Friday, 1 April 2022

Vampire the Masquerade - V5 - Session One Hundred and Ten - 'Hunter's Hunted' (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 OneTwoThreeFourFive and Six
Story Twenty Seven - 'The Fiorenza Sanction' - Part OneTwo and Three
Story Twenty Eight - 'Hunters Hunted' - Part One, Two 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'
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), Imprisonment, Torture. 

Vera and 'Z' - The Young Bloods Leaders
Though Vin, Hope and Eric they have finally reached the kindred prisoners of the Young Bloods their mission is not yet over. The rescue would be greatly facilitated by gaining possession of the keys to their heavily secured cells, and all present now wish the destruction of the Unbound Ghoul gangs leaders Z and his partner Vera.

They have also discovered that The Young Bloods have some dangerous allies and have been supplied with weapons specifically designed with the destruction of kindred in mind. The identity of these allies and the source of their weaponry is a mystery that also needs to be solved.

Meanwhile, back in Los Angeles, Daniel is to meet someone who can apparently help with his personal quest to restore his Humanity and quieten the Beast within.

Storytellers Note - This was yet another long session so you might want to get a nice beverage and some snacks before starting reading.

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 Twenty Three - The Hidden Ones
Hallowbrook - Downtown L.A.
Marius's Haven and Headquarters
Marius had invited Daniel to Hallowbrook to meet with the mysterious individual he alluded to when they had met yesterday night.

He was taken via the freight elevator, down into the sub-basement area where Hallowbrook's lower levels intersected with the sewer network. From there Marius guided him through a bewildering maze of tunnels both old and new. Daniel's preternatural senses clearly indicated that they were being followed, a fact confirmed by the occasional glimpse of one of the Swarm, a horde of cannibalistic kindred who worshipped their bloodthirsty mistress in the warrens below Downtown. 

They disappeared for quite some time as the pair entered an area of significant neglect and decay. Whatever lived here didn't show itself but the sense of danger was still palpable. As this feeling faded, their followers returned once more.

"Don't concern yourself with them." said Marius, dismissively. "They know better than to get in my way, they're just trying to discover something that might interest their mistress long enough to prevent her making them her next snack..."

Eventually Daniel found himself below another building whose cellar entrance was guarded by a kindred he recognised. She was Celeste Fleming a childe of Meredith Lang, leader of the Gangrel Pack known as Ennoia's Hunters. Celeste was beautiful, like many selected to join Marius's bloodline, but there was something off-putting about her too. 

Meredith Lang and her Childe, Celeste Fleming - Gangrel

Daniel couldn't quite put his finger on what bothered him about her, but he decided to avoid turning his back on her without good reason from now on.

As she stepped aside, he found himself in another of Marius's properties, Skyline Apartments. From here he was led to a vacant apartment where he was apparently to meet with this elusive kindred benefactor.

Salubri - Tears of Vitae
The individual seated in the apartment was somewhat of an anti-climax after all the subterfuge. That is until she opened her blood red eyes, and a third orb in the centre of her forehead also flicked open.

"I'll leave you two alone..." said Marius as he backed from the room.

She commanded him to stay where he was and he did. As she placed her hand upon his forehead, he could feel a strange warmth. He felt no need to pull away even as vitae dripped from all three of her eyes.

He found his mental wellbeing fortified and his body felt stronger than it had for quite some time. Even his feelings of guilt were lessened. As she spoke he found himself hanging on every word, if she could lessen his burdens with a mere touch, then hopefully her powers were capable of far more. 

'Kalpini' - Autarkis Salubri Healer
"The Beast is taking control but I can push it back down, dulling it's power over you, if only a little. Enough at least to give you a head start in your quest for redemption, for the state we call Golconda."

"Unfortunately current circumstances require me to sell my ability, rather than give it away, for which I apologise. You see, there is something I need..."

"There was a cult based in the mountains near Santa Monica. It has had many rulers, Revenants of the Tzimisce, Mages of the Verbena, Kindred of the Tremere, and Revenants once more. They now call themselves the Cult of the Bloody Hand and have thrown their lot in with the Bahari. Their former fortress is now abandoned, but they left something there, something that it's early occupants had long forgotten about. I wish it retrieved. Others have learned of it and I wish it bought to me before less enlightened kindred use it for purposes for which it was never intended."

"When the codex is placed in my hand, I will bind your Beast in return. Do we have a deal?"

It was obvious that further information on this artefact would only be revealed should he agree to perform the task required of him.

"I will be here for another two nights. If I have had no answer by then I'll presume that you have refused the task and will seek out what I desire in some other manner..."

He did a little research of his own as he considered his response. What he discovered threw up more questions than answers.

Interlude - The Salubri
Storytellers Note - This was given to the player as a handout.

Clan Symbol of the Salubri
The schemes of the Kindred yield winners and losers, and each winner demands a loser to pay the price of that success. Such is the case with the Salubri, centuries ago renowned for wisdom and erudition, but now little more than a despised footnote in the schemes of the Damned.

Tonight, the Salubri are arguably no longer even a clan, their progenitor, so it is told, having succumbed to the fangs of a more ambitious usurper who bolstered his own clan with that purloined Blood. Theirs is a legacy of tragedy, but also a bitter lesson in the millennia-spanning Eternal Struggle, for in their destruction, those who overtook them burdened them with the reputation for the crime to which they were the victim. As if to compound the recognition of this guilt, every Salubri bears a third eye in the centre of their forehead, the indicator of their lineage.

Salubri childer are few — it is whispered that only seven ever exist at one time, but whether or not that remains true in the modern nights cannot be confirmed. According to their custom, Salubri sires Embrace only when they reach Golconda, thereby passing on their curse anew each time, but again, the current state of Kindred affairs calls this into question. Thus the choice of childer is an even more intensely personal decision for the Salubri than for other Kindred. 

Saulot - The Illuminated One
Salubri Antediluvian
They seek those with inquisitive natures, nigh-pious will, and no small note of personal difficulty about them. To Salubri sires considering progeny, a potential childe must have a problem to solve; Salubri do not Embrace on whim. They may Embrace the terminally ill, those who have endured a family tragedy, or those with an unquenchable drive to right a worldly wrong.

It is believed that the progenitor of the clan, the enigmatic Saulot, was in fact the first Kindred to attain Golconda, and his lineage still attempts to walk that path centuries after his destruction. They often lead troubled unlives, weighed down by the Kindred condition but buoyed by the promise of redemption, however elusive it may seem. Undaunted, the Salubri pursue the answer to Caine’s damnation, and have even helped others find their own personal absolution.

Or have they? With the power to grant aid comes the power to harm, especially to hear the tales of soul-stealing and congress with unholy entities that swirl in the wake of Clan Salubri’s ruin. This, combined with details of the aggressive stance some Salubri take toward their fellow Kindred — hunting and destroying those they deem dangerously proximate to the Beast — have muddied the reputation of the clan to those few who know of them. But is this credible or hearsay?

Few Princes want them in their domains, because they’re usually on the outs with somebody, and even Anarch Barons may feel sympathy for the Salubri, but rarely to the extent that they’re willing to harbour a fugitive in their territory. Much of the Salubri lot is being hated and hunted for something their sires may or may not have done centuries ago.

The fate of the Salubri in these final nights is grim, but they face their lot with a perspective rare among the Kindred. Willing as they are to help others walk the difficult path of Golconda, many Salubri seem to actually want to “solve” the problem of being a vampire rather than indulging it. Some others vow to destroy the more blatant transgressors of the Kindred condition and enlist the aid of others to pursue them, redeeming or destroying Wights, low-Humanity vampires, and those who otherwise revel in their damnation.

Scene Twenty Four - Romulus
Reinforced Prison Cell Door
Vin and Hope reassured the nine imprisoned kindred that they would return to free them as soon as they could. 

After some preliminary testing the pair had discovered that opening the cells was just too time consuming without the keys to the many reinforced locks that secured them. There was also the issue of the noise alerting other guards while the two infiltrators were trapped in a relatively narrow corridor and without any cover of note.

The cells had definitely been designed with superhuman residents in mind. Either the Young Bloods had learned over time, or they had had help. The doors certainly didn't look standard for the facility.

Besides which, they intended to wipe out the rest of the gang and their leadership, who were certain to have been the ones who secured the prisoners whose vitae they extracted in order to maintain their ghoul status. The death of the gangs leaders and acquisition of the necessary keys could be considered 'two birds with one stone'.

As they moved into the next section they first passed a makeshift surgery geared towards extracting blood and its storage. One fridge contained mortal blood, presumably used to feed the vampires. The other contained vitae, also in blood bags. There were also several cattle-prods and a charging station. It didn't take much imagination to work out what they were for.

On the far side of this cell block was another secure door.

"Someone's disabled the security camera's beyond this point." announced Eric. 

Eugene 'Romulus' Bargen - Toreador
Childe of Kingsley Barker
I'm in the system, but they're just not there...sorry guys...wait...scratch that...they did a half-arsed job. One of the buggers is still working but it's a shite angle. So there's no guards stationed in this corridor and the security checkpoint is unmanned. Weird. A mere four cells within this level it seems and only one is occupied. Can't see by what or who though. Like I said, it's a shite angle.

Eric's assessment was correct and the area was discovered to be suspiciously empty.

Chained to the wall of the first cell was Eugene 'Romulus' Bargen, childe of Kingsley Barker, first victim of the Young Bloods and the only victim the coterie knew of by name. A second cell showed signs of recent occupation but was currently empty.

Eugene was clearly traumatised by his experiences and barely moved when approached. Vin used his supernatural presence to focus the kindred's attention on himself so he could ask him some questions. Vin usually used this ability for the purposes of intimidation but had seen Michael use it in this manner often enough to know of the potential benefits.

He made no reaction to the name Eugene, but became slightly more animated when referred to by his preferred nickname of Romulus. Their first enquiry was about the keys to his, and the other prisoners freedom.

"Z's Bitch has the keys to the other cells, Z himself has the keys to mine and the ones for his latest prize..."

Keys to the High Security Locks
Vin and Hope looked at each other at the mention of another 'prize'. "Romulus...Any idea where they took their prize?" asked Hope in as calm a tone as the notoriously impatient Gangrel could muster,

"Two religious looking nutjobs took the woman down to interrogation. Z and his whore are with them..."

The pair had already killed two individuals who were clearly not of the gang. They too had religious iconography on their armour and weapons, and had stake launching attachments on their guns. The fact that one also had had a sword was a worrying development. 

Meanwhile, Romulus was now becoming more talkative and began to pass on what information he had. It didn't make a great deal of sense.

"They think I don't listen anymore, but I hear everything..." he leant forward conspiratorially, coming as close to the cell door as his restraints would allow "...their new friends are going to equip them and use them to purge San Jose, then Los Angeles, then San Diego...they're going to make an army of ghouls and Thinbloods under their control and use them as their army against the blank bodies...that's what they call us...fucking idiots... "

Once more reassuring a Young Bloods prisoner that they would return soon, the Brujah and the Gangrel continued onwards.

Scene Twenty Five - An Alliance
"Nothing to hack into here..." announced Eric. "I have fuck all data for whatever's up ahead. Everything's disconnected and they did a proper job this time. Whatever's happening down there, someone doesn't want to be watched while they're doing it..."

The pair advanced as stealthily as possible towards the next door, noting as they did that it was slightly ajar. The voices beyond were faint, but discernible. 

"So..." said a voice, dripping with arrogance. "...tell me more about this other group of blank-bodies that you were once a part of. Be thorough or I'll have to heat up the blowtorch again...

The first speaker was then interrupted by another male voice. This one was far less well spoken. "Remember our agreement Raphael, I need this bitch to survive. Her blood is fucking strong and some of the things I can do now are going to be useful to both of us, I need that power to control the others, mere strength isn't enough any more..."

Mariel St. John - Ventrue
Adopted Childe of Baron Fortier
A female voice then interjected "Let the man work Z. He knows what he's doing. Besides which, I want to hear her scream after what she did to our lads at the half-way house..."

Storytellers Note - The story of what happened at the Young Bloods so-called 'Half-way House' can be found HERE.

"Fuck...You..." replies a voice they both recognised as that of Mariel St. John. "I'm not afraid of fire, I've walked through it and laughed about it, don't you bastards know anything about who you're hunting?..." despite her predicament, the scorn she levelled at her interrogators was almost impressive. 

The room resembles nothing less than a torture chamber, though given its vast size, almost certainly once had a different purpose. A bar attached to the ceiling near the far end has half a dozen hooks dangling from it. Some have bloody chains hanging from them, one of which has a severed hand still in one manacle. However, only one has a victim attached.

Dressed in the tattered remains of what was once no doubt a very expensive outfit, is Mariel St John, adopted childe and mistress of Louis Fortier, Baron of West L.A.. She is blindfolded and has evidently been cut, burnt and shocked by a bewildering array of torture instruments scattered across a nearby medical trolley.

The fact that she continues to smile, causes the man before her to backhand her across the face. She continues to laugh as you enter the room, the focus of the four within is on her, for now...

Feral Claws and Fists of Caine
Hope ran into the room and leapt towards the chains holding Mariel. Razor sharp claws, enhanced by the most puissant manifestation of the discipline known to kindred as Potence, tore through the restraints. The Ventrue prisoner fell to the ground as Hope herself rolled into a fighting crouch.

Vin reached the group a moment later and drove his blade in a two-handed downward blow towards the head of an individual armed with a bewildering array of vampire hunting equipment. Having the element of surprise and the edge in both speed and strength, Vin was expecting to slice the hunter in half. 

His machete was met by a two-handed sword which blocked his own strike. More surprising was the fact that the wielder somehow managed to stop the blades momentum dead. Vin found himself in the unusual position of being pushed back, not by a kindred or other creature of the night but apparently by a mere mortal. Hope launched herself at the other hunter. Though Z and Vera were potential targets too, bitter experience had taught her that when hunters were concerned it was best to kill them first.

Crusader Sword - Society of Leopold
As the leaders, and now sole survivors of the Young Bloods gang within the complex, raised their weapons and backed towards the only exit, Mariel removed her blindfold. Both made the amateurish mistake of making eye-contact with her. "Wait..." she said. And they did.

The second of the hunters stepped towards Hope and drew twin swords from scabbards upon their back, rather than the twin SMG's at their side. Hope had to admit that this bastard was very skilled indeed. She dodged blow after blow, though each attempt at a counter-attack was fended off. Finally he slipped past her defences and the blades moved in a scissor like motion towards her neck. They were stopped in their progress by Hope's supernatural resilience and she gave silent thanks for the abilities for which her clan was infamous.

Vin found himself growing increasingly frustrated as his opponent continued to counter his attacks. Of more concern was the fact that none of the abilities fuelled by his vampiric vitae seemed to manifest in the presence of this foe. 

Vincent 'Vin' Ghast - Brujah
Skill Versus Skill
Fortunately for Vin, this strange power of his opponent had no effect on the Brujah's impressive levels of innate strength and power. It seemed that this contest would be one of skill versus skill.

As the battle raged behind her, Mariel had moved towards the leaders of the Young Bloods.

"Not nice being the slave of another is it?" said Mariel, addressing the one who his gang called Z. "Fortunately for you I'm going to set one of you free." Z's momentary sense of hope was then immediately dashed. "Be a dear will you and shoot that bitch Vera in the face." Unable to resist the will of his former prisoner, Z raised his Micro-Uzi and emptied the twenty round magazine directly into the face of his beloved Vera.

Hope grabbed the hands of her opponent and gripped tightly. Unable to release their own weapons, the hunter could only watch in horror as Hope inexorable forced their arms back and then with a swift movement that caught her opponent quite by surprise, she chopped off their head with their own weapons.

Vin winced as his guard was bypassed and the crusaders sword caught him a glancing blow across the chest. He forced vitae to the wound to heal the damage but the cut refused to seal. As he pressed his attack once more, Hope moved in from the rear and sliced a claw across the back of the swordsman's leg. 

As his balance was disrupted, Vin struck down once more and managed to slice through his enemies armour and into the flesh of their shoulder. Whatever mystically abilities they possessed apparently had no power over the poison that coated the Brujah's signature blade. 

'The Finishing Blow...'
As the venom coursed through their veins they began to weaken as the paralysis it caused spread throughout their body. Taking no chances with such a dangerous foe, Vin promptly decapitated them.

Mariel meanwhile had reached into Z's shoulder holster and removed the .50 calibre Desert Eagle he kept within. Her first round went through his right knee, the second through his left. She then shot him in each shoulder, before putting another bullet through his stomach and a sixth into his groin. The seventh and final round in the magazine was put through the centre of his face.

Vera had a length of chain at her waist with a blade on one end and a selection of keys on the other. Z had another key on a leather cord around his neck.

"These better be the right keys after all the shit we just went through to get the fuckers..." quipped Vin. He also realised that if they weren't that he'd have to go back to plan 'A' and break the prisoners out by hand. Of course that was a much more viable option now that their were no enemies left within the bunker to ambush them while they were doing so.

Reinforced Shackles
"Let's get those fucking cells unlocked and get the hell out of this shithole." said Vin, picking at the wound in his chest that was still refusing to heal.

Without another word, the three kindred went to do just that.

The keys from Vera's chain unlocked the many shackles and heavy bars that secured the cells of the nine kindred prisoners of the Young Bloods. The keys possessed by 'Z' himself were the ones that allowed access to the cell of 'Romulus'.

Vin used his skills as a leader, supplemented by both natural and unnatural abilities of intimidation to 'encourage' the freed prisoners to follow him through the complex to the surface. Pleasantries could wait. Though they had exterminated the unbound ghouls within the bunker, there were still those gang members patrolling outside to consider. The ground in front of this base could easily become a killing field if they were somehow ambushed by a concerted volume of enemy firepower.

As they reached the entrance chamber where Eric was based, he greeted them and then informed the pair that he intended to search the complex personally for any information of use. With the base cleared of enemies he should be able to make a thorough search for any electronic devices or documentation within. Information was his business and this was too good an opportunity to pass up. If he could find anything that tied the former Prince Vannevar to this gang, it would help his employer Michael further undermine his reputation with the Camarilla.

Interlude - Ramirez
Jesus Ramirez - Ventrue
Seneschal to Salvador Garcia 
"What do you mean 'Carlyle's been whacked'?" Shouted Jesus Ramirez, at the unfortunate messenger. "He had nine fucking guards with him..."

Storytellers Note - This occurred last session.

"They drove a car through the wall, chopped everyone up and then torched the place..." summarized the kindred. "The ghoul patrols were killed outside, the kindred inside...well that's how it looks...

Garcia's right hand man was politically aware enough to tell when someone had information they were reluctant to share.

"...and?..." prompted Ramirez.

"The car wasn't completely destroyed in the blaze. It was registered in L.A. and stolen of the Baronies there..." Jesus immediately suspected that the answer was going to point to Marius's domain of Downtown. Murder by sword was the hallmark of that bastards most favoured ghoul assassin. He decided to ask the question anyway. "Which one?.."

"Whittier, or El Hermandad as it is now..."

Gloria Martinez - Brujah
Baron of Whittier and El Hermandad
Ramirez closed his eyes for a moment and gathered his thoughts before laying out his requirements. 

He had been so focussed on the idea that 'The Fixer' would be responsible for any threat, that this revelation had thrown him slightly. He made a mental note to avoid making such presumptions in the future.

"Get anyone in the area of the motel who owes us favours to acquire all the police reports, camera footage, anything that helps identify the perpetrator or perpetrators. Any information on the incident comes straight to me. That same list applies to anything we can discover about the place the ram car was stolen from..."

The kindred nodded, then left.

Now Ramirez had the difficult task of telling Garcia that his childe had been destroyed, possibly at the hands of one of the others of his brood. On second thoughts, maybe he'd keep that suspicion to himself for now. Gloria couldn't be that reckless, surely?

Then again, she had effectively betrayed him in order to preserve and elevate her own position so why not assassinate a potential rival?

He reached for his phone and then hesitated. This was something he needed to do in person.

Scene Twenty Six - Aftermath
Arla Hartley - Ventrue
The Circulatory System, L.A. 'Farm'
Outside the bunker there is a standoff between fire teams belonging to Louis Fortier's ghoul army and the security forces of the Circulatory System.

Scattered between them are the corpses of at least two dozen Young Bloods bikers and the wreckage of their vehicles. It is difficult to tell which of the opposing factions was responsible for the carnage but it is safe to say that the unbound ghouls are now no longer a threat to anyone.

Fortier's people have the numbers, Marcelina's have the edge in firepower. As you have never seen Arla Hartley, who currently leads them, use her disciplines, you cant be sure who has the edge between her and Catherine DuBois who is leading the forces, though the smart money in a straight fight must surely go on the most favoured and ruthless childe of the Baron of West L.A.

"Two of the kindred you have rescued, you will hand over to us. The rest you can have. Their importance is minimal, but the Nosferatu Micky Malone and the Ventrue Ricardo Beltane will be leaving with us. We have no desire for conflict with you all but we will do so if we have to..."

At this moment an armoured military helicopter emerges from behind the trees and hovers over Arla's forces position. Two gunners sat behind rotary cannons mounted in the passenger section, swivel their weapons in the direction of Louis's forces. The bribes necessary to enable a military helicopter to fly across Los Angeles fully armed hardly bear thinking about.

Arla continues "Is it really worth your destruction to protect two kindred who you didn't even know existed an hour ago?"


Michael sat in the back of an Airbus H160 Helicopter that Marius had borrowed from Aegis Acquisitions, the legitimate wing of his own business empire. The transport was luxurious but more importantly it was very fast.

Eleanor 'Ellie' Moreno - Ghoul
Agent of Fiorenza Savona
The Baron of the North-East was accompanied by Marius himself and the three Sweepers from the Barony of Downtown, known collectively as 'The Circle'.

The pilot was an agent of Fiorenza Savona that acted as Marius's chauffeur named Eleanor 'Ellie' Moreno. Though her main role was to spy on Marius for Fiorenza, like other similar agents she had many skills which made her useful to keep around. The fact that she was also a pilot was a surprise to Michael though.

Michael had been unable to contact any of his people and therefore hoped that he was in time. As they observed the stand-off below, Ellie pointed out the military helicopter.

"There's no room to land here, and I'd also rather not do anything that might antagonize something armed with miniguns."

The passengers of the transport had to admit that she had made two excellent points.

"Take Michael to the nearest clearing you can land in." stated Marius. "Me and The Circle will announce your imminent arrival..." With that he opened the door and stepped into the night sky, followed by his sweepers. The four creatures that landed looked very different from the kindred who had, a moment ago, exited the chopper.

Marius Walker - Gangrel Elder
'Shape of the Beast’s Wrath'
A mastery of the signature discipline of his own Gangrel clan known as Protean and that of the Tzimisce, called Vicissitude enabled Marius to adopt a fearsome warform. Some of these talents were shared by his bloodline, though to a significantly lesser level of potency.

Marius now stood some nine feet tall, his form had become an obscene hybrid of kindred, bat and wolf, bony armour plates protected vulnerable spots on his body. Powerful wings protruded from his back and had enabled him to land with surprising grace considering his bulk. His enforcers had adopted similar batlike forms, though a mere seven-feet tall and lacking much of the armour of their grandesire they nonetheless created a significant impression as they glided into place behind Marius.

Understandably, the focus of both forces and the emerging prisoners was now upon the newcomer's, rather than each other.

"Michael is on the way." he announced. "I'm here to make sure nobody does anything stupid till he gets here to begin the negotiations."

Marius's Sweepers had formed a perimeter around him, but neither Vin nor Hope believed he needed their protection.

Catherine indicated to her own ghouled army that they could lower their weapons. Arla's forces reciprocated but only after their leader prompted them. The helicopters weapons were still pointed conspicuously at Catherine's forces. A fact that wasn't lost on those in their sights.

Scene Twenty Seven - Impasse
Michael Tomassio - Toreador
'Supernaturally Charismatic...'
As Michael approached the scene he instinctively boosted the supernatural talent known amongst kindred as 'Presence'. He never turned the passive levels of this ability off, seeing it less as a 'power' and more a reflection of the fact that he deserved to be adored. In this situation he knew that he would need to be at his most charismatic to stop this stand-off becoming a massacre.

"We seem to be at quite an impasse..." began Michael as he casually polished his glasses before turning towards the Circulatory System. "...but turning up to an event to which you have no invite is extremely poor etiquette. I presume you have a reasonable explanation?"

Michael was already aware of their reasons but didn't want to tip his hand to early. He had no reason to doubt Marius's intelligence regarding the two kindred he knew that The System wanted, but that particular revelation could wait until it benefited him the most.

When no explanation was quickly given, Michael continued.

"It's obvious that there is something here of importance to you. Perhaps I can help you locate whatever it is? Though as you can see all my operatives have liberated from this bunker are the kindred prisoners that were our stated goal and their freedom is and was always my only concern."

Marcelina Black - Ventrue
The Circulatory System, L.A. 'Farm'
Michael could tell that he'd made Arla nervous, which confirmed what Marius had told him and what he had already theorized before the operation had even begun. Unsure about whether she was nervous of him or fearful of failing her boss Miss Black, he decided to labour the point a little.

"As such, they, like the Anarchs of the Free States, should be able to enjoy their newfound liberty without interference. Of course as the Circulatory system deals in mortal vessels, not kindred, I'm not sure how they could possibly fit into your plans..."

As he might have done in her position, Arla attempted to put a spin on her reasoning to make it seem like she was doing them a favour.

"We are here to help, not hinder. We have considerable experience with transportation and merely wish to assist those far from their homes to return to the safety of their own havens."

Michael decided to play along for a moment. "Really? Which kindred specifically did you have in mind?"

"One resident of San Diego and another of San Francisco. Their names are Micky Malone and Ricardo Beltane as I told those here before your arrival. However if you have your own plans to return them then I merely ask that you mention the part The Circulatory System played in their rescue?" Michael noted the slight surprise on the faces of the two kindred mentioned. It was obvious to Vin and Hope who were closer to the named parties that neither had any real desire to leave their rescuers.

Michael decided to be conciliatory. But just a little.

"Of course. Your role will be adequately described. Of course it's a little hard to concentrate with the noise of a helicopter hovering over my head."

Taking the hint, Arla gestured for the hovering vehicle to depart. Michael doubted that it had gone far, but not having the weapons pointed in their direction was definite progress. Deciding to take somewhat of a risk, but a calculated one, Michael walked over to Arla and spoke to her in a quiet tone that the others would be hard-pressed to hear.

"If I can ever help you personally, do not hesitate to ask. My position as arbiter of the Anarch Council gives me considerable influence to help those I consider to be my friends." he left it unsaid that the opposite was also true. He was sure Arla was intelligent enough to realise that.

A Kindred of 'The Circle' - Monstrous Bat Form
Michael turned to see that Marius was also approaching. As he drew near to her he leant forward and gently placed a claw under her chin, angling her head in his direction despite it being obvious that she wanted to look anywhere but into his monstrous visage. "Tell Marcelina I'm very disappointed to have to come all this way to assist Michael to resolve an issue that should never have come up in the first place." he then turned his back on her and the forces at her disposal, as his own Sweepers moved into place behind him, leaving Michael alone with her once more.

"This might be a good time for you to depart."

It was obviously not really a question and without another word, Arla headed back to her command vehicle and withdrew her forces. Michael doubted that her boss Marcelina Black would be pleased with her for returning empty-handed, but that was her problem, not his.

"That was a little wordy, but you got to the point eventually." said Marius to Michael as he approached. Michael smiled before responding. "I don't think you're in any position to lecture me on theatrics when you decided to land in the middle of a tense stand off in the form of a nine foot tall bat..."

Michael was rewarded with a rare laugh from the Baron of Downtown.

Now they just needed to deal with their new guests and a bunker full of very dead ghouls.

Storytellers Conclusions
I sometimes 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 climactic battle with the Hunters went a bit quicker than I expected but as both the kills were quite cinematic I guess it could have gone a lot worse. I also took some liberties with the 'True Faith' powers possessed by those self-same vampire hunters, because it's my chronicle so I can, lol.

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, Meredith Lang is Jaime Murray, Celeste Fleming is Alexandria Daddario, Eugene 'Romulus' Bargen is Shia LaBeouf, Mariel St. John is Kate Moss, Jesus Ramirez is Javier Bardem, Gloria Martinez is Ariadne Artiles, Arla Hartley is Claudia Black and Marcelina Black is Carrie Anne Moss.

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.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts with Thumbnails