining mastery of Bardo, Osiris preached this newfound way to other Kindred, thus forming the Children of Osiris bloodline. Osiris granted his Children knowledge of Bardo, a discipline very difficult to master, whose secrets are never shared with outsiders."

Marius laughed at the irony of his last statement. It was also obvious that he had no intention of telling you how he learned what he's teaching you. At least, not yet.

'Mary' - Gangrel
Bahari, 'The Chosen of Ennoia'
"Because Bardo gives a vampire a sense of humanity, it is greatly looked down upon by most vampire clans, especially the Followers of Set, as they called themselves before they rebranded themselves as 'The Ministry', who despise the thought of 'preserving humanity'. The Children, in return, viewed the Followers as utter evil that needed to be destroyed. Their legends state that Set once tore Osiris apart and the Children used Bardo to restore Osiris to unlife. However, Osiris' "rebirth" came at the cost of sterility - Osiris returned unable to sire childer or create ghouls. His Children pay homage to their Founder's change by refraining from the Embrace, instead taking in Caitiff and other castaways to expand their numbers."

Marius didn't seem to show any scorn when relaying the tale. The doctor presumed that he's seen enough in his six centuries of unlife to know that the tale could actually be true. However unlikely it sounded.

He then informed Daniel that tomorrow evening he would introduce him to 'Mary' who would initiate him in the Bahari's methods of discipline through pain. Suddenly it became clear. Marius had obviously invented some other ways of achieving the necessary focus, undoubtedly based around the Bahari's principles that greater levels of insight could be achieved through the application of pain.

The next few nights were certainly going to be interesting...

Storytellers Note - I had agreed with Daniel's player that rather than gain XP during his separate story arc that he would instead gain abilities relating to his quest for redemption. First, Daniel gained a specialty in the Occult skill, namely Kindred Religions.

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, Fiorenza Savona is Jamie Lee Curtis, Abasi Khalil is Zeeko Zaki, Vannevar Thomas is Bryan Dechart, Sara Anne Winder is Saoirse Ronan, Marius Walker is Tony Curran, Lucinde is Charlize Theron, Meredith Lang is Jaime Murray, Consuela Marie Martinez is Aubrey Plaza, Myra Ross is Mandy Moore, The Blossoms are Alyssa Milano, Rose McGowan and Holly Marie Combs, Desdemona Moore is Amanda Donohoe, Carmelita Neillson is Salma Hayek, Salvador Garcia is Antonio Banderas, Gloria Martinez is Ariadne Artiles, Allison Maller is Chloe Grace-Moretz, Jesus Ramirez is Javier Bardem, Marcelina Black is Carrie Anne Moss, Isaac Abrams is Gary Oldman and Catherine DuBois is Margot Robbie

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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