Friday 29 July 2022

Vampire the Masquerade - V5 - Session One Hundred and Seventeen - 'Methuselah' (Part Six)

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 OneTwoThreeFour and Five

The PC's
Michael Tomassio - Toreador, 'Baron of the North East'
Vincent 'Vin' Ghast - Brujah, 'Constable'
Dr Daniel Matthews - Banu Haqim, 'Fixer'
Hope Romero - Gangrel, 'Census Taker'

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 Work

Michael has spent the previous night attempting to gather as much information as possible on who exactly he could trust to assist with the danger posed by an ancient Methuselah making a move upon Los Angeles. Now it was Daniel's turn to see what he could discover...

Scene Thirty Four - Cat and Mouse
Daniel had decided to approach Charlie 'Chick' Abbott, of Therese Voerman's so-called commando coterie, to see what she knew of The Sabbat's recent activities within the city. Santa Monica had been one of the few domains unmolested by the Sabbat and this had piqued Daniel's interest.

Charlie 'Chick' Abbott - Banu Haqim
Commando Coterie - Santa Monica
Charlie 'Chick' Abbott agreed to meet with Daniel at an address in Santa Monica. A quick search revealed the location to be within a small warehouse district near the Santa Monica Expo train line from Downtown LA to Santa Monica. More interestingly it was the site of a massive, and still unexplained, explosion nearly twenty years ago.

Though Daniel trusted 'Chick' to a certain extent, he also felt that under the circumstances taking a bit of back-up might be a sensible precaution. He therefore rang Hope and informed her that he had an appointment to keep and asked if she fancied joining him on a little trip. He picked her up by the Red Rock petrol station near to her haven. Hope's sanctuary was a closely guarded secret and only she, the few duskborn who acted as her Herd, and the alchemist who made their vitae strong enough to satisfy Hope's thirst knew it's exact whereabouts.
"Where exactly are we going?" asked Hope.

After Daniel's explanation, Hope summarised.

"So we're going to meet one of the most dangerous assassins in L.A., who works for one of the most ruthless Barons in the city, in an abandoned warehouse in the middle of nowhere...well that sounds safe..."

Hope's concerns were amplified when Daniel parked right outside the warehouse. Usually he liked to leave his vehicle out of sight, and some distance away, so it wouldn't be connected with anything dubious that occurred at the target location. "That's awfully close for you?" queried Hope.

"A quick getaway might be necessary..." confirmed Daniel. " if anything goes wrong, please arrive in the nick of time and save me." "Failing that..." continued Daniel, this time a little more light-heartedly. "...avenge my death? There's an assault rifle in the trunk..."

Daniel's "Just in case it all goes wrong" Kit
Hope replied that she'd consider it as long as he didn't do another disappearing act and leave her to deal with Eric. "...feel free to use the radio, but don't break anything in my car or change any of my settings..." added Daniel.

Once Daniel left the car, Hope promptly changed all the pre-sets on every setting in the vehicle, on general principle. 

The warehouse was locked, but not particularly securely, and the fence was easily scalable. The building itself was in complete darkness. A note had been pinned to the front gate.

It said "Catch me if you can." and was signed 'Chick'.

Daniel promptly faded from sight. If this was a game then he'd be happy to play and if not, well, being invisible was a good idea either way. He then began to give the building a closer examination.

The warehouse was a fairly new construction but hadn't been particularly well maintained. Daniel presumed that Chick would be watching him from a window or would have selected an elevated position somewhere inside the warehouse. It also occurred to him that she would have pre-empted that conclusion and hidden somewhere completely different.

Paintball Headshot
There were two large loading bay doors to one side of the building and a smaller entrance to an office of some kind near to the front car park. Deciding that the office door would give him the best view of the interior, he cleared the fence in a single leap and utilised whatever cover he could find as he approached the entrance. As he carefully peered through the window there was a splat of a paintball hitting the window right about where his forehead was.

A second later he received a text that simply said "One point to me". Though this was evidently a game of sorts, Daniel was aware that had this been a real fight his brains would currently be splattered all over the carpark. It was a sobering thought for one who prided himself on his stealth and planning. He decided he'd need to be more of a challenge. He still had the pouch provided by Marius containing various items useful in the practice of blood sorcery. 

After removing a container for vitae and a small vial with a living spider within, he conducted the ritual known as ' The Clinging of the Insect', and scaled the side of the warehouse to seek a less obvious entry point. 

'Clinging of the Insect' - Blood Sorcery Ritual
As he scaled the wall he noticed an open window. It was the only one not locked and it screamed 'trap' so Daniel ignored it and carried on to the roof. 

A series of skylights ran the length of it, several could be opened, but he was sure that Chick knew that too. Daniel decided to even the odds a little and sent Hope a text.

"Chick wants to play cat and mouse, hopefully for fun, Can you bang on the front door for me?"

Hope cleared the fence, much as Daniel had done, and strolled up to the front door. Hope wasn't exactly subtle at the best of times and the way she knocked on doors reflected this. As soon as she banged on the door, Daniel slipped in through one of the skylights.

Piles of crates were scattered haphazardly around the interior and the only internal construction was a ladder to a small upstairs office, and what was presumably a toilet or washroom in the opposite corner to that office. There were hiding places aplenty, both high and low. Without knowing what his opponent had planned it was difficult to calculate which of these would be an optimum place from which to attack.

Chick's Warehouse - Interior
In his opinion there were two locations that were most likely, one would have made the shot fairly easy, the other would have made for a trickier angle. He selected the trickier of the two at the far end of the warehouse, near a loading bay entrance, and made his way there as stealthily as possible. As he approached he saw a cardboard box, conspicuously new and out of place. From his current angle of approach it looked like it contained two guns. Curious but also suspicious he advanced slowly. He then noticed the trip-wire.

Tracing it back he found that it led to a large grenade, though one packed with paint, not explosives, which he disarmed and took with him. The box contained a pair of paint guns carefully designed in the shape of Colt M1911's. His phone then beeped and he risked a look at the text. "Okay, that's a point to you." it said. There was a second text that simple said "3", then one that said "2", Daniel moved quickly, ignoring the message that he was sure would be "1". On the fourth 'beep', presumably "0", paint splats began to stitch the area that he'd been crouched in a moment earlier. Daniel called upon his powers of supernatural speed and 'Blinked' away.

Daniel felt more alive than since he'd been embraced, he was genuinely enjoying this game. He also noted that the shots were aiming up, rather than down. Presumably Chick had thought that he would look for her in a high position and had done the opposite. As he himself moved to ground level he reactivated the explosive he'd found earlier and placed it along the route he hoped she'd used to pursue him. It was a long-shot but at the very least it might slow her down a little.

Paintball Grenade - A Trap
As he took the corner wide, he moved evasively to try and get the drop on his adversary, only to be forced to leap backwards as a paintball grenade bounced towards him from a completely unforeseen angle. As he moved to the only hiding place in range a paintball exploded against his left shoulder. He now found himself in possibly the most obvious hiding place in the warehouse. Deciding to play the game properly, he tucked the paint-gun from his left hand into his belt, presuming that had that been a real bullet, he would certainly have dropped the weapon.

Daniel realised that quite by chance he was now very near to where he'd planted the grenade from earlier. Moving in such a way as to trick his 'enemy' into his previously laid trap, he zig-zagged from cover. He felt a moment of elation as Chick appeared exactly where he had hoped, followed by an 'Oh Shit' moment as she tossed the grenade he'd set as a trap right at him. 

Not sure if the guns projectiles had the momentum to deflect the grenade he shot it with unerring accuracy. It detonated rather spectacularly which gave her time to evade his planned upon attack. However, for the first time this evening he was the hunter rather than the hunted as he saw the exact location she'd headed for.

There were two approaches to her new hiding place and he was reasonably sure she could only defend one. None stood out as better or worse than the other making the odds of him taking her out to be about 50/50. Daniel disliked the idea of winning or losing on the toss of a coin so came up with something better.

Daniel's Karambit Knife
Relying on Chick second guessing his decision, he slid one of his knives along the floor, which she promptly shot with perfect accuracy. Rather than attack from the opposite side, he approached from the same direction as his thrown blade. As he had hoped, she had moved away from the blade, presuming it to be a distraction. By the time she realised that Daniel was behind her, he had already put three shots into her back, right directly over her heart.

"That's the most fun I've had in a long time." commented Daniel.

"Looks like you win..." replied Charlie. "...but if we'd been playing for real, you'd have been destroyed for before you even got inside, headshots are invariably deadly with the ammunition I use." she added with a smile.

Daniel agreed that this was so. "That's why I was forced to up my game for round two." he admitted.

His fellow assassin seemed to take this as a compliment and resounded with one of her own. "Well you're sneakier than before, I'll give you that. So anyway, what exactly did you want to talk about?"

Scene Thirty Five - Santa Monica
"Are you going to invite your friend in?" asked Chick

Daniel rang Hope to inform her that the games were over and she could come in if she liked. Hope's curiosity got the better of her and she decided to join the pair of assassins.

'Definitely not a Paintball Stain...'
Hope observed the splats of paint and mentally recreated some of the battle in her head. She also noticed several red stains that were definitely not paint. They weren't from Chick and Daniel's recent 'game', and got Hope wondering what this place was normally used for.

"Believe it or not..." began Daniel. "...this was going to be a social call for the most part, though I also wanted to ask you about the recent Sabbat Incursion while I was here. I've been somewhat out of touch recently."

Charlie admitted that she'd noticed that Daniel wasn't around. Though she didn't ask the reason, Daniel felt the need to explain himself. Charlie was, after all, the only other member of his clan within the city.

The doctor informed her that his last encounter with the Sabbat hadn't gone according to plan and that a loss of control had forced him to think hard about what he was becoming. A period of self-reflection was necessary and had allowed him to scrape back some of his humanity. He skimmed over the details as he wasn't sure what Chick thought about the Bahari, Salubri or Marius.

Edward Kaya - Banu Haqim
Sire of Daniel Matthews
"I'd also like to spend some time with you once the cities immediate troubles are resolved..." continued Daniel. " it's been a long time since I associated with one of our clan. My previous role model left much to be desired..."

"I've never been a fan of your sire." confessed Chick. "I haven't encountered him for a long time, but on the rare occasions that I did, there's always been something about him that put me on edge. That he's a worshipper of Ur-Shulgi is no fucking surprise, and though the Path of Blood has many positive aspects I prefer to make a set of rules to exist by that are less binding. I certainly don't think that believing something different to myself should be punishable by destruction and I'm not going to help someone just because they follow the same path as me...after all...they might be a fucking asshole..."

This mirrored some of Daniel's own thoughts. To be a judge of other kindred was a worthy goal, but flexibility must also be possible.

"...he also is a prolific diablerist, and despite what the Path of Blood says about diablerizing enemies, I'm not convinced that all of Kaya's victims counted as such. Basically he's a cunt who uses religion to justify doing whatever he feels like..."

Daniel just nodded in agreement. Nothing she had said required elaboration. He therefore moved the conversation to Santa Monica apparently having no Sabbat incursion within it's borders.

"We saw nothing unusual to be honest but we were on high alert. A cockroach couldn't have snuck into Santa Monica that night. There was one odd individual though. Pretty blonde man, leased the whole top floor of Santa Monica Suites. Therese told us to leave him alone though so that's what we did. I figured he was someone's ghoul. He had that look..."

Therese Voerman - Malkavian
Baron of Santa Monica
Daniel also stated his concern that the Sabbat attack had opened up the Crypts Sons territory and that it's neighbours were sure to be considering expanded their own domains in that direction.

Chick was surprisingly honest with her reply. "Therese has no interest in that domain at all. Louis doesn't either but he'll do what he has to do to protect his Barony. If your asking who she'd side with then that's simple. If Baron Fortier wants it she'll side with him, if he doesn't she'll go with Marius, or Harvey Caplan as a third choice in the unlikely event that 'The Fixer' has no designs on the area. Marius will try and sell it as an expansion of the Barony of the Angels, not his own domain, which we all know is bullshit as the whole thing is just Downtown 2.0, but some might buy it just to avoid making an enemy..."

Daniel had his doubts about Marius making a move on that domain. Hope however had learned a great deal during the time she'd spent in Marius's service before joining Michael, and was less convinced.

Daniel then decided to share what he'd learnt about the potential Sabbat base discovered by Eric.

"An individual of skill within our Barony has uncovered evidence that points towards a Sabbat base in the San Gabriel Mountains. Unfortunately there are a few potential havens within the area so it'll take some narrowing down. I just thought you'd like to know and perhaps join me when I inevitably need to deal with them?"

Hope interrupted "...are we talking about Eric?" her scepticism was quite apparent. he hadn't exactly endeared himself to her when they'd worked together recently. "He's good at his job." countered Daniel

"Well if that's all, I have a patrol to do." responded Chick. "You can keep the paintball guns, just don't get them mixed up with your real ones. That way we can play again some time."

Resisting the urge to shoot Hope in the back of the head with a paintball, Daniel returned to their car. "Where to next?" asked Hope, somewhat surprised that Daniel hadn't yet tried to shoot her with a paintball.

Scene Thirty Six - The Ancient Warrens
Sofia Rivera - Toreador
Census Taker for Hollywood
In an attempt to avoid causing any trouble, Daniel asked his Baron Michael to arrange for them to gain permission to enter Hollywood. He did so via Sofia, Baron Abrams scourge, though also used the opportunity to put to her that they hadn't met up for a while and should probably catch up.

Michael then informed Daniel that he had permission to visit his Mawla Alonzo, as long as he stayed below ground and didn't make any detours.

It had been a long time since Daniel travelled through the Warren's but little had changed. The closer they got to Alonzo's haven, the more the noise of scurrying feet could be heard and the creatures they occasionally caught a glimpse of were all outlandish in some fashion. Too large, too fast or with too many limbs.

The security gates dividing off the sewer sections were all unlocked ahead of them as Alonzo's vermin helpers cleared the access for one they recognised as authorised to travel through the ancient Warren's. Ripples could be discerned in the water filled areas of the network as aquatic guardians also observed their progress. Daniel was yet to see Eula, the Nosferatu's most fearsome protector, as she tended to reside close to her master. The tentacled mass of tooth and maw was capable of devouring an enemy whole, a fact that several other underground factions were well aware of.

As they approached the narrow walkway that was the final approach to where Alonzo made his home, they observed a new guardian.

'Lumpy' Lewellen - Nosferatu
'Assistant' to Alonzo
Lewellen, or 'Lumpy' to his friends, was a Nosferatu of epic size. Standing well over seven feet tall, and with muscles bulging unnaturally through his skin, the former inhabitant of San Jose inspired instant respect. Clutched in each hand was a weapon crafted from scrap metal that three men would have struggled to lift, let alone wield.

"Daniel, Yes?"

The Banu Haqim merely nodded.

'Lumpy' casually pushed open the heavy double doors that led to Alonzo's home, and indicated that they were free to enter.

The Nosferatu elders domain had expanded even more since Daniel's last visit. Strange creatures could be barely discerned through the red liquid that filled their tanks and containers. Hundreds of cages of varying sizes filled a cavernous area to the left and dozens of tubes and pipes led from this section and off into the sewer walls. A constant flow of rats moved in and out of them, performing tasks for their master.

Alonzo emerged from a room on the opposite side and navigated what was part laboratory, part library and part zoo as he approached them

"Old friend. We had missed your visits. What brings you back to us?"

"I'm afraid, as usual, I'm looking for information. I also wished to explain my absence to you personally." said Daniel. "You may remember Hope, she's my 'minder'"

Alonzo Guillen - Nosferatu
Ancient Hollywood Warrens
Alonzo greeted her with the closest thing his crooked maw could get to a smile.

"Hope Romero, Clan Gangrel, former agent of Marius Walker, current census-taker for Michael Tomassio, Toreador Baron of the North East. Yes, I remember you. Welcome to my home."

"Would either of you like some refreshments before we begin? I understand that this is the done thing in normal kindred circles?"

Though the offer was appreciated, what was clearly rats blood in second-hand blood-bags wasn't exactly the most appetizing option. Though Daniel could drink pretty much anything, Hope's tastes were a little rarer. Daniel accepted one out of politeness as his old friend was clearly trying his best.

For the second time that night Daniel explained his recent withdrawal from kindred society. Though with Alonzo he was a little more open and laid out Marius's involvement in his recovery.

"Marius. A most unusual kindred that one. Never breaks his word yet trusted by no one. Of course he always gets something out of every deal, but that's hardly unusual for our kind now is it? Is your friend okay? She doesn't seem to be thirsty..." he gestured at the untouched blood-bag. He then addressed Hope directly. "If you need something stronger I have the vitae of some duskborn in the laboratory. It was obtained via fair exchange I assure you."

Marius Walker - Gangrel
Baron of Downtown, 'Fixer'
"They needed some alchemical equipment and that was the only method of payment they had available. I'd have given them it for free to be honest but Marius, who referred them to me, said to at the very least make a token charge otherwise I'd be considered a soft touch and be plagued by kindred wanting freebies..."

"I fed before we left." lied Hope. In truth she mainly consumed duskborn vitae, but it needed to first be concentrated by the alchemist under her protection and she doubted that it would give her any sustenance otherwise.

Daniel changed the subject. "I see you have a new friend staying with you." He indicated the door behind which was the hulking Nosferatu who had let them in.

"Lewellen? We met many years ago when I made my home in that cave in the hills and he needed a new home after the San Jose takeover by the Camarilla so we renewed our friendship. He's not a great conversationalist but he's a quick learner and to be brutally honest, I needed the help. He's great when I need something heavy moved and in return I provide a safe haven and all the rats blood he's likely to ever need."

"I imagine..." said Daniel, attempting to steer the conversation. "...that he'd also be useful should the Sabbat ever make their way down here?"

As expected, Alonzo had been keeping track of Sabbat activities.

Isaac Abrams - Toreador, Baron of Hollywood
"They've been quite single minded of late. Isaac has requested that I monitor the borders of his domain both above and below in order to give him advance warning of any intruders. Fortunately there has been nothing of note to report outside of his usual visitors."

"I feel somewhat responsible." admitted Daniel. "I recently went on a scouting mission with Marius that turned into a battle due to a moral decision of mine and the Sabbat assault happened not long afterwards. I also believe that my absence from kindred society has removed my finger from the 'pulse' of the city. Perhaps if I'd been active then this could have been prevented."

Daniel then changed the subject. "You mentioned Hollywood? Anything of interest you can share?" he felt a little guilty about taking advantage of Alonzo's political naivety, but he needed information.

"Sofia, you know, Michael's sister of the blood, left the area for a few nights about a week ago. Snuck out and snuck back. Isaac knew though." This was interesting. Travel over any real distance was difficult for kindred due to their vulnerability to daylight. Any journey outside of the city would therefore warrant looking into.

Velvet Velour - Toreador
Owner of Club Vesuvius
"Miss Velour has been busy too though hasn't had many meetings over the last few days. She visited, let me think, Velme of El Hermandad, Shantelle of Caplans Water Rats pack, the ever impressive Catherine DuBois, Marius. I think that was it..."

This tied into what Michael had shared about Velvet having some tasks to perform for her Baron. What had been asked of each contact would take some digging though. Daniel then asked if any particular events had seemed unusual.

"Nothing out of the ordinary. Well, there was something a little odd. I was asked to cease monitoring one of Isaac's mansions in Hollywood...He said he had an important guest stopping there who valued their privacy. He was most specific about it."

Daniel's eagerness to learn more was detected by Alonzo.

"I can give you the location but I'd avoid prying if I was you. Other kindred think I'm na├»ve but I can sense fear well enough. Isaac was afraid of this individual and I've never seen him exhibit fear of anything. Not Gary Golden, not Fortier, not Voerman, not even Marius or his brood...which makes me think that it's a subject to stay away from..."

Daniel's trigger finger began to itch. A memory of when Isaac had commanded him to slice it off as punishment for a previous slight. Anything that scared someone with that level of power over other kindred was a grave concern.

"It's daylight in an hour." interrupted Hope. "Interesting as this conversation has been, we need to head back."

They both thanked Alonzo and then made their way back to their own havens. Daniel's planned visit to see his El Hermandad contact Leo Frost would have to wait until tomorrow night.

Scene Thirty Seven - The Lotus Blossom
Leo had agreed to meet them in Downtown. He apparently had some business in Chinatown and had given them an address for somewhere called 'The Lotus Blossom'.

The Lotus Blossom - Brothel and Gambling Den, Chinatown

A quick conversation with Vin confirmed that this was a 'massage parlour' and therefore a brothel, though was also known for the high stakes poker games that went on in it's back rooms. 

Vin also informed them that Chinatowns sex trade was ran by a kindred known as 'Creamy Jade' though her real name was Monique Kim. "No-one but her closest allies use her real name." Warned Vin. "So I'd avoid being presumptuous..."

Lyko Wu - Ventrue
Head of the Blood Dragon Triads
Monique paid tribute to Lyko Wu, Chinatowns kindred ruler, but answered to The Blossoms of Downtown, and therefore also to Marius by default. Convoluted arrangements like this were common amongst kindred due to their system of boons and prestation so Daniel and Hope weren't exactly surprised that something as useful to vampires as the sex industry would be so incestuous.

He also told them that The Blossoms stayed out of Chinatown and that, according to them, Marius left its leadership to Lyko and his two childer. In other words, it's Lyko and Jade they'd need to avoid annoying while in their feeding ground.

Vin characterised Lyko as 'honourable but ruthless' and Creamy Jade as 'a fucking nutjob', though didn't elaborate on either assessment.

He did however warn Daniel not to look too closely into her activities as "'ll then feel morally obliged to do something about it and get yourself in a lot of shit..."

The establishment itself was more or less what they were expecting. Two members of the Blood Dragon Triad gang were guarding the door though they imagined that there would be others within. 

From the way they looked at Hope, Daniel could see that they were unsure about her. Her attitude seemed out of keeping with her appearance. For the second time in two nights Daniel introduced her as "His minder."

Surprisingly this seemed to relax them slightly. It seemed that tall, slim, beautiful women, who were also bodyguards, was a concept they had encountered before.

The receptionist was an attractive young Chinese woman, who adopted a practiced smile as Daniel approached. "What are your requirements for this evening?"

Leo Frost - Brujah
El Hermandad Lieutenant
Daniel told her that he had an appointment there with Leo Frost.

She escorted them to back room, past areas from which were emerging a steady traffic of customers and sex workers. Apparently the Lotus Blossom was a thriving business. Up a flight of stairs was a small landing with a door on each side and two directly ahead. She knocked on the left most one three times and the door was answered by another Blood Dragon.

"They've just finished, come in..."

The remnants of a poker game adorned the table and were currently being tidied away by a croupier. Two Chinese men, a fat Caucasian gentleman and Leo were chatting casually about their respective luck. From Leo's demeanour Daniel imagined he'd come out on top this time. The other gamblers and the dealer left a moment after they arrived.

"Long time no see, what's on your mind buddy?"

Daniel got straight to the point. "The Sabbat. That's what's on my mind..."

Leo had very strong opinions on that particular subject.

"Those fuckers turned our turf into a fucking freak show. Most of the victims were useful mortals too, you know, contacts and other valuable assets. Gloria is pissed off, and with no-one to blame she's on the look out for a target for her frustrations. We're all walking on eggshells currently."

Allison Maller - Brujah
Baron of Anaheim
"Only Allison's influence is keeping her focused on the immediate issues, we're all just waiting to see who gets it in the fucking neck...literally in this case..."

He then paused for a moment, as if considering whether to continue.

"...She also had to ask Marius's help with some of the cover up as we lost our media connections to the Sabbat, our local council guys too. He had her over a barrel, not literally of course, well as far as I know, anyway....whatever the price was she's had to pay it and she's fucked off about that too...she tried to bypass him and ask Baron Abrams first as he has media influence too but he wouldn't even see her, ' too busy...' it seems...its why I had to meet you away from the Barony. Don't want it to look like I've got split loyalties..."

"Anyway, those Sabbat bastards didn't even hang around to give us a straight fight. Velme thinks that some of the attack was personal, but fuck knows why we were singled out for this kind of attention. Maybe to drive a wedge between us and the duskborn? Not sure why they thought leaving a load of Jenna Cross lookalikes would do that. That's more likely to remind them of what Marius did to them, or your lots involvement to be honest. Ending the Cross rebellion was fuck all to do with us..."

Storytellers Note - The 'Cross Rebellion' storyline began HERE if you're interested.

'Creamy Jade' - Toreador
Madam of Chinatowns Sex Trade
Leo then fell silent as an oriental woman entered the room wearing silk robes and silver and jade jewellery. She resembled a marble statue with extremely cold, pale skin, narrow green eyes and possessed a delicate beauty. She handed a fat brown enveloped to Leo.

"Your winnings Mr Frost. I took the liberty of removing payment for your pre-game entertainment so you needn't concern yourself with forgetting about it like you did last time..."
Daniel and Hope noticed that Leo looked slightly embarrassed and a little bit afraid, before using the pause in conversation to change the subject. "Miss Kim, this is my friend Daniel, he's one of Michael Tomassio's people. An advisor on...many things..."

She nodded politely in acknowledgement, then offered her hand to Daniel.

The first thing he noticed was that her hand was cold as marble. Apparently she hadn't felt the need to give her flesh the semblance of normality. Daniel took this to mean that she dealt more with kindred than mortals though this was merely a guess. She then addressed Hope.

"...and you must be the...what's the term the Anarchs use? Census-taker for the North-East?" No hand was offered to Hope so she merely nodded in return. Hope, like most Gangrel, had an instinctual response when in the presence of another predator. Though not necessarily a warrior, Hope was sure that in her own way Creamy Jade was very dangerous indeed. So much so in fact that she felt no need to show it. The fact that she had bothered to acknowledge Hope despite not being introduced formally led the Gangrel Census-Taker to believe that she had been similarly assessed.

Gloria Martinez - Brujah
Baron of El Hermandad
Leo waited for Creamy Jade to leave the room before continuing their conversation. His relief that she was gone was almost palpable.

"I suppose..." continued Daniel, attempting to steer the conversation once more. "...that the Sabbat wiping out the Crypts Sons did you a bit of a favour though?"

His reply was what Daniel and Hope were expecting.

"Gloria wants that domain and wants it bad. It's a final victory over The Crypts Sons in a tangible form. Me and Josie have been tasked with prepping all our people ready for a war with whoever stands in our way. She has Allison's backing too and Velme is negotiating with 'The Liberated' for their support. Barons Caplan, Fortier, and Walker all seem to be of a similar mindset. I guess we'll wait and see..."

Daniel decided to share the information he had already told Chick, about a potential Sabbat hideout in the San Gabriel Mountains. After all, he'd need all the help he could get if he had to assault it.

Daniel sensed that Leo had something else to say but was hesitant to share.

"If there's something else?" prompted Daniel. "You know you can trust me, right?"

"Okay, but this goes no further..." Now he had both the Banu Haqim, and Gangrel's undivided attention.

Josie Parrish - Brujah
El Hermandad Lieutenant
"There's no fucking way we can hold that domain against forces from three different directions. Josie has told Gloria the same thing but she doesn't seem to care. With the devastation the Sabbat caused, it's debateable whether we could defend against an attack on our own Barony, and that's without splitting our forces throughout central Los Angeles. It makes no sense, but Gloria isn't crazy, so she must have her reasons. No fucking idea what they are though and she ain't fucking sharing."

As Hope and Daniel thanked Leo for his time and rose to leave, Leo handed Daniel an address on a scrap of paper. "If the shit really goes down then you can find me there. Other than me only you know about it, okay?"

As they headed back to the car, Hope and Daniel discussed what they had learnt.

"Could there be something in the Crypts Sons domain that Gloria wants?" theorized Daniel "Something that can be moved so they don't need to hold the domain for longer than it takes to acquire it and get the fuck out?"

Hope had her own theory. "Maybe they're only planning on holding it long enough for someone else to move in. An ally perhaps?"

Of course, only one name sprang to mind that both Gloria Martinez and Allison Maller would be willing to risk such a sacrifice for, and that was their sire Salvador Garcia...

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....

Daniel and Hope's players were concentrating more on the Sabbat threat and the vacant Crypts Sons Barony than the threat of the Toreador Methuselah. This was good roleplaying as they left the big political shitstorm to Michael to deal with and tasked themselves with dealing with other security concerns.

Of course this is mildly annoying for me as I like it when they ignore things that I can then bite them on the arse with later on...

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, Vincent Ghast is Scott Adkins, Dr Matthews is Mads Mikkelsen, Hope Romero is Deborah Ann Woll, Charlie 'Chick' Abbott is Lena Headey, Edward Kaya is Laurence Fishburne, Therese Voerman is Whitney Moore, Sofia Rivera is Eliza Dushku, Marius Walker is Tony Curran, Isaac Abrams is Gary Oldman, Velvet Velour is Ilona Lab, Lyko Wu is David E Collier, Leo Frost is Danny John-Jules, Allison Maller is Chloe Grace Moretz, 'Creamy Jade' is Viann Zhang Xinyu, Gloria Martinez is Ariadne Artiles and Josie Parrish is Rebecca Ferguson.

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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