Friday, 3 June 2022

Vampire the Masquerade - V5 - Session One Hundred and Fifteen - 'Methuselah' (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 OneTwoThreeFour and Five
Story Twenty Eight - 'Hunters Hunted' - Epilogue
Solo Session - 'The Salubri Tome'
Story Twenty Nine - 'Methuselah' - Part OneTwo and Three

The PC's
Michael Tomassio - Toreador, 'Baron of the North East'
Dr Daniel Matthews - Banu Haqim, 'Fixer'
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), Child Abuse (Implied).

Daniel has been warned by Marius that their recent destruction of a Sabbat pack is likely to incite a response from the so-called Sword of Caine, as it may accelerate their timeline.

Of course, to defend the North East, Daniel would need to re-join his old comrades and also by necessity, his original role within the coterie.

Scene Twenty - Digital Footprints
Trawling through hours of surveillance camera footage and cell tower records might well be the most boring thing Eric had ever done. He had, however, made some progress.

The Reverend John Davies - The Bloods
The Bloods Founder, Deceased
Footage he had obtained from a gas station picked up three individuals on bikes heading from the direction of the Young Bloods bunker. They were met by a nondescript dark blue SUV, the license plate of which was registered to a church organisation that was itself connected to a gang known as 'The Blood'. Though one of the bikers had spoken to the occupants of the car, none got out so he had no clue as to their identities. The bikers never removed their helmets which had further hampered Eric's efforts to identify them.

The car and bikes were picked up on a traffic camera on the route to Barstow, California. This was at the extreme edge of his theoretical search area so he deemed himself lucky to catch them. Annoyingly it was Zipper who had obtained the camera footage from this area, but he need never know it yielded a useful clue. Eric had no intention of giving his rival any such satisfaction.

The same convoy of one car and three bikes was found entering Los Angeles from the North, skirting the borders between Baronies, and avoiding sweeper patrols. This may have been a coincidence, or luck, but if not it showed a worrying knowledge of the Baronies of L.A. 

The MacNeil System - Operated by Zipper
Eric could follow the group more consistently once they entered Los Angeles as between 'The MacNeil System' and Bertram's access to city infrastructure he could easily access nearly every traffic camera in Los Angeles. His target's trend of skirting dangerous Baronies and avoiding patrols continued.

Inexplicably two bikes simply disappeared at some point in the territory of the gang known as 'The Blood' where CCTV coverage was sporadic due to vandalism. The remaining biker and the car arrived at the Church of St. Joan which looked more like a fortress than a church. The biker and the two men from the car accompanied a passenger, also from the SUV, though from the way he was manhandled he was obviously not entirely willing.

With the aid of some enhancement software, the passenger was revealed to be the weaselly looking kindred who disappeared after his rescue from the Bunker. After the car left, he followed it via more camera footage to the same approximate area where he lost the two bikes where it also eluded him.

It seemed that every piece of information he acquired generated two new questions.

Interlude - The Usual Suspects
Salvador Garcia - Brujah
Notable Anarch Revolutionary
Salvador Garcia's latest haven was somewhat better quality than the revolutionary leader was used to given the environments he normally found himself in. The home had been provided by a mortal group who he supported financially in the past during some period of unrest in their native country.

One of his guards, Sung Min Yang, a kindred of Korean origins and a fellow revolutionary had informed Salvador that Ramirez had returned early that night. Hopefully he had managed to make some progress into the investigation into the final death of Carlyle, Salvador Garcia's eldest childe.

"Chicago is a dead end." began Ramirez. "Anyone there who wanted Carlyle gone can be accounted for. Those who can't be eliminated as suspects lacked the resources to do the job anyway. So we're back to L.A. I'm afraid..."

Salvador indicated to his advisor that he should continue.

"Marius's two pet assassins, Yukio and Alice are unlikely to be involved. It was too precise a hit for Alice, and Yukio was seen in Los Angeles with 'The Fixers' psycho assistant Victoria, so it wasn't her. I'm also reasonably certain that the so-called Pale Lady was in Paris, so that's another one of his crossed off the list. The only other specialist in his employee with a preference for melee is one of 'The Blossoms', Karla Bray, but it's not their style at all to interfere in anything not involving the sex trade."

Jesus Ramirez - Ventrue
Seneschal to Salvador Garcia
Salvador could sense his seneschal's irritation. He had so wanted an excuse to go after Marius, but at least he was being pragmatic. "You have other candidates, I presume?" queried Garcia.

"The leader of Baron Voerman's 'commando' coterie, one Ellie-May Li, and one of it's members 'Lex' have the skills, and Therese's Camarilla leanings are hardly a secret. Though as neither Therese nor her sister Jeanette have any known connections to Carlyle they have no motive."

Salvador was well aware that Therese's business interests were spread far and wide but he could also see nothing that she might gain from the killing.

"Then there's Michael Tomassio, Baron of the North East..." continued Jesus. "One of his heavy hitters, Vincent Ghast could easily have done the job. He's a rogue childe of a Camarilla notable but I'm informed that if he did it there would have been more mess. There's also a Brujah who I can find nothing about the lineage of, but who has been suspiciously close to several assassinations of Michael's rivals, named Dr Daniel Matthews. Though the Doctor hasn't been seen much of lately."

Garcia had heard of this Baron Tomassio. By all accounts he was true to the Anarch cause though not above advocating for progression when necessary, and was generally considered to have the good of the Anarch Free States at heart. 

Victor Girard - Toreador
Salvador would have to have a closer look into this Toreador when he arrived. In his experience if someone sounded "Too good to be true..." then they generally weren't. He also knew that Ramirez disliked him due to his siding with Victor Girard and Gloria Martinez over himself. Though in Garcia's opinion Ramirez hadn't handled that situation particularly well.

"No motive there either?" queried the Brujah Revolutionary. His Seneschal had to admit that there wasn't one he could discover.

"There are a few others with the skills but equally lacking in motive..." concluded Ramirez. "Louis Fortier's ghoul spymaster Jax has the capabilities, one of Velvet Velour's dancers Sofia is apparently handy with a sword. But they all have the same issue. Namely why the fuck would they be interested in disrupting your return to L.A.? as that's all this assassination has accomplished."

Garcia had given this some consideration.

"My return would unite and focus a considerable portion of the kindred population. It seems to me that someone wants the Anarch Free States as disorganised as possible while they enact some scheme or other..."

It was a good enough theory, but got them no closer to who...

Scene Twenty One - A Return
Hallowbrook - Downtown
Marius Walker's H.Q. and Haven
Daniel's request to be contacted by an agent of Marius's within the Sabbat had been politely but firmly declined. He did however learn a couple of things from the loose lips of some talkative Gangrel around Hallowbrook before he left.

Firstly, Marius was seemingly genuinely surprised that the Sabbat were still coming. Six of their packs had been destroyed, several of them infamous even amongst the Sabbat and 'The Fixer' was evidently concerned about the amount of resources he was having to burn to keep them at bay. They should, in his opinion, have withdrawn by now yet despite their losses kept on coming.

Secondly, Marius had attended a meeting with Isaac Abrams, Baron of Hollywood, very recently and has been in a foul mood ever since. Whatever Isaac wanted had not been well received.

Victoria had informed Daniel that if he intended to speak to Michael then he'd need to go to the Succubus Club, and not the gallery. He didn't ask how she knew, he just presumed she was correct.

The club was busy, even this early in the evening as the 'buzz' around it was still in full effect. Constant adjustments of music and style to the cutting edge of fashion had ensured that it was one of the premiere clubs within L.A. for both mortals and kindred, even giving the Hollywood Asylum some competition.

Dakota Kassidy - Ghoul
Succubus Club Manager
Daniel's access card still granted him VIP access via one of the side entrances though the security there still checked inside before allowing him entry. He could hardly complain as it was a precaution that he had implemented when the club first opened.

Having been informed of his arrival, Michael was waiting for him in his office. His ghoul Dakota handled most of the night to night club business anyway, but Michael liked to ensure that everything was going smoothly. As well as greet any mortals or vampires of note that might attend.

Michael indicated that Daniel should take a seat and after the obligatory pleasantries were exchanged, the Banu Haqim spoke of his reasons for returning.

"It looks like I may need to re-join my previous profession sooner than I planned, if your offer to allow me to return was sincere. A Sabbat intrusion is imminent..."

Michael reclined in his chair. "What is it you're expecting?"

Daniel explained that a recent reconnaissance of a Sabbat Pack hadn't gone at all as planned and as a result the pack had been destroyed. He also informed Michael that he had been warned that their elimination would likely accelerate the Sabbat's timeline.

Storytellers Note - This incident occurred in the previous session. If you haven't read it, then you can find it HERE.

Karen Anatos - Gangrel
6th Generation Kindred, Burbank
"I would therefore like, with your permission, to take some actions in defence of this Barony."

Michael pondered this for a moment before replying.

"I appreciate what you are doing but we have seen no signs of the Sabbat planning anything. One presumes that they have some objective in mind as even they don't act without reason. You have some suspicions about their motives I imagine?"

Daniel had been considering this, but had no firm evidence, only theories.

"Diablerie is always a possibility. There are a number of elder kindred within this city, which I understand are far more of a rarity than they once were. Karen Anatos is one such example though I imagine there are others. After all, even the best defended amongst us can be wore down by simple attrition."

Michael also knew of an even older and more powerful creature that resided within the city. Christopher Houghton, a Toreador of the fifth generation, had guided the cities development for many years. If the Sabbat knew of him then they would certainly consider him to be a rare prize. Michael however, had no intention of sharing this information unless it became completely unavoidable. Houghton was capricious in the extreme and Michael had been made aware that the elder was intrigued by him. 

Christopher Houghton - Toreador
5th Generation Elder
He also knew that he had destroyed kindred who had 'disappointed' him and compromising his anonymity was one of his triggers. Christopher revealed himself when he pleased and would likely react poorly to having his name idlily tossed into conversation. The best Michael could do was give Daniel carte blanche to act.

"What do you have in mind?" asked Michael. 

This question caught Daniel by surprise. He was used to keeping mention of any plan that might become unsavoury from Michael who had finely tuned sensibilities about murder and other heinous acts. In Daniel's absence it seemed that his Baron had become far more pragmatic.

"First we need to move the majority of our sweepers to the North of our domain as that is the direction that the new threats are said to be approaching from. With them under Hope's command any shovelheads that test our defences are going to have a nasty surprise. Then I suggest we leave a plausible and exploitable gap, and set up an ambush. Hopefully the Sabbat's less expendable assets will attempt to enter our domain via that corridor...where I'll be waiting..."

Though it was a solid enough plan, Michael had a few concerns.

The Tomb of the Countess d'Adhemar
"That will be all well and good if the attack is indeed imminent. Unfortunately we can not afford to leave a gap in our defences long term in case other elements with a better grasp of stealth and infiltration utilise the very chink in our armour that you are talking about providing. I'm also concerned that the tomb of the Countess d'Adhemar might also be a target. Of course as the tomb is within Hollywood it is by default already well defended, yet I'd still like to have my own people within striking distance. Do we know if they have a leader? Especially one whose removal would further disrupt the Sabbat's overall strategy?"

This last point had occurred to Daniel as well. Removing the 'head of the snake' was a viable strategy he'd used in the past but he was surprised to hear Michael openly suggesting it. Michael also had another suggestion.

"You should speak to Eric. Amongst his other investigative duties he was also looking into any signs of suspicious activities that might be connected to the Sabbat."

Daniel also had one final request.

"You wouldn't have the equipment I left behind to hand would you? I have a feeling I'm going to need them."

As it happened they were in Michael's safe in this very office.

Scene Twenty Two - The Old and the New
Ambrus Maropis - Nosferatu
Information Broker, Security Expert
Eric had received an odd message from his Mawla and mentor Ambrus Maropis. It concerned the desire of Carmelita Neillson to speak to Michael and the need for the call to be as securely encrypted as possible. 

The subsequent message contained a website address, several access codes and a time thirty minutes from now. He also received by email a very elegantly designed piece of encryption software that made his own efforts feel slightly clunky in comparison. Evidently someone was paying Ambrus very well in order to facilitate this call.

Eric contacted Michael immediately. This was important.

"Yo...Baron Tomassio. I've been sent some info from a pal of mine. Miss Neillson needs a phone convo with you. All very hush, hush, super secret, ya know? So there's access codes and other stuff you'll need too."

Michael then queried how exactly access codes were used when making a phone call.

"Well..." Eric replied. "...there's this thing called the internet, it's all new and shit. Doesn't even make that creepy robot modem noise anymore. There's this thing on it called a website, and on that..."

Michael then interrupted. "Don't try my patience Eric. I'm well aware of how the internet works. You said 'Phone Call' which I took to mean a call, using a phone..."

San Gabriel Mountains at Night
Daniel then diplomatically asked if he might have a moment with Eric to discuss any information he might have obtained, as Michael had earlier suggested he might. He also thought it was the best way to avoid having the Baron send Vin round to rearrange the Hackers kneecaps.

The call was quite enlightening. Eric relayed how as part of his investigation into unusual murders within the confines of L.A, he had been able to narrow the hunting ground of a suspected serial killer within the San Fernando mountains with far greater precision than the authorities. Though still covering several square miles, it was still considerably more precise than the entire mountain range that the police had to investigate. The area Eric had highlighted contained a disused mine, a cave network and a set of cabins abandoned due to subsidence of the nearby cliffs. Any or all of these would make a serviceable temporary Haven for the Sabbat. 

When Daniel queried why Eric had kept this to himself, the hacker pointed out that he hadn't actually discovered a specific location so hadn't thought it worth mentioning. It also wasn't " the top of Baron Micky's task list..." Daniel made a mental note to arrange a meeting with Eric in case there was any other relevant information that the young Nosferatu hadn't considered worth mentioning.

Scene Twenty Three - The Call
Carmelita Neillson - Toreador
Archaeologist and Archivist
Equipped with a website address, access codes and a time, Michael waited patiently for Carmelita to make contact. Almost to the second predicted, the connection was made and Carmelita's face appeared upon his monitor. She was unusually serious and that worried Michael a great deal.

"Michael. I don't have much time so pay attention. The Inner Circle and the Justicars are in a flap and your about to be knee deep in it."

The Baron leant forward. This was even more concerning than anything he might have predicted.

"An ancient awakened about a year ago. And I mean 'ancient' literally, this isn't just some Toreador whose been out of the game for bit. This is a genuine, fourth generation, childe of Arikel were talking about. This ancient has called in boons so old even the Inner Circle had to go and check the records. They're heading for L.A. looking for a childe who had royally pissed them off and the Camarilla have been told to stay out of their way. Once they've done what they came there for, I don't know if they're planning on staying in L.A. The city might not necessarily end up with a Prince that they wont be able to blow up or outmanoeuvre, but it's a possibility."

Michael was certain that this 'childe' was Christopher Houghton. Apparently more dangerous kindred than the Sabbat were interested in his location. Carmelita's next statement confirmed his hypothesis.

Sir Matthew Lubbock - Toreador
"Sir Matthew Lubbock is his name. Has a thing for blonde men, well boys actually, but his assistants tend to be least it makes his agents easy to spot."

The Baron had always suspected that Christopher's fear of his sire had far more to it than the embarrassment he'd caused Sir Matthew in New England. A kindred who wished to preserve a beautiful young man at the age of thirteen obviously had unsavoury desires. An eternity with such an abuser was something that Michael couldn't even contemplate.

Michael had a question of his own. "Do we know how they're planning on travelling to this city?"

Carmelita theorized that such ancient creatures tended to distrust anything with which they were unfamiliar, especially if a period of time in torpor had meant that they had missed significant jumps in technological developments. She would therefore guess, if pushed, that they would probably arrive by boat, rather than plane or car.

Michael wrote 'Harvey Caplan' and 'The South Coast Docks' on a note pad in front of him, and circled them both. Harvey had sole control over the South Coast and was undisputed master of the docks. Any arrival into the city via boat would need to get past him first. 

Of course the possibility occurred that this visitor may already have arrived. 

Harvey Caplan - Ventrue
Baron of the South Coast
Harvey was still a businessman and would be unlikely to ask too many questions of a kindred visitor with deep pockets.

"Who else knows about this?" asked Michael. He was sure that other Camarilla agents were operating in this part of the United States, perhaps even in this city and that the arrival of an elder such as this would certainly disrupt many plans.

"The Inner Circle, The Justicars, Fiorenza, Desdemona, me, now you and half a dozen senior Archons. Anyone with operations in place have been told to suspend them and hunker down, and not to ask any questions. You can't even contemplate how many boons this fucker had accumulated before going to ground and he's hyper focussed on this childe."

Considering how intertwined kindred politics was, this was a surprisingly short list. Someone was trying very hard to prevent this ancient ones prey from getting wind of their imminent arrival.

"If you know anything then now is the time to do whatever you can to protect yourself. The best you can hope for is to stay out of its path. Whatever trace of our clans compassion they once had is gone. I felt that I had to warn you...and there's one other thing. Someone in L.A. is facilitating this in a significant way, so be careful who you confide in, I'd advise against bringing it to your Anarch Council. Agents of this Methuselah are certainly already within the city and who knows what tricks something this old might have learned..."

Digital Footprint Erased courtesy of Ambrus
Michael knew that what he needed now was as much information as possible and if anyone could help with that, it was Carmelita. 

She promised to gather what information she could find and get it to him one way or another.

Michael then heard a voice in the background, but couldn't really hear what they're saying. Carmelita turned and spoke to someone behind her "Okay Ambrus, I'm done. Sorry, got to go. Watch your back Michael..."

Then she was gone. A moment later the screen went blank and the website they'd been using disappeared. All that was left was a very sophisticated encryption program that Eric transferred to a drive of his own in case that too was programmed to 'self-destruct'.

Scene Twenty Four - Backup
Yukio Hayashi - Ancient Ghoul
Ghoul of Marius, 'Security'
Daniel's focus was still wholly upon the Sabbat. His primary concern was that he didn't have enough manpower to adequately monitor an entire border. He decided to see if he could get some assistance from Yukio, Marius's head of security.

Yukio got straight to the point. "Why ask me? Marius is going to need to okay anything like that and if you're not contacting him direct then I guess you're not expecting a positive response?"

Daniel admitted that he was trying to keep Marius out of it if he could. He was merely hoping that Yukio might have some personnel spare as he was concerned about how thinly spread the sweepers of the North-East actually were.

"You and me both..." began Yukio. "I've got this whole 'Barony of the Angels' bullshit to worry about, wannabee Anarchs wandering about that I need to monitor and half a dozen new pseudo-Barons with their own mini-empires who are already managing to annoy Marius now they think their opinions matter to him. Newsflash, he still doesn't give a fuck about them..."

Daniel got the distinct impression that he wasn't going to get any help from this quarter. He was correct.

"I'd love to help, but I haven't the resources to spare. Marius has called in Gangrel pack's to help, Some of which he doesn't even like, and some of those come with their own issues.

Victoria Anne - Ancient Ghoul
Psychotic Personal Assistant
"Not least of which is that they don't like taking orders from a ghoul, even one as scary as Victoria, but even with them I'm spread as thin as you are. Sorry mate, you're on your own..."

Daniel decided that if he wasn't going to get any manpower, he at least might get some strategic information about other potential directions he might be attacked from.

He was particularly concerned about Hollywood as that domains boundaries also bordered the San Gabriel Mountains where he suspected the Sabbat base was.

"I wouldn't worry about Hollywood, Isaac will deal with any problems long before they enter his domain. Though on that note...I'd avoid causing any trouble for Baron Abrams for the next few nights at the very least. He's already got Marius running around for him and that usually means that he's up to something, and as it's usually in direct proportion to how pissed off it's made Marius, this one must be a doozy..."

Yukio did however offer him access to any weapons he might need to 'borrow'. Apparently armament wasn't something she was short of.

Fuck it. Between Hope, Vin and himself he'd come up with something...

Scene Twenty Five - Incursion
Sabbat 'Shovelhead' Recruits
Daniels precautions seemed to have been enough to dissuade the Sabbat from testing the defences of Michael's Baronies. Others hadn't been so lucky.

The Sabbat had struck against many of the kindred of L.A. directly, but their main goal had seemingly been attacks against the Baronies mortal interests. They had also created a number of incidents that struck at the masquerade itself. 

Oddly, some of the mortal interests targeted seem to be unrelated to the Baronies that they were contained within. It was almost as if there was another force at work within the city that the Sabbat were also working to disrupt.

With her seven strong coterie of watchdogs guarding one of the smallest baronies, Baron Voerman had had no attacks to defend against. Her borders were being too heavily observed for a mass assault to sneak through. Despite this, a careful watch was still being kept. It was also rumoured that her dispute with her sister Jeanette, who ran the Hollywood Asylum, had been put on hold so they could share information on potential threats

Half a dozen murders in the domain of Karen Anatos were being interpreted as pre-emptive strikes by the Gangrel Anathema against Sabbat infiltrators who were poised to act against her. How she discovered these would-be terrorists is known to no-one but her. Strangely, two of these were handsome blonde men, who had matched several victims of the Sabbat in other assaults.

Shantelle - Gangrel
'The Water Rats', Dock Security
Arson attacks at the docks had caused fires that spread dangerously close to the havens of the kindred there resulting in several hasty evacuations. A single vessel, whose paperwork and identity seemed to be strangely absent, was gutted during these acts of terrorism. Strangely though, neither Caplan nor apparently any of his people knew a damn thing about how this ship slipped through their security net.

The expected attacks upon the kindred of the South Coast were not forthcoming, However the confusion left them unable to hunt down the perpetrators of the attacks and other acts of sabotage were then carried out at will. Given the location, the likelihood of Federal Law Enforcement investigation is high which will subsequently limit Harvey Caplan's ability to engage in his more dubious activities. Especially if these involved other kindred.

West L.A. had suffered a more indirect intrusion. Ritualistic murders with a distinctly vampiric theme had been committed all around Fortier's Barony and had included exsanguination of several bodies around government institutions with which Louis had influence. The news was now full of theories about a vampire obsessed serial killer abroad in Los Angeles. Many of these victims were handsome, blonde haired young men. A fact that had not gone unnoticed by Michael.

Fortier's scourge Joey was apparently convinced that the perpetrators withdrew from West L.A. as soon as their task was completed. Why they didn't take advantage of the chaos is a concern to all. What else did they have planned?

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

The Baronies of Whittier and Anaheim had also received a less confrontational message from the Sabbat. Vicissitude altered bodies and insane mortals screaming about vampires, had made appearances in a dozen locations. These had been spread too far apart to be covered up and stories had also made several news outlets. One of the insane was a handsome blonde man who was, as yet, unidentified.

Nicodemus - Gangrel Elder
'The Wilds Pack'
An attack was made upon Nicodemus's lair during the day, led by fleshcrafted warghouls, presumably in an attempt to weaken the elder Gangrel for diablerie by one of the Sabbats leaders. It failed, but Nicodemus's pets apparently fed very well, saving several choice morsels for their master.

The rest of the Wilds Pack and their allied packs were now on full alert and it was unlikely that a single living creature within The Wilds didn't have something looking through its eyes for intruders. They had however found nothing and Myranda now suspected that the whole thing was merely a distraction from some other scheme elsewhere. Therefore any recent arrivals to the area are being watched closely.

Several bodies had been found near the communal havens of many of The Liberated domains residents. Regardless of shape, size or gender each corpse wore the visage of Jenna Cross, former 'messiah' of the duskborn whose fate was, and still is, unknown.

The domain of Baron Isaac Abrams had inexplicably been exempt from any Sabbat activity, indeed it seemed to be the only safe haven within the city currently. Three missing persons cases seemed to be unrelated to the Sabbat problem. All the missing were young boys between the ages of twelve and fifteen.

There were also no reports of any incidents against the recently restored Barony of the Angel's, though reports of violence on the borders may well have been the repulsion of incoming enemies by the sweepers of Downtown. A united effort by the sub-factions with the Barony of the Angel's, had bolstered these defences with each one contributing something to the effort.

It also seemed that Marius's recent generosity when it came to cleaning up problems more or less for free during the Camarilla invasion, had ended. Any who wanted their problems 'fixed', now needed to pay the going rate. Of course the 'going rate' varied wildly depending upon Marius's whims that night.

However it seemed that these assaults against the other baronies were merely there to draw attention away from The Crypts Sons Barony which had received the bulk of the Sabbats attention.

Interlude - Dracul's Talon
Sofia Rivera - Toreador
'Census Taker' for Hollywood
Sofia watched her Baron with some trepidation. "Did the Gangrel do as you asked?" she enquired.

The Toreador Baron's focus upon whatever goal he was pursuing was absolute and had seemingly put his humanity behind him while it was his focus. Sofia had destroyed Carlyle at his command but now wasn't entirely sure whether refusal had ever been an option. None currently involved in this grand scheme, herself included if she was being honest, seemed to have any real will of their own. Only Velvet had been given the courtesy of refusal as an option and she was more like a daughter to him than a follower. 

Even so VV had manipulated half a dozen kindred at Baron Abrams command, the only exception was Michael Tomassio, Baron of the North East, who she had steadfastly refused to put in danger. Sofia Rivera and Michael were childer of the same sire, one St├ęphanie Mayoux, a notorious Camarilla Harpy infamous for the ruthless manner in which she destroyed the reputations of those she deemed unworthy. She dearly wished to confide in Michael what she had done at Isaac's command but the hold he had over her was too strong. Hopefully her 'brother' would be able to work out the danger for himself.

"Eventually." replied Isaac. "The price I offered was impossible for one with his inclinations to refuse, even if he might not survive the tasks I required of him, the risk are insignificant when compared to the potential reward."

"...and the weapon?" prompted Sofia.

Isaac Abrams - Toreador
Baron of Hollywood
The expression on Isaac's face made her step back and she found herself looking for the nearest exit. She was familiar with the changes that occurred when the Beast rose to the surface within a kindred but had never seen such a rapid transition. It was a moment before she realised that the focus of his hatred was not her for asking the question, but for the weapon's intended target. He beckoned her over and she reluctantly approached.

He indicated a long leather case, reinforced with dark steel and with a name plate upon the centre that had long ago worn smooth. He then flipped the catches and revealed what was contained within.

"Not my first choice..." revealed Isaac "...but the Fixer claims that particular item was not in his possession. Apparently it was in the hands of another Gangrel collector who disposed of it due to it's dubious history. Unfortunate, if true, but this will do the same job, albeit in a slightly less efficient manner."

The pommel, grip and quillons were silver and entwined themselves around the base of the blade. Though undoubtedly razor sharp, the blade had the appearance of glass in which blood red liquid swirled into strange configurations. Sofia found the patterns strangely hypnotic and found herself reaching for the weapons hilt.

A strong hand gripped her wrist, locking it in place mere inches from the weapon.

"This is not for you to wield." stated Isaac, matter of factly. "You lack the will to resist it's more malign influences. The killing blow, so to speak, shall be at my hand."

Sofia shook her head to clear it and her Baron released her before speaking. 

"You may leave now..."

It didn't sound like a request.

Scene Twenty Six - The Last Son of the Crypt
Henrique 'Hank' Boyd - Brujah
Likely Destroyed
The primary target of the Sabbat was Hank Boyd, whose mortal gangs had suffered heavily due to assaults by masses of freshly embraced kindred driven towards them armed with whatever they had to hand. 

Many of these shovelheads were drawn from the gangs own members which caused additional havoc as some gang bangers hesitated to fire on what they considered to be their own. Mortal assets had been found wandering the streets having been driven insane by invasive mental abilities and the rest had been brutally murdered in a variety of interesting ways.

Though the attacks were ultimately repelled, well planned precision strikes against the surviving kindred had seemingly completed the Sabbats vengeance against those who resisted their takeover of The Crypts Sons. As it currently stood, the fate of all but Deacon was unknown. Deacon was fortunate to be recruiting in the Barony of the Angel's and was therefore beyond the Sabbats reach.

Though other baronies had also suffered, none had been cleansed of kindred in as brutal a fashion. It seemed that Hank's luck may have finally ran out, there would be no miraculous survival this time.

It was then that Michael was informed that he had a visitor. Deacon, the apparent sole survivor of the Sabbats assault upon the Crypts Sons, was waiting for him.

Deacon - Brujah
Formerly of The Crypts Sons
What he had to say was very interesting.

"I'm not sure what your policy is on refugees, but I need a safe haven. Any enemy that the Crypts Sons had left now only need to eliminate myself to complete our erasure. Yours is the only Barony with the political clout to ensure my safety and I therefore humbly request sanctuary within your domain..."

Michael understood why he had no desire to return to his own haven which was certain to be within what was once the domain of The Crypts Sons. If it was indeed the Sabbat who were responsible, they would certainly know where Deacon's haven was. After all, they'd found the rest of the gang with seeming impunity. It also occurred to him that Deacon would know all the business interests that the Crypts Sons had as well as their contacts. Some of these would certainly now be dead but some useful assets may still remain.

Deacon also had another point to raise.

"There's another minor issue. Before this atrocity, I had recruited two new kindred to this city to join me. Though I can't offer them a home where I initially promised, it would be nice if I didn't have to entirely break my word. Perhaps they too might find a home here?"

Michael would have them investigated before he allowed them entry but for now he wanted to know what information Deacon had on them.

The unlikely pair had travelled to L.A. from New York to try their luck in the Free States. One's street smarts and the others familiarity with basic uses of the discipline known as Dominate made their journey far simpler than if they'd have travelled as individuals. 

Luka Preece - Brujah
Anarch Neonate
Though they intended to part company once reaching Los Angeles both were recruited by Deacon for the now destroyed Crypts Sons.

Luka Preece was a Brujah who had left the Camarilla domain of New York drawn by rumours of a place where kindred were free to forge their own fate regardless of age or the potency of their blood. Though New York had an Anarch presence, it was still somewhat subject to Camarilla dictates. Deacon had convinced him that the gang were more like a family and that Luka would be looked after by The Crypts Sons should he choose to join them.

The other was named Colin Raymond. He was an ambitious fourth childe of a Ventrue who had escaped London during the Second Inquisitions purges and made a new home in Manhattan, New York. Now sure that his age and position in the hierarchy would prevent him from ever advancing in a meaningful way, he had headed to the Free States eager to try his hand in a domain not ruled by elders. Deacon had convinced him that the Crypts Sons gang were a business like any other and that advancement was based on money made and nothing else.

Both Michael and Daniel noted that Deacon had more or less told these kindred exactly what they wanted to hear in order to facilitate their recruitment. Though he hadn't lied as such, he had laid out the facts in a way that he got what he wanted. Both concluded that he could be as useful a recruiter for the North East Baronies as he had apparently been for the now defunct Crypts Sons. 

Colin Raymond - Ventrue
Anarch Neonate
Michael agreed that Deacon could be found a place within Pasadena, or one of the other domains under his control, as could his two recruits.

Vin was later instructed to find havens for all three, but to ensure that Deacon's was of a decent quality. If they wanted him to join them, then a little 'wining and dining' wouldn't hurt their cause. Vin was also to keep an eye on all three. Considering the strange times they were currently existing within, one couldn't be too careful. Daniel also wanted to meet them himself, and also see what information could be found on them by Eric and Zipper. New York had changed hands many times, and Sabbat infiltrators had certainly existed before and would do so again, so he too wished to air on the side of caution. 

Daniel had also raised several doubts about whether every act of violence of the previous night had indeed been the work of the Sabbat. Though many certainly were, it wasn't out of the question that other kindred hadn't taken advantage of the situation to carry out activities which suited them too. Michael saw Marius's hand in everything but this time he might well be right.

Once Deacon had been escorted to his new accommodations by Vin, Michael and Daniel mulled over what they had learned. Hanks ranch, and new, supposedly secret, haven had been cleansed in brutal fashion. All the recent new recruits to the cause were either destroyed or had disappeared, their fate unknown. According to Deacon, even those mortal assets who were aware of what their masters truly were had been targeted.

Louis Fortier - Ventrue
Baron of West L.A.
What this meant to the coterie was that there was also now an empty Barony within Los Angeles and an empty seat at the council table. No Barony was yet to encroach upon this newly vacated territory but many must surely be considering it.

El Hermandad interest went without saying, but the domain was also bordered by the baronies of Harvey Caplan, Louis Fortier and Marius Walker. All of those Barons had the power and resources to make a move on this large feeding ground. Its other neighbour, The Liberated, might also have had aspirations in this area in order to expand the influence of the Duskborn and Caitiff within Los Angeles. A five way battle for this area benefitted no-one. The consequences of anything approaching open warfare between Louis Fortier and Marius Walker was going to be a major problem. They were the two most capable kindred warleaders in Los Angeles and neither was short of resources or manpower.

Michael could also see the advantages of controlling such a domain, though his own plans would need to be more subtle. Perhaps he could persuade the council to allow a neutral party to manage the barony until an effective long-term solution could be reached. Of course the selected candidate would need to be a kindred that Michael either already controlled or could easily manipulate. The Toreador Baron had nothing against Hank, but it was clear that whatever leader was needed for this area, he obviously hadn't been it.

"We need more specific information on the former Crypts Sons domain and the Sabbat attacks." concluded Daniel. "What are the chances of you being able to persuade the council to allow a neutral agent of the Arbiter to undertake an investigation?"

It was an interesting question.

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....

Though it may look like I arbitrarily wiped out an entire barony for dramatic effect...

Okay. That's exactly what I did. There were ways the coterie could have prevented it but their focus was elsewhere so it happened. The up side for me is that it opens up some new political options for the coterie, though none are risk free.

I'm not sure what their plan will be but you can guarantee it won't be any of the options I've actually written something for...

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, Dr Matthews is Mads Mikkelsen, Salvador Garcia is Antonio Banderas, Jesus Ramirez is Javier Bardem, Victor Girard is Bob Hoskins, Dakota Kassidy is Laura Prepon, Karen Anatos is Christina Hendricks, Carmelita Neillson is Salma Hayek, Sir Matthew Lubbock is Michael Douglas, Harvey Caplan is Harvey Keitel, Yukio Hayashi is Jamie Chung, Victoria Anne is Lilith May, Therese and Jeanette Voerman are Whitney Moore, Shantelle is Marsha Thomason, Gloria Martinez is Ariadne Artiles, Allison Maller is Chloe Grace Moretz, Marius Walker is Tony Curran, Sofia Rivera is Eliza Dushka, Isaac Abrams is Gary Oldman, Henrique 'Hank' Boyd is Michael Clarke Duncan, Deacon is Michael Ealy, Luka Preece is Djimon Hounsou, Colin Raymond is Patrick J. Adams and Louis Fortier is Eduardo Verastegui.

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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