Friday 15 April 2022

Vampire the Masquerade - V5 - Session One Hundred and Twelve - 'Hunters Hunted' (Epilogue)

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 OneTwoThree, Four and Five

The PC's
Michael Tomassio - Toreador, 'Baron of the North East'
Vincent 'Vin' Ghast - Brujah, 'Constable'
Hope Romero - Gangrel, 'Census Taker'
Eric 'Splinter' 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).

A week has gone by since Marius and a force consisting of his three most dangerous sweepers aka 'The Circle', two of the Wilds Pack, namely Lola and Lezebel, 'The Butchers', and his grandechilde Rebecca and her pack had wiped out a security contingent of The Circulatory System. This happened after Michael was fired upon by the bodyguards of Arla Hartley, lieutenant to The Systems leader, Marcelina Black. When Marius was caught in the crossfire, his followers immediately wiped out those present, and the fate of the rest was more or less sealed at that point.

On Marius's return, he simply told Michael that the problem had 'been resolved'. Not a single vehicle, or security team member were ever seen again. As far as the kindred of Los Angeles, The Circulatory system and all but Michael, Marius and Catherine are concerned, Arla Hartley was destroyed too.

Scene One - The Survivors
Michael had accompanied Lady Lucy and Ricardo Beltane back to the relative safety of Los Angeles, in Marius's Aegis owned helicopter. Though technically speaking Michael hadn't actually asked permission to do so, he'd just borrowed it while 'the Fixer' was busy massacring the Circulatory system's agents.

Aegis Acquisitions - Executive Transport

The pilot had no reason to doubt Michael's word, presuming that as he'd arrived by helicopter that that would be how he would be leaving.

Storytellers Note - Not even sure how I let this happen without a single dice roll. Apparently I now just presume that mortals just believe anything Michael tells them...

'Lady' Lucy - Toreador
Resident of San Fernando
'Lady' Lucy had been given permission by Isaac to take up residence in San Fernando, where she is currently renting a luxury apartment. Her future plans weren't firm, but Isaac had made it clear that she was welcome to acquire a permanent residence there if she so desired. 

In apparent gratitude to her rescuer, she had offered to invest in the building of a Galerie Sanguine' in Hollywood after the potential idea was bought up casually in conversation during their initial journey. 

A single phone call by Ricardo Beltane to his sire resulted in him being picked up by private plane within the hour. Before leaving he gave his assurances that he would mention the part played by The Circulatory System in his rescue, but the bulk of the gratitude for his release would be attributed to Michael.

Beltane had also hinted that should Michael wish to open a gallery in San Francisco, he would ask his sire to facilitate the arrangements and smooth over any reticence by the Primogen about Michael's status as an Anarch. He seemed confident that this would be all that would be necessary.

With sponsors and allies to assist in the opening of two new galleries, Michael has given his approval for Mr Hertz to begin facilitating the creation of these new outlets.

Tara Kearney - Brujah
Baron of San Diego
After discussion with Michael, Marius has arranged transportation for the Nosferatu 'Sticky' Malone to return to San Diego. Like Beltane, he is giving the majority of the credit for his liberation to Michael and his followers. 

Baron Tara herself was apparently particularly happy to see his return as now his sire could get back to the important business of providing her with useful information rather than searching for news of his childe. Mr Hertz has suggested that this might be a good location for a fourth Galerie sanguine franchise in order to give them a foothold in another Anarch domain.

The other Nosferatu, 'Lumpy' Llewellyn, had met with Gary Golden and his request to reside in the Ancient Warrens below Hollywood, with his old acquaintance Alonzo, had been granted. Those in the know have hinted that Gary was reluctant at first, but that Alonzo vouched for Llewellyn personally. Perhaps the pair were better acquainted than was thought.

'Hachet' has been reunited with his childer and has been granted feeding rights in Santa Clarita by Marius. This boon had also been extended to his fellow prisoner Lily, a Caitiff who he had now effectively adopted. It had been agreed that in return he would join Lola and Layla Mae in patrolling the surrounding wilderness and keep track of any kindred travelling to, or from San Jose via those routes. With seven kindred now residing here it is becoming less a protectorate and more a barony in it's own right, though population count has never been the deciding factor in such decisions.

Lorna Davies and Bryan Greene - Caitiff and Brujah

The biker Bryan Greene and his new companion, Lorna Davies, have taken up temporary residence in the dayrooms of The Last Round as guests of Nines Rodriguez, until they decide what to do next. It is likely that they will move on though Nines had been speaking to them of the benefits of the Anarch lifestyle and can be very convincing. Of the weaselly looking individual that disappeared as soon as the group left the Young Bloods bunker, there had been no word. Presumably he was making his own way back to wherever he was from.

Mariel St. John - Ventrue
Mistress of Baron Louis Fortier
Mariel St. John had returned to Fortiers mansion and has immediately returned to her role as Louis's mouthpiece. However the role now seemed to be shared between her and Elena. Mariel dealt with kindred, while Elena dealt with the mortals. 

Those unaware of her ordeal would see no difference in her, though those who were might detect certain indicators of hyper awareness.

The Circulatory System itself has remained quiet on the matter of its recent losses, but repercussions of some description are expected. Marcelina Black has had a meeting with Myranda of The Wilds Pack, in whose domain her 'Farm' resides, in order to discuss the events of that night. 

The System seems to currently be operating in a 'business as usual' fashion, though what is happening behind the scenes is anyone's guess.

Myranda, somewhat surprisingly, seems to have accepted whatever excuses Marcelina has made, and whatever they were seem to have placated Marius too. Unfortunately there's not much the coterie can do to discover what was said without asking Marcelina, Myranda or Marius.

Interlude - The Shattered Spear
Michael had become curious about this organisation that stood behind Marcelina Black and apparently held such power. He had contacted his acquaintance and information source, Carmelita Neillson, in order to obtain what information he could on this possible threat to his goals.

"The Shattered Spear has existed far longer than the Camarilla, or so their adherents claim. They bear the Blood of Artemis Orthia, first and most beloved of Ventrue’s childer and Goddess of ancient Sparta, who led the vanguard against the Brujah of Carthage and fell battling the darkness that seized that city in its vile grip. The Spear operates in secret, each warrior standing firm against the tide of Gehenna and the diabolical forces that lurk outside of civilised Kindred society — for who better than to fight the savage demon-worshipers and blooddrunk diablerists than the Clan of Kings?"

Storytellers Note - More detailed information on what Carmelita Neillson shared with Michael on The Shattered Spear can be found HERE.

Scene Two - Contraband
All the more dubious vampire hunting equipment that the Second Inquisition had equipped the Young Bloods with had been crated up and shipped to one of Mr Hertz's warehouses by Aegis Logistics including some of the SI's kindred detecting Xscopes. 

Catherine DuBois - Ventrue
Mistress of Baron Fortier
Though the quantities seemed about right it was entirely possible that Catherine DuBois or Marius had taken a small selection of items for themselves.

"Daniel would love this stuff." commented Hope. 

The stockpile consisted of equipment with the sole purpose of hunting kindred, or 'blank-bodies' as the Inquisition called them, and would be certain to create a great deal of suspicion should their possession of them become common knowledge.

There were two dozen stake launchers with universal mounts, though they looked like they were primarily designed to fit most American military rifles such as m16's, m4's, and the like. They seemed to have been based on grenade launchers though the projectiles were propelled by compressed air rather than any kind of explosive propellent. The projectiles themselves were fairly standard though had been manufactured to a high standard of precision and uniformity. That aside they were still fundamentally pointed bits of wood with all the aerodynamic issues that you'd expect. Using one with any accuracy would take practice.

Hope had retrieved an unusual double-barrelled version from one of the Society of Leopold hunters and had decided to keep it rather than add it to the stockpile. There were also several crossbows, though presumably these were weapons used by The Young Bloods before they obtained the more sophisticated devices.

M4 Carbine with Converted Stake Launcher

On the subject of stakes, they had also discovered thirty stake-tipped batons made of snakewood, one of the worlds hardest woods. They had also salvaged several more from gang members who had been issued them, but fortunately had lacked the skills necessary to use them with any success against Vin and Hope.

The real treasure though was not a weapon, but a technological device. Or to be more exact, three devices. At their core, these XScopes used simple technology. From a distance they determined if someone was living or dead by looking for a heartbeat, respiration, and body heat. 

These would certainly come in useful if installed at locations where the coterie wished to keep track of just how many kindred used that facility. The Succubus Club sprang to mind.

Though the coterie had encountered these devices before, these seemed to be more advanced and could hopefully give them greater insight into how exactly the Second Inquisition hunted their kind.

The final items were nets made from chain and lined with spikes. These nets had attachments to allow them to be attached to, and then dragged behind, vehicles. These looked too professional to have been thrown together by the Young Bloods. They had never heard of the S.I. using these so they may have been manufactured specifically for gang by them.

Once the items were catalogued, Mr Hertz immediately moved them to a different facility. Michael didn't trust Marius and so wanted them somewhere that only the coterie was aware of. Not only did this ensure their safety but prevented kindred who were aware of them using that knowledge for blackmail purposes.

Marius's clean-up crews had gathered together the more conventional of the weaponry and had taken it to one of their own facilities "for sorting...". Though these were to be divided too, they doubted they'd ever see them again.

For her share of the spoils, Catherine DuBois has simply asked to be informed of anything discovered amongst the recovered files that may effect the security of Fortiers domain. As this was being sorted through by Eric and Zipper, what the coterie shared was, of course, entirely up to them. However, they decided that should it ever come to light that information of use was withheld, then Baron Fortier might well react badly. Regardless, it seemed that the recovery of Mariel and revenge against the gang was all that Fortier ultimately required.

Scene Three - Z1PP3R and 5PL1NT3R
Recovered Cell Phones
A selection of files, letters, forms and similar paperwork had been delivered to Eric 'Splinter' Moore and 'Zipper' in a selection of file folders, boxes and other containers

The clean-up teams seemed to have taken Eric's request for "....anything that might have some useful info on it..." quite literally. This delivery also included a server tower, a dozen hard drives, four personal laptops and a box crammed full of miscellaneous phones, all salvaged by the sanitation teams of Aegis Reclamations. At first glance this looked to Eric like every bit of computer tech and paperwork that was in the facility, and he was reasonably sure he had indeed been given everything.

A process of elimination had significantly reduced the pile of paperwork and computer hardware salvaged from the Bunker though that still left a great deal to sort through. 

'Rose' - Caitiff
Sire of 'Zipper', Zippers 'Caregiver'
Zipper and Eric's rivalry had ensured that both were exceptionally thorough as both wished to be the one who discovered the most important piece of data. Eric also noticed that Zippers sire, lover and partner in crime, 'Rose', was rarely far from Zippers side. Though a fairly useful assistant when it came to technical matters, Eric was convinced that she was a bit on the crazy side. He was also sure that without her, Zipper would fall apart.

A few initial discoveries have been made though whether they could be classed as useful was open to interpretation. 

The gang had several bank accounts, presumably to allow legitimate purchases, however the majority of the transactions were cash payments in and ATM withdrawals out, all via local banks. The combined accounts currently hold just over fourteen thousand dollars, which with the information they now possessed could be transferred or otherwise 'liberated'. Between the two hackers they had more than enough practice with hiding an electronic trail to be able to do so without fear of discovery.

They also noted that for a gang of murderous thieves and thugs they seemed to have a lot of religious pamphlets amongst their files. Some of these were quite old, dating back as far as 2004. Many of the more recent ones were from 'The Church of St. Joan.' This was the same name as had been stamped in the bibles they'd discovered in the armoury with the weaponry that they believed had been supplied to the gang by The Second Inquisition.

'Zipper' - Caitiff
Expert Hacker, Rival of Eric
Closer examination of the ledger of the gangs criminal activities revealed that much of their income came from demanding protection from various businesses in the surrounding area. Judging from the quantities demanded the pair were surprised that the area had any stores, garages or motels left open.

The Young Bloods drugs had arrived from various small time dealers and distributors. They did however receive one large shipment a month, via a dealer in San Francisco. Disappointingly his name wasn't mentioned and delivery times and locations varied considerably making the extrapolation of any pattern futile.

According to a ledger belonging to the now deceased gang leader 'Z', nearly all the local sheriff's and cops were on their payroll. Some of the names also had notes relating to family members locations making it likely that many were kept in line more by the threat of reprisal than the bribes themselves. The information was filed away for future blackmail purposes.

The spurious National Guard unit from which the gangs weapons were transferred, existed on paper only long enough for the weapons and equipment requisitions to be raised. It was then quietly 'disbanded'. Vannevar had obviously used this method to supply the gang when they were conducting operations on his behalf, but it seemed unlikely that he was aware of their connection to the vampire hunting Inquisition. The former Prince had many faults but he certainly wasn't an idiot.

Criminal Background Checks
They then hit a few dead ends as none of the gang members names they had found listed in the meeting room lead to useful leads. Their criminal records were varied but generally covered the usual range of violence and drug related offenses. None stood out as exceptional. From their phones they also learned nothing, other than the fact that none of the gang seemed to associate with anyone outside of it.

The laptops revealed something interesting. Several searches had been made on personal laptops relating to an abandoned monastery along the Los Angeles coast, by the Santa Monica mountains. It had been partly collapsed after an underground explosion some time in the early 2000's, but no explanation to who exactly had been beneath it or what they were doing had ever been adequately put forward. Some sort of smuggling operation was the general theory, but evidence was scarce.

The Society of Leopold Monastery
Further investigation by the hackers in relation to this screamed 'cover-up' to them as the pair unburied twenty year old files. The scene contained the remains of a weapon cache, there had been reports of gunfire just before the explosion, and several 'john doe' autopsy reports had also been quietly mis-filed of bodies recovered from the area. 

It looked to them both like someone's base of operations had been hit, and hit hard. What interest the Young Bloods had in this wasn't evident but as multiple different gang members had looked into the location, it must have had some importance to them.

The final part of their investigation was unrelated to files found at the bunker. Attempts to discover the identities of the three mysterious individuals who escaped the Bunker had proven to be frustrating. It was possible that they changed vehicles at some point, or more worryingly had enough influence to get camera footage lost or altered. Either way, this may be something that needed to be investigated in person, in the real world. This was something that Zipper had no interest in but that Eric had some experience with.

Scene Four - Returning Romulus
Eugene 'Romulus' Bargen - Toreador
Childe of Kingsley Barker
The current home of Romulus's sire was a modest sized but luxurious, top floor apartment, not far from the Art and Culture Centre in Hollywood. As Isaac had absolute control of his domain Michael and his entourage could only presume that he was there with the Barons permission.

They were buzzed into the lobby, and met at the door to the top floor apartment by a traditional English butler who introduced himself as 'James'. He escorted Romulus to one of the properties bedroom suites, before showing them into a stylish living room and office where they were met by Kingsley Barker.

The gratitude on his face for the return of his childe was clear to all present.

"I'm afraid I have no refreshments to offer you as this pleasure is somewhat unexpected. To be totally honest, I had given up any hope of Eugene's rescue."

"However you have my undying gratitude. If there is ever anything I can do to repay you then you need only give the word. My political influence is, I'm afraid, non existent, but I am moderately well thought of amongst the artistic communities and am independently wealthy so am not without my uses as a friend and ally."

Kingsley Barker - Toreador
Patron of the Arts
Michael could tell that he was vastly understating his influence, but imagined that this was out of modesty rather than an attempt to deceive them about what he had to offer in payment terms.

Michael discovered later that Isaac gave Kingsley full freedom to come and go as he pleased within Hollywood and that he was allowed to make any event arrangements or charitable donations that he wished. He had also helped with publicity for some events favoured by Isaac and so had some influence with the Baron of Hollywood too. 

He also learned that James was Kingsley Barker's ghoul and had been in his service for about seventy years. Though he was apparently a moderately capable bodyguard, his main skill was organisation. The Baron of the North East had filed the information away in case Kingsley might prove useful at a later date. 

He decided that asking for favours at the moment of his reunion with his long lost childe would be in poor taste.

"Please feel free to relax here as long as you wish, but if you'll excuse me, I wish to check upon my childe. Whenever you are ready, James will show you out.

Deciding to leave Kingsley and his childe to get reacquainted, Michael and his coterie gave their thanks and then left.

Interlude - Collaborator
Jonas had observed the little charade that his rescuers had put on in order to justify the massacre of The Circulatory system but had little interest in being at the whims of another, so had made his own way out of the area. Barstow was the nearest town to here and it was there to which he headed.

Barstow, California at Night

He was a petty thief and murderer, robbing gas stations and the like but had made the mistake of becoming predictable in his patterns. The Young Bloods had ambushed him and dragged him to the Bunker in chains. 

'Little' Lily - Caitiff
Betrayed by Jonas Holden
He now needed to get the hell out of the area before he was asked any tricky questions. He had cooperated with his captors in return for better treatment, specifically it was his information that led to the capture of 'Little' Lily, a kindred runaway who he had met briefly on his travels. Though he had many skills, lying wasn't one of them, and so avoiding questioning was of paramount importance.

Unfortunately it was this very haste that was to prove his undoing as he blundered into the trap set for him. The net wrapped around him, and entangled his limbs. The adhesive it was coated with had a distinctive smell and Jonas instinctively knew that it was flammable. Three figures emerged from the darkness but only the man in front spoke.

"Heading straight back to the hidey hole that you were captured from wasn't very smart Mr Holder. Yes, I know who you are and from whence you came. Perhaps if you're as cooperative with us as you were with the Young Bloods then we might be able to commute your sentence from certain destruction to merely probable destruction. Consider your options carefully, considering what flames do to your kind...well...most of your kind..."

Jonas observed his captors as best as he could from his position on the ground. 

The verbose one was wearing elaborate body armour and carried a variety of kindred hunting weapons, including a brace of wooden stakes inscribed with religious iconography.

The other two were dressed in more traditional military style body armour and carried conventional weapons, though included in their armouries were batons with wooden spikes on the ends.

The motorbikes that they has used for transportation were parked nearby.

Seeing little other option, the Caitiff prisoner chose his fate. "What do you want to know?"

"Let's get you somewhere a bit more private first. Then you can tell us all you know about the blank-bodies of Los Angeles and who exactly it was who went to such lengths to remove the Young Bloods from the chess board..."

Jonas didn't know much, but if it was going to buy him his survival, then he'd tell them whatever they wanted him to...

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....

This was a short session designed to tidy up a few loose ends, clarify some things and pave the way for the next story. To be honest this was a welcome break as our previous three or four sessions have been quite epic and sometimes I actually need sleep...

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, Hope is Deborah Ann Woll, Arla Hartley is Claudia Black, 'Lady' Lucy is Tessa Thompson is, Tara Kearney is Melissa Rauch, Lorna Davies is Sophia Bush, Bryan Greene is Joe Manganiello, Mariel St. John is Kate Moss, Marcelina Black is Carrie Anne Moss, Catherine DuBois is Margot Robbie, Marius Walker is Tony Curran, Louis Fortier is Eduardo Verastegui, Rose is Thylane Blondeau, 'Z1PP3R' is Johnny Galecki, Eugene 'Romulus' Bargen is Shia LaBeouf, Kingsley Barker is James Franco and 'Little' Lily is Kiernan Shipka,

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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