Friday 27 January 2023

Vampire the Masquerade - V5 - Session One Hundred and Twenty Five - 'A Plague of Blood' (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. After over four years of plotting, one of their number is now leader of the Anarch Council of the Free States and the rest have privileged places within the Anarch hierarchy.
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 OneTwoThreeFourFive
Story Twenty Nine - 'Methuselah' - Part SixSevenEightNine and Ten
Story Twenty Nine - 'Methuselah' - Epilogue
Galerie Sanguine - 'San Francisco'
'Anarchs' -  ZeroOneTwoThree and Four
Chronicle Five - 'Blood Cults of L.A.'
Story Thirty - 'A Plague of Blood' - Part One

'The Cast' - Past and Present
This Sessions PC's are...
Michael Tomassio - Toreador, 'Baron of the North East'
Dr Daniel Matthews - Banu Haqim, 'Sherlock'
Vincent Ghast - Brujah, 'Constable of the North East'

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), Incest, Sex Work.
Other Possible Triggers: Rats.

Having decided that advancing through the sewers without the aid of a tracker, and with innumerable locations for booby-traps and ambushes, wasn't a great idea, Hope and Daniel have withdrew to the surface to reconsider their options.

Meanwhile, other information has become available to the coterie.

Scene Five  - Little Black Book
Ammaarah Weaver - Tzimisce
Census-Taker for Hollywood
The Little Black Book' belonging to the recently deceased Dominatrix, 'Mistress Sabina' has been obtained by Isaac Abrams Census-Taker, Ammaarah Weaver, who recently replaced Sofia Rivera who was given 'other duties'. The acquisition of this item was apparently done quietly and efficiently and so should be fairly free of consequences.

The clients within are referred to by gender, first initial and a surname, most of which are obviously made up. Each name is also followed by a set of abbreviations which quite obviously indicate their sexual preferences. It seems that Sabina McDonnell was a woman with a wide variety of talents.

Miss J.L. is the only name that doesn't fit the format and is seemingly a fairly recent customer, and a very well paying one at that. There is also no mention of her preferences, which is unusual as all other entries have at least one note next to them.

Ammaarah has also obtained a palmtop computer which Sabina used as an appointment book, and which the coteries resident team of hackers have already broken into and decrypted. An attempt had been made to format it's hard drive but Eric and Zipper have managed to salvage some fragments of information from it.

Most of it is fairly routine and unsurprising. 

The final entry refers to a 'Miss J.L.' who apparently paid extra for personal visits, though the location is just referred to as "The usual place..." It also looks like she'd been a customer for less than three months, though her visits were seemingly weekly. Cross referencing her time of death leads you to believe that Miss J.L. would have been the last person to see Sabine alive, though probably not free of illness, given what you know of the diseases progress.

Daniel was hoping for more, but has filed the information away in case it becomes relevant later.

Scene Six - First Clues
Max's quite obviously stolen motorbike
Max, a Gangrel who patrolled their Eastern border within the North Eastern Barony of Pasadena, arrived on a Kawasaki Ninja H2 motorbike, a street legal version of a racing only bike. This version was still capable of reaching over two hundred miles per hour and with a price tag of over thirty thousand dollars they imagined that it was probably obtained dubiously. When last they saw Max and her ghoul 'Izzy' they were using an off-road Honda, so this was definitely a recent acquisition.

Daniel noted that Max was armed with a short barrelled, pistol grip shotgun in what appeared to be a handmade custom shoulder holster. This appeared to be her only weapon though Daniel didn't rule out easily concealable bladed weapons too.

"Nice wheels..." commented Daniel

"I stole it...." replied Max "... but don't worry, no-one is going to come looking for it." Daniel decided not to ask about the fate of the previous owner. He nodded at the weapon. "You came prepared I see." Max patted the shotgun almost affectionately "It's one of Izzy's, she made the holster too. She's good with her hands."

'Max' - Gangrel
Sweeper for the North East
Max then approached Hope and inclined her head in deference, though kept eye-contact. "What's the job, boss?" Hope explained that they needed someone who could track a target through a sewer.

Max's answer was quite reassuring "I can track through sewers alight. Once you get acclimatised to what smells are meant to be there and which ones aren't, it's not that tricky. I had a Haven in a sewer once. Izzy hated it though..."

"We're just looking for now..." clarified Hope, who was well aware that Max had a tendency to confront threats head-on. Normally this was fine, but on this occasion Hope wanted to make sure they knew what they were walking into before acting. " you wait for my go-ahead before doing anything impulsive. Clear?" Max confirmed that she understood completely. Hope Romero had considerable status with the city's Gangrel and an enviable count of victories for a kindred with only a decade of unlife behind her. Subsequently, the sweepers under her command tended to defer to her authority without too much resistance.

Daniel then added his own warning "Whatever we're after apparently stank of decay and might have something to do with this Blood Plague so we're being extremely careful about what and who we get into close contact with."

After being shown to the sewer entrance, Max dropped through the sewer hatch and into the water below without bothering to use the ladder, she looked comfortable in the unwelcoming environment, almost at home in fact. Hope shrugged and followed her down, though used the ladder. Daniel did the same.

Gary Golden - Nosferatu
Baron of the Warrens
As they prepared to move on, Daniel sent a message to Michael, to let him know that they were going underground and that there was a real possibility that they'd need to speak to Gary Golden, the Nosferatu Baron of the Warrens, at some point. Last time they'd journeyed this way they'd lost phone signal very quickly so Daniel sent the message while they were still near the entrance.

Hope's eyes glowed a dull red as she activated her ability to see in the darkness below. She also noticed that Max also was showing no signs of being hindered by the lack of light, though her eyes lacked the distinctive internal glow that usually indicated the use of this talent.

Daniel meanwhile used his preternatural senses to find his way ahead. He also sought out defensive positions along their route, should they need to fall back at some point. There weren't many, and those few wouldn't last against a concerted attack, but something was better than nothing.

"How long ago did you travel through here?" asked Max, causing the other two kindred to pause.

"About an hour ago." replied Hope. "Why?"

Max reply raised some concerns "There's been a kindred through here since then. Mortals think they can get clean but they always smell of something, with kindred you can smell their stuff but not them, unless they've fed, then they stink of their prey. This one hasn't fed recently but they're clean too, so I doubt they're your giant smelly mystery man. Did you say there was meant to be someone on guard, cuz there wasn't anyone watching us arrive..."

The Mysterious Plaguebearer?
Daniel needed this clarifying and so asked if Max was sure.

Max then proceeded to list all the individuals who had been within the water works, and their exact locations, despite not actually entering the buildings at all. "So yes. I'm sure..." she concluded. she then pointed out several areas where she was sure another kindred had walked. Neither Hope nor Daniel could really see the disturbances that she had noticed, but had no reason to doubt her abilities.

Daniel mused through the possibilities for a while before speaking. "Owen was fairly neat and tidy. He didn't strike me as the 'wading through the sewers on a whim' type of kindred. He seemed more than happy to let us do that on his behalf."

Max's assessment was somewhat more direct. "He's a shit tracker. He's left a trail any fucker could follow."

"Is it possible he entered these tunnels after us and got ahead?" queried Daniel. "No." replied Max. Apparently deciding that an explanation about why was unnecessary. "If there's no other signs of movement down here, then follow Owen's trail." Instructed Daniel.

The tracker listened to the command, but still waited for a nod from Hope before indicating that she understood.

Ria - Gangrel
Census Taker for Downtown
"We've met some other talented Gangrel trackers over the years." began Daniel. He was pretending to make casual conversation but really he was trying to confirm a rumour he'd heard that Max was a childe or grandechilde of one of the kindred census-takers of Downtown L.A. known as 'The Circle' "One of The Circle helped us follow a trail in one of the Gangrel Protectorates up in the North West. Have you encountered them yourself?"

Max was quite open in her reply. "One of the Circle is my sire, Ria to be specific, but I only found that out quite recently. She had no idea I existed. I was a pity-siring I think. I came from a shithole, and my dad was an abusive asshole, I think Ria was hoping I'd kill them but I didn't. I just grabbed Izzy and fucked off. I don't think Marius even knows I exist so it's not like the family connection is any use to me anyway..."

"And Izzy?" prompted Daniel. Curious about the ghoul that Max seemed so attached to. He regretted asking the question immediately after getting the answer.

"Izzy is my daughter. I had her young. She's also technically speaking my sister. Do you need me to draw you a picture or is that enough digging into my past to keep you going?"

Max was obviously angry, though Daniel could tell that the target of this was not himself, despite her comment. She seemed to be bitter about her past but her anger was focussed elsewhere. Likely at her father.

Hope, who had been listening to the conversation, made a mental note to look into Max's father. Maybe she and Max could pay him a visit together at some point in the future...

Scene Seven - Surprises in the Dark
Max stopped for a moment, bent down and placed one hand lightly on the water. "Just rats. Weird, I can smell tar as well..."

Tar? Or something else?
This comment triggered something in Hope. In her mortal life she had worked in the army with IED's and all manner of similar devices. One of the common misconceptions was that plastic explosives smelt of almonds. Though this was true for very early versions, modern plastic explosives like C4 had a 'faint bituminous odour, like pitch...or tar...

"Stay right there Max..." said Hope, as she lay a restraining hand on her shoulder. "It might be nothing, but that tar smell could be something more dangerous. Stay behind me for now. If anything goes bang I'm more likely to survive it than you." The tracker didn't argue. Daniel meanwhile moved behind some improvised cover.

She was somewhat relieved to find a barrel, clearly leaking tar, had floated down the sewer from somewhere ahead. Max seemed to be content that this was the source of the smell, though Hope had a closer look at the container in case this was some kind of elaborate double-bluff.

As they reached another junction, Max didn't even pause before turning to the right. Before turning the corner she explained what she was doing.

Gloria Martinez - Brujah
Baron of Whittier
"Our mystery clean guy went this way, so did someone else, looks like Mr Clean was following six, no seven mortals. They smell odd...not beggar odd, diseased and dying odd...they came from that way..." she indicated the tunnel that would have taken them straight ahead. "The walking dead were down there, just waiting I think...just guessing though..."

Daniel had a theory. "Do you think Owen is trying to solve the problem himself so as to not look weak in front of us and Gloria?"

Hope wasn't sure. "Gangrel are usually quite pragmatic so I'd like to think not, but like any clan we also get the occasional idiot so it's a possibility I guess..."

After another fifteen minutes of travel, Max stopped again, but said nothing. She raised a hand behind her and spread her fingers giving the standard military signal for wait, then moved backwards slowly towards Daniel and Hope. "Mr Clean has stopped, but here's the worrying bit. I can smell his stuff in several different places, traces of vitae too. I think he'd dead. Not 'us' dead', actually dead dead."

"Lets slow our pace a bit." suggested Daniel, drawing one of his silenced pistols as he did. "No sense in rushing into trouble."

Hope slid a shotgun from beneath her jacket. Daniel raised an eye-brow as Hope rarely used firearms, but he understood the need. No-one with any sense wanted to go toe to toe with a potential carrier of the plague. Especially as Hopes preferred combat style usually ended up with her covered in bits of whoever or whatever she was fighting. 

Max unclipped the retaining strap that secured her own shotgun, but left it in place for now.

Hope Romero's Shotgun - Mossberg Shockwave

Slowly, and with senses on high alert, the trio advanced.

What they presumed, based on the scraps of clothing, was the torso of Owen Frazier, was hanging from a chain crudely wrapped around his body and slung over a pipe running along the sewer roof. His limbs had been similarly displayed, each strung up individually. His head however was missing.

"Whoever he was following isn't very far ahead..." says Max, apparently having decided that silence was no longer necessary. "There's nine now, no idea how I missed the other two, unless they came from further down this tunnel...their blood smells sanguine...odd really, the scent doesn't match...people aren't usually happy about being sick...they're all ghouls too, not that that's going to help them much against us, but I thought you'd like to know..."

A Sewer Rat and/or a Tasty Snack
Both Daniel and Hope were curious about how she could tell such things merely by smell, and at such a distance, but took her at her word. She'd proven that she knew what she was doing several times already. A moment later a rat scurried up to Max, as if it had been drawn to her. As she reached down and bit into it before draining it dry, this theory was confirmed. "Got hungry..." she explained.

Daniel wasn't sure how much of Max's vitae had been used to power her abilities up to now, but apparently it was enough for her to have felt the loss. "I didn't hear a fight..." commented Daniel.

"Neither did I..." replied Max. "...they must have took him quickly and real quiet like..."

While this debate was going in, Hope was observing what was left of Owen. She noticed a wire wrapped around the body and threaded through the chains. It looked like equipment wire. Booby-trapping dead bodies was not unheard of in her wartime experiences. She wasn't sure whether there was anything to gain from defusing it, as long as they didn't set it off. 

The device itself was strapped to the back of Owen's body, though wires attached to his severed limbs would likely trigger the device if it was moved. It was unsophisticated and clearly improvised. The explosives could have been made by anyone with access to the internet, of possessing even basic chemical knowledge. The core explosive had been surrounded by nails, screws and small pieces of jagged metal which appeared to be coated in a sickly looking mixture of coagulated blood. 

"Oh, shit..." muttered Hope, as she realised that there was a mobile phone attached to it too. Hoping the others would follow her lead, Hope shouted "Get Down!" and promptly hit the deck.

The detonation obliterated the remnants of Owen's body and filled the air with shrapnel and fire.

Interlude - Replacements
Marcelina Black - Ventrue
The Circulatory System, L.A. 'Farm'
Marcelina Black, head of the Circulatory Systems 'Farm' just outside Los Angeles, scrutinised Arla Hartley's replacement. Hopefully this one wouldn't be so stupid as to get herself inconveniently destroyed. "You are aware of the fate of your predecessor?" enquired Marcelina, despite already knowing that they would have been thoroughly briefed.

The pretty young thing, in appearance at least, smiled sweetly before replying. "She failed in a fairly simple task, and paid for that failure with her unlife. Though it was no great loss, from what I'm told, she won't be a very hard act to follow..."

This one would definitely need watching, thought Marcelina. Ambitious, arrogant, and a personal recommendation of Bronwyn, an original founder of the Circulatory System. In it's current modern form that is. She almost certainly already had her eye on the big chair. 

Marcelina didn't necessarily consider this a bad thing. Arla had been too stupid to be a threat and Miss Black had to admit that it was possible that this had blunted her own edge. With any luck this new one would help to keep her sharp.

"As you may or may not be aware, a plague of sorts is spreading through the mortals of this city and has now made the transition to kindred. I therefore anticipate an exponential increase in the need for our services from those keen to avoid a polluted food chain. I will, of course, start you off with some less demanding customers and a number of simple tasks to start. It would, after all, be inconvenient in the extreme if I had to replace another subordinate..."

Celia, smiled once more. "What's first?" she asked

Celia Monroe - Malkavian, The Circulatory System.

"First we need to acquire enough vessels to keep up with the increased demand. Do you have any ideas about how to accomplish this?"

"A few..." Celia replied.

Scene Eight - Bang, You're Dead(er)
The whispers of Hope's Fae charm failed to quieten the voices within, and she fled from the flames as the Beast that all kindred carried within their souls succumbed to fear of the fire, and she entered a state of frenzy. All that mattered to her now was escaping the source of her fear.

Storytellers Note - The Fae Charm is an occult item Hope gained many sessions ago. In mechanical terms we decided it gives her an extra die to resist Frenzy. Apparently this time that wasn't enough...

Max's Shotgun - Remington Tac-13

Techniques of control taught to him by the Bahari, enabled Daniel to overcome his own beast, but barely, as he emerged from behind the pile of detritus he'd used for cover. Max seemed unaffected as she rose from beneath the water, shotgun already to hand.

From the chaos emerged the nine ghouls who presumably somehow ended the unlife of the Gangrel Owen Frazier.  Their clothes were ragged and dirty, and their armament consisted of a variety of close combat weapons, many of which were improvised. Alongside machetes and combat knives were kitchen implements such as carving knives, cleavers, hatchets and what looked like one half of an enormous pair of shears. They moved towards the two remaining kindred with surprising speed and vigour.

Max's Ammunition
Daniel heard a shotgun being discharged and the closest of the attackers was torn apart by the blast. He wasn't sure what load she was using but whatever it was made a terrible mess of the target without overpenetration, well, not much anyway. Daniel aimed his own pistols and with uncanny accuracy put a 10mm round neatly through the heads of four more enemies.

Now a safe distance from the source of the explosion, Hope forced the voice of the Beast back down and managed to come to her senses. Reasonably sure that Daniel was never going to let her live this down, she turned back.

The remaining foes selected their targets. three headed towards Daniel, evidently deciding he was the greatest threat, while a single figure charged towards Max. A long range shot from the returning Hope came from way beyond the optimum range of her weapon and only slightly wounded one of those approaching Daniel.

His view somewhat obscured by a stocky enemy to the front of the three, Daniel decided to focus his attention upon them and emptied both magazines into them. His satisfaction turned to irritation as they ignored what should have been fatal damage and continued forward. Max's single opponent was nearly upon her, and she raised her weapon once more and fired it into their face at point-blank range. As their skull exploded, she turned away closing her eyes and mouth to avoid being tainted by any disease they might be carrying.

Daniel Matthews, Banu Haqim - Showing off a Bit...

Hope closed the distance at speed, firing as she did. Daniel's closest foe was torn apart by multiple impacts as Daniel himself dived aside to avoid being covered in blood and body parts. As he leapt away he aimed both weapons in mid air and finished off the last two ambushers. His elation at the two kills subsided as he landed in the dank sewer water. He then attempted to style out the clumsy landing with a combat roll, but noticed Hope watching him and grinning.

"Nice shot..." quipped Daniel, somewhat sarcastically. He then looked at the multiple holes in the sewer wall by where he'd been standing only a few moments earlier. "Not your best idea though..."

The Cultists Symbol
Each of the mortals had the same symbol somewhere on their bodies. Some had merely drawn it upon themselves in a variety of unmentionable substances, others had carved it into their flesh and yet others had tattoos made in the prison-style, done with only black ink and had dark outlines with little or no interior detail or shading.

The symbol was a star with eight wavy points and a skull in the middle missing a lower jaw. The teeth on the upper jaw were jagged like a vampires. They had seen this symbol before. It was on the wall outside the former crack house where they had taken Sofia and were subsequently ambushed by Lubbock's followers.

While Max and Hope reloaded their weapons and Hope kept watch, Daniel began the unenviable task of looking through the pockets of the dead. Several still had identification on them, though most did not. One name leapt out at him, the identification named the corpse as Calvin David, the male escort who went missing from Downtown. Though his sister, also missing, didn't appear to be amongst the dead.

Daniel noticed that Max liberated a few small items of jewellery from the deceased, including a particularly nice bracelet, but turned a blind eye to it. It wasn't like it mattered much at this point anyway.

Max then got up suddenly and looked around "I think the explosions attracted some attention. There's movement from ahead of us, and also from behind us..." A moment later, Hope and Daniel also heard the sounds.

Once more the trio found themselves forced to find some cover.

Scene Nine - Melinda
Melinda - Gangrel
'The Swarm'
They then heard a woman's voice call out. 

"You down there. Some nosey cunt has phoned the police to report an underground explosion, so whoever you are, come with us. We'll deal with damage limitation later...or you can take your chances with the mortal authorities I guess...or I suppose we could kill and eat you but that isn't exactly going to help with the whole 'masquerade breach' thing now is it..."

Hope and Daniel vaguely recognised the woman as one of the three kindred who accompanied Tilly Kelly, Mistress of the Swarm, to the Council meeting after the Lubbock incident. As she definitely wasn't Quinn, or male, they could only conclude that this was Melinda. They also knew that Melinda was being advised by Vin's 'Sister of the Blood' Georgiana, though Vin hadn't mentioned her since that revelation many months ago.

The rag-tag group behind her had the now familiar mix of fear, hatred and low cunning that they associated with the Swarm.

"We'll take option one.." replied Hope. " soon as we know what you're doing down here..."

"We're investigating the Blood Curse of course. Tilly is concerned about it spreading to our Herds, and most of us are concerned about Tilly culling us if food supplies run low. Score some points, avoid being lunch, pretty much the normal night to night concerns of having a sire whose both clinically insane and more cunning than all her offspring combined...Consume or be consumed is basically the Swarms raison d'etre..."

Tilly Kelly - Gangrel
The Mistress of the Swarm
It seemed that all the Swarm members of note were well aware of their leaders fragile grip on reality and were all, to one extent or another, playing the game of survival.

Melinda gestured to one of the more intelligent looking of her followers and he handed her a cloth, satchel-like bag. She removed several explosive devices from it. Four looked like they were incendiary grenades, the fifth and sixth were high explosive ones but from a different manufacturer.

"At least we can make it difficult for the authorities..." commented Melinda.

Daniel could see that Melinda was clearly pleased at the idea of blowing something up, the incendiary aspect seems to be particularly pleasing to her.

Hope was more concerned about the placing of the devices than where they had been acquired. She noted that Meinda placed them fairly optimally, though Hope also noticed what seemed to be a gas pipe whose utilisation might well make the destruction more complete, though this would also need them to get further away from the resulting explosion. Gas explosions weren't exactly what you'd call predictable. It's also possible that the detonation would trigger such an explosion anyway and in her experience controlled explosions were far better than uncontrolled ones.

"We might need to leave a bigger space between us and the explosives when they're triggered, than it might first appear." stated Hope, fairly diplomatically. "Just in case that gas pipe has actual gas flowing through it..." Melinda looked where Hope indicated and nodded. 

One of 'The Swarms' rank and file muttered something under their breath and their leaders expression changed almost immediately. A clawed hand grasped them by the face with preternatural speed. 

Taking Criticism Somewhat Badly...
Talon's punched through eye sockets, and cheek bones, then she twisted and pulled their face from the rest of the skull, watching with glee as they fell forward into the water.

"What the fuck was that about?" Hope asked Daniel, but quiet enough so only they both could hear. "I think..." answered Daniel. "...that they said something along the lines of 'I told you so', and Melinda apparently doesn't take criticism particularly well. That's not the worst thing though..."

Hope waited for Daniel to elaborate.

"That wound, though nasty, probably wouldn't have killed them outright. It's more likely that they drowned in the sewer water..." Max who had been eavesdropping had another concern. "I hope that rat I ate wasn't one of her pets..."

"Are you going to risk going back the way you came or do you want to follow us to an alternate way out?" asked Melinda, between licking blood from her fingertips.

As they made the decision to follow Melinda and her pack, a detonation rocked the corridor as the explosives went off, followed by a chain reaction as the gas-line added to the magnitude. Hope doubted there'd be anything left for the authorities to find, so that was one positive at least.

Scene Ten - Follow the Leader
'The Swarm' - Kindred, Ghouls, Blood Bound
Unlike her sire, Melinda led from the front, and had a level of confidence bordering on arrogance. Swarm members were directed to investigate anything even vaguely suspicious and it was clear to them all that she saw them as little more than cannon-fodder. Max scouted ahead without prompting and Melinda seemed content to let her do so while continuously reinforcing the point to her horde that it's she who was in charge.

The tunnels become more derelict as you travelled, as well as becoming narrower, but the Swarm seemed to be becoming more confident and relaxed as if they were within familiar territory. They imagined that Gloria Martinez would be less than happy to discover their level of comfort while traversing the warrens beneath her very feet.

Max then appeared from behind them, which was somewhat of a surprise as when they last saw her she was ahead. "I thought you might like to know that we're being followed." she announced.

Daniel asked for more detail,

"One individual, kindred certainly, very sneaky, very careful, Nosferatu I'd guess though obviously there are other Clans with a knack for moving quietly, anyway they're not smelly, so probably aren't the one you came down to look for..."

Both Daniel and Hope slowed their pace, gradually falling back towards the rear of the pack. As soon as a suitable hiding place was passed, he silently moved behind it to wait for their follower. Hope advanced a little further, then she too found a place of concealment.

Sister Maladie - Clan Unknown
The approaching figure paused before any ambush can be triggered, laughed in a high pitched female voice, then turned and headed rapidly back they way they came, blending expertly into the darkness and fading from sight.

Realising that their one lead was escaping, Hope called for Max, who appeared at their side a second later. "Track them, but don't go to far. Ambush's seem to be these fuckers favourite game..." As she moved swiftly along the indicated route, Daniel followed. Unfortunately he soon lost her in the darkness. It was another ten minutes before he discovered her location.

The tracker was sitting on an old crate waiting for him to catch up. 

"They went that way..." she said, indicating a narrow side passage, it's entrance half obscured with a pile of bricks. " I decided to wait. It looks like an excellent place to get murdered in, don't you think?" Max handed Daniel a piece of thread.

"This was caught by the entrance. A little too high to have been left there by accident in my opinion." observed Max.

"What do you think?" asked Daniel, deferring to Max's superior tracking skills.

"I think..." replied Max. "...that Owen had a similar conversation with himself a few hours ago, and made the choice to go after them...and then ended up as an explosive laden jigsaw...and Hope did tell me to be careful..."

Daniel desperately wanted to follow their mysterious pursuer, as he hated leaving loose ends, but Max was correct. This had 'ambush' written all over it. "We head back." he concluded.


After another hour or so of travelling, Melinda pointed them towards a doorway concealed within a dark alcove filled with boxes.

"Head through there and we'll close it up after you. It leads to some stairs topped by a hatch into an industrial unit basement. Once you hit the surface you can make your arrangements to get back to Pasadena or wherever you're heading. It'll be light in about two and a half hours so you should have plenty of time to get to safety..."

Hope thanked Melinda, and the three headed to the surface.


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'm not going to make this easy for them. They apparently have a well prepared enemy, implementing a scheme that may have been many years in the planning.

And now that enemy knows that someone's onto them...

Song Lyrics
Also, The quote in the header is from the following song, should any-one be interested...


Further Acknowledgements
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 Matt Bomer, Johnny 'Roach' West is Kurt Kobain, Vincent 'Vin' Ghast is Scott Adkins, Dr Daniel Matthews is Mads Mikkelsen, Hope Romero is Deborah Ann Woll, Marie is Eva Green, Mr Hertz is Charles Dance, Sofia Rivera is Eliza Dushku, Ammaarah Weaver is Stefani Germanotta, Max is Milla Jovovich, Ria is Amanda Tapping, Gloria Martinez is Ariadne Artiles, Marcelina Black is Carrie Anne Moss, Celia Monroe is Elsie Fisher, Melinda is Alice Pagani, Tilly Kelly is Anna Paquin and Sister Maladie is Sheila Vand.

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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