Friday 20 May 2022

Vampire the Masquerade - V5 - Session One Hundred and Fourteen - 'Methuselah' (Part Two)

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 OneTwoThreeFour and Five
Story Twenty Eight - 'Hunters Hunted' - Epilogue
Solo Session - 'The Salubri Tome'
Story Twenty Nine - 'Methuselah' - Part One

The PC's
Michael Tomassio - Toreador, 'Baron of the North East'
Vincent 'Vin' Ghast - Brujah, 'Constable'
Dr Daniel Matthews - Banu Haqim, 'Fixer'
Mr Hertz - Nosferatu, 'Mob Accountant'
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), Sex Trade.

Downtown Los Angeles at Night
The Barony of the Angel's, or Downtown as most still call it, has stabilised over the last two weeks, and many of the initial teething troubles have been ironed out.

With the number of Baronies sending their most charismatic recruiters into the bars and clubs of Downtown, some tensions are likely. Never one for complicated diplomatic solutions, Marius has put forward a simple one. Or more specifically, Victoria has put one forward on his behalf.

Each Barony is to specify exactly who they are allocating the role of 'recruiter' to, if anyone, and any representative who causes trouble will be prohibited from returning to the Barony. Any who resist eviction will be staked or destroyed, based on what's most convenient at the time. No action will be taken against the victim of any transgressions as Marius, according to Victoria, has stated that "...self defence is entirely acceptable if someone's fucking with you, or just run away and I'll fuck them on your behalf..."

Though the language of this proclamation was direct, it has been accepted as an effective albeit unsubtle solution.

Deacon, Brujah - Velme, Daughter of Cacophony

Other than a minor difference of opinion between Velme of El Hermandad and Deacon of The Crypts Sons at Club Zombie, there has been no trouble yet. This was dealt with by Fortiers 'Scourge', Joseph, with a warning to "Behave or leave..."

Baron Tomassio's decision to withdraw Vin and Hertz from their roles as advisors to the rebuilding Crypts Sons, to allow him to "develop his domain without interference...", has lessened the tensions between the North East, El Hermandad and The Crypts Sons by a considerable margin.

Scene Ten - Club Vesuvius 
Isaac Abrams - Toreador
Baron of Hollywood
Isaac Abrams, Baron of Hollywood was unfortunately unavailable to meet Michael. But as he had planned a trip to the area anyway he decided to pay a visit to Club Vesuvius as Velvet Velour and Michael got together often enough for it to seem natural. 

VV picked up a lot of information and was always happy to share it, though Michael liked to avoid giving her the impression that he only visited when he wanted something. After some time socializing and a feeding courtesy of one of the most beautiful of the clubs dancers, Michael raised the subject of VV's unusually busy schedule over the last few weeks.

"I've just been doing a bit of networking, that's all. Isaac said knowing too much would put me in danger, and he's never lied to me."

Michael was still concerned for Velvet's safety and told her that she merely needed to ask for his help and it was hers.

" I refused to involve you for the same reason, the chance of putting you in danger. Isaac accepted this as, between just us two, he wanted me to do something that may have endangered you. But the simple answer is, I don't know what he's up to and I won't ask him, not even for you. You wouldn't make me choose between you, would you?"

VV batted her eyelids, pouted, then gave Michael such a doe eyed looks of sadness that he couldn't bring himself to ask her more on the subject.

Velvet Velour - Toreador, Dancer and Owner of Club Vesuvius

After enjoying each others company for a few more hours, Michael made his apologies and left. On his way out he encountered his sister of the blood, Sofia, who had just finished an elaborate dance on the stage. She seemed somewhat evasive as if there was something she wanted to tell him, but for some reason was unable to do so.

"Everything's fine, 'brother'. Since you didn't want to involve me in your schemes, I've had to forge my own path. I bounce between here and doing some sweeper work for Isaac after the last one met their final death in that Camarilla assassination attempt."

Sofia Rivera - Toreador, Dancer at Vesuvius, Census Taker for Baron Abrams

Baron Abrams previous scourge, or sweeper as Anarchs called them, had been destroyed when multiple Camarilla gunmen opened fire on the Barons car. Though Isaac had survived and killed the attackers, his operative hadn't been so lucky. Though to be entirely accurate the attackers had actually killed each other at Isaac's command and the last had killed themselves, also at Isaac's whim.

Michael pushed a little, but still she told him nothing of note. "Just bits and pieces, nothing that would interest you..." was all she would say.

To Michael's acute sense of empathy she was very obviously lying but was seemingly completely immune to his attempts at persuasion, for now. She would, it seemed, need a few more attempts before she'd be ready to open up to him

Scene Eleven - Meredith
Meredith Lang - Gangrel
Pack Leader of Ennoia's Hunters
None of Marius's agents seemed willing to discuss The Sabbat with Daniel except for one.

Marius's grandechilde Meredith Lang, pack leader of Ennoia's Hunters, was at Hallowbrook discussing some matter with Victoria and he managed to get a few moments to talk with her. Fortunately she was also curious about him which gave the Banu Haqim an excuse to engage her in conversation.

"Daniel? The rehabilitated diablerist assassin? We were intrigued about why exactly our grandesire was helping you, he's not exactly the altruistic type." He revealed a little about himself in order to keep her interest and then turned the conversation to the Sabbat.

"The Sabbat in L.A.? There's a few of their packs here now. A few are after myself I imagine, some no doubt search for 'Vein' though they'll never find that sneaky bastard unless he wants to be found, the rest have learned from their previous failures and are looking for more efficient methods of undermining the Free States than a full frontal assault. If they had any idea how far into the Sabbat we've gotten they'd all shit themselves. They really thought it was just my pack..."

Daniel picked up on the name 'Vein', though he'd heard it before it was only in passing. No one was ever particularly complimentary about this individual which also intrigued Daniel.

'Vein' - Gangrel
'A two-faced backstabbing asshole...'
"Vein? He's a two-faced backstabbing asshole. Blanche hates him, though considering what he did to her family, I'm not surprised..."

His enquiries about what exactly 'Vein' had done were rebuked. "You're going to have to ask her about that yourself..." was Meredith's reply. "...but I wouldn't recommend it..."

Marius's connection to the Sabbat was also a subject of much interest to Daniel. He knew that Meredith had infiltrated the Sabbat for Marius, Xaviar or possibly both and so approached the subject carefully.

"Marius? He's hunting them down, though I'm sure you figured that out. No, we've no idea why he's so specific with his targets. Some of us believe he's trying to enhance his knowledge of some of the less common vampiric powers possessed by the Sabbat clans through devouring their souls, others suspect he's after infernalist infiltrators or perhaps it's that he just enjoys killing and can't go around destroying the locals now he has his base here. The truth is, we don't know, and none of us are stupid enough to ask...we do what were told and endeavour to ensure that we don't get moved to the 'useless except as lunch' part of the family. There's a reason who there's only seven of his original childer left, and why those seven mind their own fucking business..."

One thing in particular bothered him about this conversation. Mary, Tilly, Emmanuella, Eleanor, Talon...even if Myranda's diablerised sire Aviana was inexplicably included, that still only made six childer of which he was aware, not seven. Whether to probe deeper or not was a tough decision.

As the rest of Meredith's pack had arrived, he had no time to learn anymore, as she led them on some task for Victoria. He was actually almost glad. There was something about her that gave him, for want of a better term, the creeps. What she and Marius's psychotic Ghoul Victoria had planned wasn't something he wished to dwell on.

Scene Twelve - Marie, of House Carna
Eleanor Braun - Gangrel
Childe of Marius, 'Sorceress'
Michael arranged to have a catch up with Marie, via the Chantry liaison Eleanor Braun. Eleanor left them alone once the meeting had been arranged, apparently disinterested in what they might be discussing.

The Baron did note, with some surprise, that the Chantry residents, or possibly the Chantry itself, had provided Eleanor with rooms within. This was unusual as only the Houses of Clan Tremere were usually granted residence. Perhaps it was merely for the convenience of the various Houses, to have their liaison close by.

The Chantry itself was a strange structure which always seemed to contain exactly the amount if rooms and facilities required by its residents. Though Houses Carna, Tremere and Goratrix all had their own wings, many of the laboratories and social areas were communal. However any kindred who wandered into the area of another House began to feel quite uncomfortable.

Recently they had been joined by neonate from House Ipissimuss, and a whole new section of the Chantry was suddenly discovered. Michael, like many other kindred who visited the Chantry, always had the uncomfortable feeling that they were being watched. Not by the residents, but by the building itself.

Marie - House Carna
The Consolidated Chantry of L.A.
The section of the Chantry occupied by House Carna was decorated in contemporary fashion and the arcane symbolism and ornaments also reflected a more modern approach to Blood Sorcery, though Pagan imagery was also common.

The meeting room at its centre was dominated by a large portrait of Carna, the Princess Witch and head of House Carna. It was here that Michael met Maria.

Amongst the casual conversation engaged in, the subject of the new recruits is broached.

"I suppose as Arbiter of the Anarch Council you have the right to know a little about the new recruits..."

"Ashley Schneider, was a former student of Amanda 'Mandi' Mcbride, though he knew her by the name Arethusa. Having somehow survived the purge of the Tremere antitribu of the Sabbat, he has traded his skills amongst various Sabbat Packs for the last few decades. He seems to be without any real belief in what is, in his opinion, the Sabbats inexorable movement towards a suicidal choice between dying in the middle east or dying at the hands of the Second Inquisition due to their lack of adherence to the Masquerade. He has therefore re-joined his former mentor in the hope of an actual future.

Vanessa Rubeus - House Carna
Chantry Regent
"'Ruby' has ensured that he's free of any blood bonds to The Sabbat so we'll have to see how that goes..."

Michael would have to make some enquiries about this individual via his own agents. It was not above the Sabbat to I infiltrate one of their own into an existing organisation. The Crypts Sons were proof of that.

The second of the new recruits also raised some concerns.

"Martin Franckel's sire was one of the rare Anarch Tremere that existed before the shattering of the Pyramid, though the majority of his training in recent years has been as a research assistant of sorts to Luna Demian of House Tremere. Curiosity about what secrets could be discovered by studying under the practitioners of four different Houses, led Martin to ask permission from Luna to study at The Consolidated Chantry. I imagine that as Luna's goal has been to strengthen ties between her Chantry and ours, this seemed like an excellent way of doing so. She gets a reliable liaison between the two Chantries, and Martin might actually learn something too."

This increasingly close relationship between the Chantry in Los Angeles and the one in San Francisco, would need to be monitored.

He made a little more small talk over a somewhat generic glass of blood wine, while waiting to be escorted from the Chantry. The creation was of poor quality when compared to some of Leanna's excellent vintages. But then Marie had always been more for quantity over quality when it came to the Blood Sommelier's art.

Scene Thirteen - Franchise
Reuben Hart - Ghoul of Mr Hertz
Boss of 'The Apostles'
Mr Hertz had being given permission to establish several franchises of the Galerie Sanguine around Los Angeles and perhaps beyond. 

Though Michael's focus was somewhat different than his own, Hertz was reasonably sure that he could fulfil Michael's artistic aspirations as well as his own need to launder money from the coteries many criminal operations. The criminal gang known as 'The Apostles', a name that Mr Hertz wasn't keen on but had inherited with the gang, ran most of the organised crime in Pasadena and much of that in Glendale too. Though originally only involved in the less profitable aspects of the drugs trade, Mr Hertz had expanded their influence considerably. His standard fee as an 'accountant' was two percent of the profits he made and he applied the same rule to his duties organising these criminals on Michael's behalf. This meant that the organisation generated more cash than he could currently launder safely.

After the abandonment of Los Angeles by the Camarilla infiltrators, several of the construction sites they had left became available to acquire at bargain rates. Though many Baronies were more focussed on rebuilding their strength, the North-East had survived relatively unaffected and so Hertz had got the drop on many of them when it came to acquiring the assets left behind.

He now had land, much of which had nearly completed buildings already on them, in Anaheim, Burbank, Covina, Long Beach, South Central L.A., and Whittier. Michael had also obtained a pledge of financial assistance from three kindred, recently rescued from captivity in the bunker of the unbound ghoul gang known as the Young Bloods bunker. 

'Lady' Lucinde - Toreador
Investor in 'The Galerie Sanguine'
Lady Lucy had offered to help set up a gallery in Hollywood, Ricardo Beltane's sire Patrick Hodge had claimed to be able to smooth over any difficulties to opening a franchise in the Camarilla domain of San Francisco, and the Nosferatu 'Sticky' Malone's return to San Diego had pleased his sire Blackwell, which had in turn ingratiated Michael to the cities Baron, Tara Kearney. Mr Hertz had continued these negotiations on the coteries behalf and was very close to closing deals on those in San Francisco and San Diego. Despite this, Hertz decided that Hollywood would be first. 

The site had been virtually completed and needed negligible investment to convert to it's new purpose, Michael was on excellent terms with it's Baron and, of most importance to his accountants mind, Hollywood was full of people with too much money. This meant mysterious purchases involving great deals of cash were easy to fake without anyone becoming suspicious.

He had, however, come across a surprising impediment to his progress. Financial organisations under the control of Baron Isaac Abrams, with whom he could usually deal without issue were becoming trickier to interact with. Closer inspection of their finances, using less than legal means, seemed to indicate that they were in the process of becoming the victims of a hostile financial takeover.

He decided to look into this a little deeper for a night or two before passing this information to Michael. It might not be important. At least that was what Mr Hertz hoped. Anyone capable of forcing a takeover on businesses controlled by the Baron of Hollywood would need to have a lot of money and a lot of power.

Scene Fourteen - A Death in the Family
Gloria Martinez - Brujah
Baron of El Hermandad
Gloria Martinez and Allison Maller had been consistently unavailable. The coteries major 'in' with the pair had always been Daniel due to his helping of Allison against Amethyst and his friendship with Gloria's lieutenant, Leo Frost.

Without Daniel, leveraging a meeting was proving to be difficult. Though the responses had changed from 'too busy' to 'when I have a moment' at about the same time that news of the withdrawal of his people from Hank's domain became common knowledge.

Though the Barons weren't forthcoming, he did however manage to get a few moments with Velme as they visited the Succubus Club quite often.

After a pleasant discussion on classical music, Michael steered the conversation towards the childer of Garcia and their objections to the Arbiter of the Anarch Council having greater powers. He also voiced his suspicion that his assisting of Hank Boyd, Baron of the Crypts Sons was making the situation worse.

"You're right of course, though in all honesty Gloria inherited the rivalry with the Crypts Sons when she took control of El Hermandad, and is only going through the motions to keep the rank and file happy. Allison is going along with it as a show of unity with Gloria."

Carlyle - Brujah
Childe of Salvador Garcia, Destroyed
Michael asked about the third of Garcia's childer, Carlyle. Though he was curious about the rumours of him heading towards Los Angeles, as an emissary of sorts for Salvador himself, he wasn't overly concerned. 

It was Salvador Garcia who wielded the real power and influence. The Toreador Baron was also well versed enough on Garcia's own literary works to be able to say the right things if forced into a debate. Turning an opponent's arguments against them was a talent of Michael's.

"Carlyle? You haven't heard? Well I guess it's not something that they wanted broadcast about. He's met his final death, assassinated by some team of exotic weapon experts apparently. His enemies in Chicago are denying having anything to do with it, Marius looked genuinely surprised when he was accused of been involved and there's fingers being pointed at Gloria and Allison for some reason.

"Either way, Garcia won't be coming to L.A. until its resolved. Travelling distances is already difficult enough for kindred without some unidentified kill-team being added to the mix.

Michael had to admit he'd probably have blamed Marius too, though given the extensive use of blades that had been mentioned, he might even have asked Daniel where he was that night.

Whoever the culprit or culprits may have been, if their aim was to keep Garcia out of L.A., then they had succeeded.

Scene Fifteen - Road Trip
The drive out to the location where Eric lost the three mysterious escapees from the Young Bloods Bunker was uneventful.

Aegis Construction - Weld Team
As promised by Marius, the Bunker had been welded shut and the area in front showed little sign of the battle that took place there. The entrance from the Bunker to the escape tunnel had also been welded shut though the tunnel itself still existed. With some effort the hacker dragged his bike partway up the slope and then headed into the cave and then, with little night remaining, slept out the day in the tunnel.

He was relieved on awakening to discover the motorbike was where he had left it. The young Nosferatu was no tracker, but the area looked undisturbed which was also reassuring.

He followed the trail back to where it met the road and then checked on the satnav for the fastest route back to the Church of St. Joan. Eric's own satellite navigation program was designed by himself and added a lot more information than a commercial version would provide. He checked several other ways that they could have travelled, but as he only had until morning, time constraints meant that he could only really check one and he figured 'get the fuck back to safety' would be their priority. Especially if the suspicions about their identities were correct.

As he travelled, he made notes of any camera's, wi-fi hotspots, cell towers, etc. That he passed so as to cross check them later if possible. His navigation software also recorded a great deal of information too.

This admittedly was going to be a lot of tedious grunt work, but what the hell, it's not like he had anything else to do. He was also being paid very well for his efforts.

Eric Moore - Nosferatu Hacker, Searching Through Files

The next evening he began to wade through hundreds of hours of camera footage provided for him by Bertram Tung as well as gigabytes of information he'd personally acquired. Hopefully it would be worth the effort, as well as the bunch of favours he now owed Mr Tung...

Scene Sixteen - Damsel
Damsel - Brujah
'Den Mother', Nines Crew
Damsel met Michael, not in the Last Round, but instead in a dayroom cunningly concealed beneath a homeless shelter. It was basically appointed but could comfortably hold a dozen kindred if necessary. None of the sounds from above penetrated the rooms below so presumably the opposite was also true.

"There's more of these in Skid Row. Marius said he was expecting a big influx of kindred just wanting to meet Nines so he had them built during the refurbishment. There was only one originally but Nines wanted backups so now there's three."

Michael was curious about how exactly Nines had gotten Marius to approve such an expansion. According to Damsel, Nines had just asked and it had been done. The Baron couldn't help but be suspicious. Damsel continued.

"It was slow at first but now there's a fair turnover of Anarchs in and out of the area. Skelter is going crazy keeping track, and Nines is already fed up of having to see to the needs of an entire feeding ground. I guess it's a good example of 'be careful what you wish for'...don't get me wrong, the chance to inspire a new generation of free thinking kindred, escaping the oppression of their elders is great, I just think Nines underestimated all the bullshit that went along with the responsibility..."

'Nines' Rodriguez - Brujah
Defacto Baron of Skid Row
"Despite all that, Nines is in his element, talking about the Anarch's history, causes, you know, the usual..."

Michael politely asked how she herself was adapting. 

"I'm managing all the in's and out's, Skelter's making sure everyone behaves themselves. We've never really had an actual domain before, but it seems to be working."

"Marius basically handed over the area, shook Nines hand and then left. He hasn't interfered at all, which is more suspicious than when he does stick his fucking nose in, or maybe recent events have just made me fucking paranoid...."

Michael decided to offer his services as an assistant in the area of managing a domain, as he had considerable experience running not one, but multiple Baronies at the same time. 

Damsel said she'd put the idea to Nines and see what he thought of the idea. With Nines support, almost anything would be possible, thought Michael.

Marius himself, on the other hand, hadn't been available for nearly a week, though Michael doubted he'd share any more than he revealed at their last meeting.

Scene Seventeen - Trade Amongst Equals
Vin's relationship with 'the Blossoms', the Toreadors who ran the sex trade of Downtown, had gone from strength to strength. Though he had expected the transition of the domain to The Barony of the Angels to effect them negatively, it had actually made no difference whatsoever. Marius hadn't ceded his control in this trade to any of the newly granted feeding grounds within his territory and so for them it was business as usual. Well, almost.

The BDSM scene was something that they had minimal interest in and hadn't really developed. Marius had therefore granted some new recruits to his organisation control over these aspects of the cities sex industry. A woman called Monique Kim, had taken over the 'massage parlours' of Chinatown and several of the associated businesses with a darker aspect. She ran these with her childe Justine Chen.

Monique Kim, Toreador - Nina Barker, Serpent of the Light

Much of the Sadomasochism and bondage establishments now came under the influence of one Nina Barker. Though she still answered to the Blossoms, in the broadest sense she was considered mistress of her own establishments, as long as The Blossoms still got their cut, a percentage of which made it's way into Marius's coffers.

'The Rose' - Tzimisce
Facilitator of the Darkest Desires
Those whose tastes were so extreme as to be underground even in a scene that was itself considered underground, were catered to by the third of Marius's recruits, known only as 'The Rose'. This being a part of the sex industry that the Blossoms had no interest in whatsoever, she was left to her own devices and paid her tribute to Marius directly.

Vin had met only one of these, Justine Chen, who to his surprise seemed to be somewhat of an innocent and possessed of a naivete that was strangely attractive. He had taken an instant liking to her for no reason he could immediately discern. He soon learned that she had no great love for her sire, and that Monique used her almost exclusively as a lackey. 

He had therefore negotiated with Madame Kim to take Justine off her hands in return for some drugs and cash, both of which he had in considerable quantities but that the newcomer to the city required. He also gave 'The Blossoms' their usual percentage so as to maintain his profitable working arrangements with them. Though Hertz was aware of the transaction, Vin hadn't yet informed Michael. He'd have to get around to that. But later. 

While negotiating this deal he had picked up another interesting piece of information. It seemed that someone was actively taking over Hollywood's own sex trade and that Baron Abrams was apparently doing nothing to prevent it. Marius had been informed but as far as they could tell was neither surprised nor particularly interested having expressively told them to do nothing to interfere. Vin of course didn't answer to Marius and could interfere all he liked.
Justine Chen, Toreador, Childe of Monique Kim

The only thing that The Blossoms were sure of was that it was not of Marius's doing and they were sincere enough that Vin was inclined to believe them.

This, Michael needed to know sooner rather than later. If his Baron's Mawla was in trouble and had kept it from him, then this was information he needed to pass on. He'd let him know about Justine at the same time.

Scene Eighteen - The Liberated
Amara Martins - Duskborn
Baron of 'The Liberated'
Marius had implied that the objections to Michael as Arbiter from The Liberated were to do with his role in the crushing of the so-called Cross Rebellion. Marius had therefore quietly arranged a meeting with some of those within who owed him favours so Michael could see what might be done about this.

The conversations were, by necessity, brief as they had to be done without Amara or her close associates being aware of them.

'E' along with his sire Lily were what might be called harpies in a Camarilla domain. They were the trendsetters of the duskborn and were instrumental in deciding how much social status each of it's members had. Social trends existed everywhere, even amongst the downtrodden.

'E' had some useful insights into Amara Martins, Baron of 'The Liberated'.

"Yeah, Amara more or less thought Jenna Cross was the best thing, like, ever. She was on the way here to join up when Marius and your lot fucked them up. With her messiah missing, she's romanticized a lot of Jenna's bullshit...not sure what you can do about that to be honest...that's what makes martyrs so dangerous..."

Michael was also keen to know why he had been labelled the villain of these events when it was 'The Fixer' and his agents who had been responsible for nearly all the duskborn and caitiff destroyed.

'Lily' and 'E' - Duskborn
'The Liberated' - Harpies
"He's had one of his pets, you know Leanna, right?, teach our alchemists some stuff so Amara's, well, not exactly warming to him, but sees him as useful to keep on side, but you fired the first shot and that's all our lot seem to remember...even the slavery thing Marius did, seems to be, like, hardly even mentioned now..."

Michael got the impression that as defacto harpies for the duskborn that E and Lily had had something to do with the change of narrative. Perhaps it might be wise to get them on side too.

The last of these contacts, Julius, had left L.A. during Sebastian Lacroix's tenure as Prince of L.A. and returned during the Cross Rebellion, curious about their new leader Jenna Cross. The circumstances of his debt to Marius was unknown, but whatever it was must have been significant as his loyalty to The Fixer was quite apparent. As a mortal Julius had been a writer and continued to do so under a number of pseudonyms. His advice was, therefore, along those lines.

"H, h, h, have you thought about t, t, telling your own version? P, p, people like a good s, s, story. Maybe g, g, gi, give it a more positive, t, tw, twist?"

Michael had to agree that that wasn't a bad idea, not bad at all in fact. Now he just needed to plan the best narrative to achieve his aims.

Interlude - The Water Rats
Shantelle - Gangrel
Leader of 'The Water Rats'
"Are you sure about this?" asked Erika

The leader of The Water Rats, and Erika's sire, Shantelle, answered the question honestly. 

"As sure as I'm likely to be. This is going to happen with or without us. With us it can go smoothly and no-one need ever know or get hurt. Without us, it'll happen over several dead bodies, ours certainly, Baron Caplan's almost certainly. Anyone else in the way is going to get fucked too and some of them we like..."

Harvey had been good to them, relatively speaking, and none of them felt great about sneaking around behind his back. Nonetheless Shantelle was right. Better to do it this way and ensure their Baron and his Baronies survival, rather than make a stand and be destroyed anyway.

Shantelle could see that her pack trusted her judgement, in spite of their doubts.

"Harvey may not like what we have done, when he inevitably finds out, but I'm assured he will understand. If not then the one who gave us this task has guaranteed us a home and his protection, either with him or another who will soon owe him a major boon."

They had enabled the mystery ship to bypass all the security precautions and paperwork and had cleared the area of any unwanted observers.

Two Mysterious Guests at The South Coast Docks

As the first passenger walked down the steps to the dock, the pack found themselves dropping to their knees and averting their eyes. Not even the strongest willed of them could fight the urge to supplicate themselves before this ancient creature.

An expensive limousine arrived at the docks a moment later. No security cameras recorded its arrival, nor would they see it leave. A handsome blonde haired chauffeur opened the door so as the two passengers could enter the vehicle, and then drove them away.

Kaya Grant - Brujah
The Water Rats, 'Muscle'
"What the fuck happened!" Growled Kaya, the Brujah 'muscle' of the pack, as she finally managed to get to her feet, her face and clothes dirty from where she had just prostrated herself.

"That..." replied Shantelle "... is why we're cooperating and not fighting. What the hell do you think we or Harvey could do against that kind of power? Nothing, that's what."

Kahu, Gangrel Mariner and guardian of the waters around the docks, moved quietly from his vantage point above a cargo container and dived into the nearby water. As one who had swam the darkest depths and seen things that others could only imagine, he thought himself beyond fear. He was wrong. 

Someone needed to know what had come to L.A. but who was there to tell? The Water Rats were correct, Harvey's pride would force him to attempt to interfere and that would inevitably lead to his destruction. Isaac Abrams, arguably one of the most powerful Barons in the city, was also involved as Kahu recognised the Limo as his new personal transport after the last had been shot to pieces by the Camarilla.
Kahu - Gangrel Aquarri, Beneath the Waters off the South Coast

This would take some thought. Making barely a ripple, he disappeared below the water and was gone in a moment. The depths were where he felt most comfortable. There he could consider what to do next.

Scene Nineteen - The West Coast
Ellie May Lee - Toreador
'The Commando Coterie'
Though getting a meeting with the Baron of Santa Monica had proven to be impossible, Michael had managed to 'bump into' Ellie-may Li, the Toreador leader of Therese's so-called commando coterie.

Ellie-May was a frequent visitor to the Succubus Club, though whether as a customer or a spy, was debatable. Nonetheless this meant that popping to Santa Monica to give her a VIP pass would rouse few suspicions.

"Who knows with Therese? If I had to guess? She probably doesn't think you're ruthless enough to guide a council. Therese is all business, and presumably she sees your more emotion based methodology to be a sign of weakness."

This made sense to Michael but doing something about it was problematic. Much of the reason why he had been able to manoeuvre into positions of power and influence lay around the fact that he sounded reasonable, was relatively apolitical and always maintained sufficient plausible deniability to mitigate any blame that came his way. An aggressive approach may well ingratiate himself with Therese while simultaneously alienating his existing allies.

Therese had only minimal interest in L.A. now that The Asylum clubs had gone both national and international. As she now had influence on a much larger scale, the petty problems of the City of Angel's were of much less significance to her.

This made it difficult to decide just how much importance he placed on gaining her approval. 

As Baron Voerman's territory of Santa Monica was within that of Louis Fortier, Baron of West L.A., he was the next logical port of call.

Louis was busy with some political scheming and so wasn't able to see Michael. Catherine, seemingly still grateful for the coteries aid in rescuing her sister of the blood, had no issues with him speaking to Mariel and even made an effort to be vaguely pleasant. Miss DuBois personally escorted him to meet Mariel, even dismissing the usually ever present ghoul security.

Mariel looked relaxed but Michael's empathic nature picked up the slight twitches and signs of hyper vigilance.

"Louis is going to take some convincing about the Arbiter role, but me and Catherine are working on him. Even Elena seems to approve of you so between the three of us we should be able to convince him...well, maybe not, but with any luck he'll agree just to stop us pestering him..."

Though not the shining endorsement from Louis he would have liked, it still moved him towards his goal of a united council. That is, a council United behind himself.

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....

I really wish the players would just pick one of the plots offered to them and run with it instead of involving themselves with absolutely every-bloody-thing.

Okay, maybe not. But it is hard work for me as I have to either work out every NPC's motivations or wing everything. I'm probably going to say I'll do the former, then end up doing the most Storytellers do.....

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, Deacon is Michael Ealy, Velme is Ruby Rose, Isaac Abrams is Gary Oldman, Sofia Rivera is Eliza Dushku, Meredith Lang is Jamie Murray, 'Vein' is Paul Wesley, Victoria Anne is Lilith May, Eleanor Braun is P.J. Harvey, Marie is Eva Green, Vanessa Rubeus is Leila Lunatic, Reuben Hart is Ray Liotta, 'Lady' Lucinde is Tessa Thompson, Gloria Martinez is Ariadne Artiles, Carlyle is Kirk Jones, Damsel is Irina Delnova, Armando 'Nines' Rodriguez is Luiz Carazo, The Blossoms are (Tayla Quintana is Alyssa Milano, Karla Bray is Rose McGowan and Lottie Noble is Holly Marie Combs), Monique Kim is  is Viann Zhang Xinyu, Nina Barker is is Angela Sarafyan, 'The Rose' is Penelope Cruz, Justine Chen is Joan Chen, Amara Martins is Indira Varma, 'E' is Patrick Swayze, Shantelle is Marsha Thomason, The 'Two Mysterious Guests' are Michael Douglas and Lucas Till, Kaya Grant is Cynthia Rothrock, Ellie-May Li is Bai Ling, Therese Voerman is Whitney Moore, Louis Fortier is Eduardo Verastegui, Catherine DuBois is Margot Robbie and Mariel St. John is Kate 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.

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