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 OneTwoThreeFourFive and Six

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

The Storyteller
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: Imprisonment
Other Possible Triggers: Blood, Disease (Plague)

Storytellers Note - This one took a little longer to write as it needed to include some interludes that tied up  number of loose ends and added context to some of what the players had learned. It's also longer in length than the last few write-ups so I'd get a beverage and some snacks before you start.

The coterie now had a potential location for the Sabbat 'Pack' who called themselves The Brotherhood of the Ninth Circle. Unfortunately, before they could act they'd need to deal with two urgent matters.

Firstly, they needed to prevent a war between Baron's Myranda of The Wilds and Gloria Martinez of Whittier which could well weaken the Anarch Free States enough to make the Sabbat's plans far easier to implement. Secondly, they needed to investigate a possible antidote to the plague, which unfortunately meant visiting Tilly Kelly, the so-called 'Mistress of the Swarm', a dangerous and quite insane Gangrel who ruled much of the area below the city.

Scene Twenty Seven - A Social Call
Michael's phone began to ring. It was the number he had logged for Marius's psychotic ghoul assistant Victoria, but something told him that on this occasion it wouldn't be her on the other end of the line.

"Evening Marius..." guessed Michael. quite correctly in fact "Is this a social call?"

If Marius was surprised about this, it didn't show in his voice.

Eric Moore - Nosferatu
'Vigilante Hacker'
"Michael. You can skip the coded speak. My tech guy has been in touch with Eric, we are 'end to end encrypted' whatever the fuck that means."

Michael decided to let this comment go. He was well aware that Marius was technically savvy enough to know exactly what that meant, but the Toreador Baron was now quite used to Marius changing his personality to suit his immediate needs, and in order to make getting his own way more likely. Michael was also mildly amused that despite the Nosferatu computer expert Eric being a former operative of Marius's, that he had instead contacted him through an intermediary. Having been forced to deal with Eric himself on several occasions, he understood completely. Eric was almost as irritating as he was useful, perhaps more so on a particularly bad day.

"It is actually a social call...or a close approximation. I'm informed that Myranda has been in touch in regards to a delicate matter involving broken agreements and alternate travel routes?"

Michael was also well aware that Myranda Maria, childe of Aviana Maria, and therefore a grandechilde of Marius, was well favoured by him. It was therefore almost inevitable that he would take a personal interest in this turn of events. He also knew better than to give Marius too much information until he knew what angle he was playing. He therefore decided not to reply immediately in the hope that Marius might let something slip that he could use.

Storytellers Note - Watching Michael's player gradually become better and better at dealing with Marius has been quite satisfying.

Myranda Maria - Gangrel
'The Wilds Pack'
"I was curious about the generosity of your offer. Yes, I know that Myranda offered to return the favour but I'm reasonably sure that was unprompted, but I can't see what you can possibly gain by potentially drawing yourself into a conflict that doesn't concern you so I'm going to presume that this was one of those 'doing the right thing' events that you occasionally do, or am I missing some factor yet to filter to me via the usual channels?"

Michael concluded that Marius was simply 'fishing' for information and so decided to give him only what he was happy for him to know, or probably already did.

"Gloria seems to be posturing and helping out Myranda was the best way of buying everyone some time. It also gives me an ally who might be of assistance when it comes to breaking the unity of Salvador Garcia, Allison Maller and Gloria Martinez. Three united Barons, led by one with firm ideas of his own, are going to make it more difficult for me to 'guide' the council into making the correct decisions."

This reasoning seemed to satisfy Marius, for now at least.

"In return for this service you have done my grandechilde, I'm going to do something uncharacteristic and give you some information for free, twice in fact... ...if one of your more tactical followers are around you might want to put me on speaker..."

Michael waved over Daniel, who had been not so subtly eavesdropping on the conversation anyway, and Vin who had arrived earlier to exchange some information with Mr Hertz, the coteries Nosferatu accountant. Michael then asked Marius to continue.

Leo Frost - Brujah
Lieutenant of Baron Gloria Martinez
"I am reliably informed that Baron Martinez has moved a group of her followers to her border, which also happens to be your border, at a small warehouse unit, which is coincidentally in striking distance of the closest point between the road you allowed Myranda to use, and Gloria's own domain. Possibly she's just curious..."

Daniel had been instrumental in deciding upon Myranda's route through their domain and so it took him mere moments to calculate the location that was being referred to.

"What's the strength of the strike group?" asked Daniel.

"Four Brujah, led by Leo Frost, you know him, he's one of the few competent agents she has left and one of the few of those useful ones that's still unconditionally loyal to her. Of course a constantly reinforced blood bond does that, even if the feelings are pathetically one-sided. Their sweeper scouted the location but she won't be there...too busy scouting an entire border on her own now that Owen's no longer with us..."

Vin had a tactical observation of his own. "Gloria's lot are going to get themselves fucked up if they try anything. They'll run into half of the Wilds Pack, and likely our own sweepers too. If we're forced to get involved then the shit's going to really hit the fucking fan..."

Daniel knew that Leo was attracted to Baron Martinez, though the blood bond explained a lot too. He also knew that Vin was quite correct. Sneaking up on Gangrel wasn't easy, and surprise was the only way that such a small force of kindred would stand a chance against Myranda and her inner circle. 

Their most powerful ally, the ancient Gangrel Nicodemus, was unlikely to be travelling with them, but even the last amongst them would make mincemeat of most attackers.

Marius then shared his second piece of information.

"Somewhat related is that Salvador Garcia was well aware of his childe's plan to prohibit access across Whittier. He didn't encourage her...I'm told...but he didn't exactly try to dissuade her either. Makes you wonder what he'd have to gain by a conflict that drew everyone North and likely got his childe torn into pieces. You'd think he'd want her protecting his Eastern border, or someone at least..."

Harvey Caplan - Ventrue
Baron of the South Coast
Daniel had some theories on this.

Garcia could be using Gloria to draw out a conflict in the north so as to relieve some pressure on his own forces from Priss, of the Barony of the Angels, who was pressuring his northern border. Garcia's eldest childe Valeria was certain to be given control of Whittier should Gloria be destroyed, which couldn't help but strengthen that domain, making that border far more secure than it currently was under Gloria.

Another worrying possibility was that with the north distracted, and the east secured, the weakened South Coast Barony would be his next logical step. Then he'd need to merely cut a deal with Fortier that would give him some of the territory seized to the west in return for not contesting the rest, or something similar at least.

Effectively Gloria's sacrifice could well solve a lot of Salvador Garcia's problems. However Daniel was unsure about what Gloria had done to make Garcia so willing to throw her to the wolves. Garcia could be ruthless but he wasn't completely amoral either. So either Daniel was wrong in his assumptions, or Gloria had fucked up massively in some way that the rest of L.A. had yet to hear about.

"While I have you on the line..." began Daniel. "...I'd like to ask you a favour...I need to speak to Tilly...in person..." All present were then rewarded with the rarity that was a Marius caught completely by surprise. "You want to do what? Why?" asked Marius, incredulously.

Daniel explained that several leads they had obtained pointed to Tilly as being a possible source of information on the Plague. There was also mention of a kindred with curative vitae whose description could match the Mistress of the Swarm.

The Blood Plague - Origin Unknown
Tilly was in Paris when the Plague hit. That one was widely regarded as a Sabbat project...it had all their hallmarks...but now you mention it, no, I don't think any of her brood caught the plague. I've lost a few to it over the centuries but as far as I know, Not Tilly...

"On the subject of a meeting, remember she has the emotional maturity of a capricious child, I mean child without the 'e' by the way, and is about as predictable as British weather, and nothing I say to her is going to make a fucking difference if she decides to eat whoever you send. Just so you know the risks...but if you still want me to make it happen then I'll see what I can do..."

Daniel felt the need to clarify his position a little. "It's not that I want to meet her. I need to know what she knows, and confirm some suspicions. If I could do that from a safe distance I would, but that doesn't seem like an option. I'm going to see if Hope will accompany me, as I'm hoping she'll be more cooperative if I have a Gangrel with me..."

Marius agreed that this was a good idea.

"Fine...head to Hallowbrook. Someone will escort you into the sewer access area and a guide will take you as far as they dare. then you're on your own...good luck, I guess..." Then the phone went dead as Marius abruptly hung up.  "I'm going to need Hope." stated Daniel.

"I presume you mean the person, not the concept?" clarified Michael with a smile. "First we meet up with Salvador Garcia. Then you can take your trip into the sewers."

"Just us?" asked Daniel.

"No." replied Vin, as he loaded a twenty-round drum of solid slugs into one of his fully automatic shotguns and placed the loaded weapon into a canvas carrying case. "I'll be coming along too."

Interlude - 'Fox'
Isaac 'Ike' Griffiths - Brujah
AKA Spiculus, the Immortal Gladiator
Isaac 'Ike' Griffiths, The Immortal Gladiator', and guiding force behind the many kindred fight clubs around the world, had kept his word. The Gangrel prisoners held captive in one of his 'Fight Clubs' had been released, and their captors had been punished for an act that went against the core concept of Ike's clubs, namely honourable combat. The 'punishment' had been severe, and none had survived it.

Eight of the nine captive Gangrel had been handed over to Marius. One of the former prisoners had told Ike that he didn't give a fuck what Marius wanted, he had his own unlife to get back to, and Ike had simply let him leave. He had no intention of letting him swap one subjugation for another. Three had already had to be staked for transportation , driven mad by their ordeal, but those were now Marius's problem.


Leanna - Duskborn 'Daydrinker'
Manipulator and Seductress
The staked kindred had been moved to a secure location and were currently under the care of Leanna, one of Marius's agents who, amongst many talents, was an exceptionally capable deprogrammer and influencer of minds. If they could be bought to a semblance of coherency, then they would. 

The alternative, unfortunately would be a necessity to ensure that they were no threat to the masquerade, and that would mean their destruction. In the shadow of the Second Inquisition, such loose cannons could not be allowed to exist.

Two of the remaining five had accepted places in existing Oratory packs, a third had a military background that made him useful for some of the organisations less well publicised activities, and a fourth had been granted safe passage back to his former home city. It was the last that was the problem. One of Marius's 'lost' childer. A childe who clearly had good reason to hate her sire.


Jagged claws left a barely noticeable crease in Marius's cheek as Florence lashed out at her sire. A second and third strike were equally ineffective, yet Florence persisted. Marius let her continue for several more seconds before casually blocking the next few strikes.

"Did that make you feel any better?" he asked, as his childe stepped back.

Florence 'Fox' Mercado - Gangrel
Childe of Marius
"You took my life away you fucking bastard." she spat. "And why? I was fucking happy with him. He'd have made me into one of us anyway. You embraced me just so he couldn't have me you petty minded fuck. You ruined everything..."

"That..." replied Marius. "...isn't entirely accurate. I gave you the gift of unlife because I saw some potential in you. To Grafton you were a toy. The momentary plaything of a Brujah whose only credibility was gained via his association with another far more notable member of his clan. Once he'd got bored he'd have drained you dry and found himself another blood doll. You were his slave and I set you free..."

It was clear that she had her doubts, but something about what Marius had said rang true. "You abandoned me too..."

"True..." he agreed. "...and I'd like to make it up to you. Give me an hour of your time, and if after that you're not convinced then I'll arrange for you to be transported anywhere in the world you please, with enough resources to ensure that you never need to rely on another kindred...ever..."

Victoria watched them both leave the room to continue their discussion, with Florence still believing she was making her own choices and possessing her own free will. But unfortunately for her it was already too late. Marius's needs and desires were already supplanting the girls own and soon she'd be just enough extension of his will, just like his other childer had now become.

Through her they'd get to Grafton, and through Grafton to one of only two kindred who knew the location of what Marius currently sought. Xaviar was gone, destroyed years ago, but the other still remained.

Theodore Bell was the lock, and Miss Florence 'Fox' Mercado would be the key.

Scene Twenty Eight - Salvador Garcia
Daniel's Armory - 'Just in Case'
Daniel drove them to the meeting in his own vehicle. Though lighter armoured than Michael's, his was faster, and they might need to leave the meeting in a hurry. It also had an armoury of weapons concealed within. Michael sat in the back, while Vin rode 'shotgun'. Literally in this case.

Garcia's chosen meeting place was a community centre within a predominantly Hispanic neighbourhood of central Los Angeles. The area was slightly run down but relatively tidy and also fairly quiet at this time of night. The community centre had four cars parked outside, as well as a flatbed truck and a van, and the lights were on. Two guards flanked the door, and though casually dressed, had the mannerisms of men who were quite capable of defending themselves.

As they approached, one moved his jacket aside to reveal a handgun tucked into his waist band. The other watched them impassively.

Salvador Garcia - Brujah
Anarch 'Icon', Revolutionary
"Qué deseas?" he said.

"I'm sorry...." replied Michael. "...I don't speak Spanish."

"I do..." interrupted Vin, to both Michael and Daniel's surprise. "He said 'What do you want?' But I'm reasonably sure he speaks perfect English and is just being a prick."

Michael informed the guard that he had an appointment to speak with Salvador Garcia. As Vin had predicted, the guard understood perfectly.

The guard escorted them through an empty communal room, up a flight of stairs and into a meeting room of sorts. Posters and pin-boards advertised some local events, but otherwise it was quite unremarkable.

Salvador Garcia was sitting at a table in one corner, his eldest Childe Valeria was sitting next to him. In each of the other three corners of the room a kindred bodyguard had been stationed. All were heavily armed and making no effort to conceal the fact.

"Take a seat Baron. or do you prefer Arbiter?" asks Salvador. Michael noticed Valeria audibly scoff at the second honorific.

"Arbiter is my title at meetings of the council, Baron will do here if you require something official, but Michael is fine too." He then decided to test a theory about Valeria's reaction and added. "The title wasn't picked by me, and I didn't seek out the position either. Ones actions are more important than their perceived rank, don't you agree?"

Valeria - Brujah
Iconoclast, Eldest Childe of Garcia
Garcia's reaction was noncommittal, though Michael noticed that Valeria was looking at him with marginally less scorn than she had done initially. 

He also observed that the guards were more interested in Vin, standing in the doorway, than they were in him. Given his reputation for violence and intimidation, this was quite understandable. Daniel was standing just behind his Baron, and was certain to be unobtrusively armed.

Daniel had assessed the guards, though he doubted they really noticed. He was a good profiler, but they weren't giving much away. Their pistols were all biased towards stopping power, though the submachine guns they wielded seemed to have been selected for rate of fire rather than accuracy. One had a shotgun, but it was a pump-action model rather than the full-auto versions preferred by Vin, and now also carried by Hope. They were alert, but not exactly standing at attention. Daniel classified them as 'casual killers'. Talented, no doubt, but not formally trained.

"Putting discussions about the relative merit of Anarch hierarchies aside, I'm sure you have a good idea of what I'm here to discuss?"

Garcia, of course, did. "My childe is breaking agreements, though the specifics of their original deal haven't been discussed with me, so I'm not sure if she's within her rights to do so, or not."

"That..." clarified Michael. "...would be less of a problem, if she wasn't also interfering with a solution I provided. I have granted the Baron of The Wilds, Myranda, an alternate route through my own territory in order to give everyone a little thinking time. However, I have discovered that she has, what could reasonably be described as a strike force, stationed very near to my border, and at exactly the point where Myranda's people will be closest to Gloria's domain. Wars have started over much, much, less."

Jesus Ramirez - Ventrue
Garcia's 'Right-Hand' Man
Valeria then interrupted. "Perhaps she is simply observing them to ensure that they don't themselves do, exactly what you are implying that Gloria is considering?"

Michael paused for a moment before replying. "Her past actions haven't exactly inspired me to believe that she has the best intentions, or judgement for that matter. This would be last in a long line of errors, including, but not limited to, conspiring with Victor Girard against your own right-hand man Jesus Ramirez, and refusing to help with the expulsion of a Camarilla supported Methuselah of the fourth generation."

The Toreador Baron could clearly see that Garcia was becoming irritated with this line of reasoning, though Valeria was actually interested in the failures of Salvador's second youngest childe. Michael concluded that making his point might well end up alienating Garcia, so he'd need to be careful how he phrased his next statement.

"Gloria has been granted a certain amount of leeway due to her bloodline, and her association with yourself, but we all know that Anarch Barons should be selected for their abilities, not their ancestry. If she starts a war with Myranda, it is my opinion that she believes that both you and Allison will come to her aid. If the opening attack occurs in my domain, then that complicates matters even further. I'm inclined towards diplomatic solutions, but I will act if necessary. I have done so before..."

Michael let the comment hang there for a moment. He was sure that Salvador Garcia would have looked into his history, and would be aware of what the forces at his disposal were capable of when unleashed.

Gloria Martinez - Brujah
Baron of Whittier
Garcia's reply was unusually vague. He had a reputation for directness, even impulsiveness on occasion, and so the fact that he was erring on the side of caution made both Michael and Daniel suspicious. Garcia had an agenda, that was certain, but discovering what it was might prove difficult.

"My support is not guaranteed, though it would definitely be something I may consider if the circumstances warranted it. After all, as you have pointed out, an Anarch should be held responsible for their own actions, regardless of who they are descended from."

Michael then voiced another of his concerns.

"I am also aware that 'Nines' Rodriguez has voiced his opinion that Gloria is in the wrong. I am therefore concerned about the damage to the Anarch Free States should two of it's legendary figures find themselves on opposite sides in this potentially explosive situation. You have a legacy that might be affected negatively by such a conflict. You led the charge against Don Sebastian, your Anarch manifesto is required reading for any who consider them selves to embody the ideals of an Anarch, and therefore your association with Gloria in this petty feud would provide a great deal of ammunition for our enemies. The Camarilla's propaganda machine would have a field day..."

Michael let this sink in for a moment while he observed Garcia and Valeria's reactions. He could almost see the wheels turning as Salvador rethought whatever he had planned in light of what Michael had said. Valeria on the other hand seemed to have no interest in the conflict, rather he detected some scorn about her sires past achievements. It was clear that it was the 'now' that concerned her, not past glories.

Garcia seemed to have come to a decision.

"You have a way of relaying information in a manner that brings clarity to the situation. You are correct of course. A war over something as trivial as this serves no-one, and can only harm what I, sorry...we, have built here..."

Michael didn't believe a word of this, but didn't interrupt. In his opinion a war was exactly what Garcia wanted, but he still wasn't sure why.

Allison Maller - Brujah
Baron of Anaheim, Childe of Garcia
Garcia continued. "...and though it goes against my principles to interfere in the affairs of another Baron, I might be in a position to give Gloria some guidance. Perhaps, along with the assurances you've gained from Allison, she might see how fragile her position is.  I can't promise that she'll listen, but I'll see what I can do."

With both of Baron Martinez's allies now far less likely to offer their unconditional aid, Michael decided that he'd done all he could, and hopefully could get back to worrying about the more important matter of the Blood Plague. Or more accurately, Daniel and Hope could get on with it and he'd deal with any political fallout.


"He's definitely up to something, and I'm still not entirely sure what." confessed Michael.

"I already gave you my thoughts." replied Daniel. "If he gets rid of Gloria, then replaces her with Valeria, he ends up with two competent Barons as allies instead of one good one and one liability."

Michael could see the logic in that theory, but something still didn't sit right. "Vin? Anything to add?"

"The guards were combat veterans and used to Garcia's moods. They tensed when he did, relaxed when he calmed down. If we end up on opposite sides it'll get bloody. These aren't like the pussies who work for Gloria, these are the real deal."

Michael had to smile at that. Vin's low opinion of Gloria and her bullies was well known. Now he just needed Daniel and Hope to get a solid lead on the plague so he had something to tell the Anarch Council at their next meeting.

Interlude - The Port of Hueneme
Shantelle - Gangrel
Pack Leader of 'The Water Rats'
"So, why the fuck are we guarding this fucking shipment?" asked Kaya, for the third time. "...it sounds like mortal work to me..."

Shantelle, Pack Leader of the Water Rats, had no desire to explain the situation again, and to be honest hadn't been given a lot of information herself. Word had trickled down to her that smugglers, well pirates really, had gotten word of an expensive shipment of equipment entering the port, and were going to attempt to acquire it. 

That shipment happened to be theirs, so needed protecting. Unfortunately the cargo vessel also contained weaponry, and drugs, amongst other dubious and illegal items and so was arriving without the required paper work or custom inspections. 

The proximity of a naval base to the Port of Hueneme meant that Marius, and by extension The Oratory, hadn't been able to take full control over it, as that might draw suspicious eyes in their direction. They could influence the authorities, and had customs pretty much under the thumb, but the military were off limits. This meant that sometimes they had to do things the hard way.

"We've got the easy job, so shut up..." replied Shantelle. "...we just protect it from here. It's the others who are going to get messy..."


Vinicius Santos - Gangrel
Pack Leader of 'The Hunters'
Vinicius cut the engines of his boat and allowed it to drift towards the smugglers vessel. Subsonic ammunition was loaded into suppressed weapons, and The Hunters prepared for a boarding action.

This was a routine matter for them. His pack was as comfortable on the water as they were on the land and were veterans when it came to smuggling operations. Admittedly they were usually the ones doing the smuggling, but times were changing.

Three guards died to bullets that barely made a sound any louder than the ambient noises of the sea. The shots needed to be precise as the damage of such rounds was far less than he would have normally liked, but his pack had done their jobs.

Daryl, Filip, and Fiona leapt from their own boat, and landed near silently on the deck. Gilbert was covering them with a sniper rifle, having drew the short straw, and was still upset that he wouldn't get to feel the blood of his enemies on his claws.

Three minutes later the pirate vessel was filled with only the dead, and Vinicius ghouls had boarded and taken control. It was a nice boat, and in the absence of orders to the contrary, he had decided to keep it.


Sirena - Gangrel Aquarri
Pack Leader of 'The Corsairs'
Further down the coast, the rest of the pirates were waiting to unload the captured vessel, and spirit the expensive equipment on board to an awaiting buyer. Unknown to them, they, and their buyer, were going to be disappointed.

Sirena and her childe Marabbecca, glided through the water as if born to it, their approach beneath the water completely unobserved by their targets.

The rest of her pack 'The Corsairs' were approaching via the nearby cliffs, not being blessed with the aquatic gifts of the pair of Gangrel Mariners, they had to approach in a more mundane manner.

The Aquarri, burst from the water and dragged the two lookouts beneath the surf. A moment later the water became red with their victims lifeblood, and the pair assumed a more appropriate form for traversing the land, leaving their prey for the sea to claim.

By the time they reached the main group of mortals, Sirena's pack had already torn the unfortunates to pieces.

"Are we keeping the ship?" asked Pierre.

"Vinicius will likely keep the smugglers assault vessel, so we'll keep this one." she replied. "I'll let 'Father' know so he can have the appropriate documentation created."

"...and the clean-up?" he continued. Sirena shrugged. "Make the call to Husna in reclamations. We only create the bodies, we don't tidy-up as well..."

Pierre didn't envy whoever got that job. They'd made quite a mess....

Scene Twenty Nine - The Downtown Warrens
Hallowbrook - Downtown L.A.
Marius's Base of Operations

Hope and Daniel were met in Hallowbrook's lobby by an impatient looking security guard. Likely one of Yukio's given the military bearing, concealed weaponry and thousand yard stare. "Follow me..." Is all the greeting they got.

Daniel's attempts at making conversation were rebuffed.

"'Take them to the sewer entrance, make sure the guide is there, leave them to it'... were my orders. Making conversation wasn't in the brief..."

They were escorted down several flights of stairs, and along corridors where eventually they found themselves in front of a heavily armoured freight elevator. There were no buttons, only a pad for a handprint scanner, which the guard used.

"This is as far as I go. Your guide will be at the bottom..." as soon as the doors opened, the man left them alone.

They estimated that the elevator has gone down about four floors before it opened into a concrete walled loading area with a ramp that led into some unpleasantly murky looking water. A walkway off to one side led into the distance and was separated from the water by a metal rail that was beginning to corrode in some places. Leaning against it was a casually dressed man, just over six feet tall with a nasty scar down the left side of his face.

Luthor Hyde - Gangrel
'The Oathbreakers' Pack
"I'm Luthor. I've got the wonderful task of guiding you past two werewolf packs, and a half a dozen death-traps so you can have a chat with an insane, totally unpredictable, diablerist, cannibal and her kids? Any questions before we commit, fucking, suicide?"

As it happened, they didn't. This seemed to suit Luthor just fine.

Their guide seemed to know where he was going as he walked ahead of them without hesitation, ignoring some passages, then suddenly turning down others. He made virtually no sound as he moved, though he occasionally walked in a crouch low enough to indicate that he'd much rather be on all fours. Apparently conversation wasn't in his 'brief' either.

After about half an hour of this twisting, turning route through a mixture of areas that might have been built yesterday, and others that looked like they'd been carved from the earth itself, their guide eventually came to a stop.

"Okay. We're now going to skim the edge of the turf of a couple of dozen werewolves who call themselves Bone Gnawers. They're are seen by the other werewolf tribes as little more than mongrels who sift through the waste of mankind. The Bone Gnawers see themselves as underdogs, waiting to triumph against overconfident foes. I see them as nine-feet tall killing machines that we don't piss off under any circumstances...cool?"

'Jan, Death-From-Below' - Lupine
'Mother', The Bone Gnawers Tribe
"We could go round but it's a massive detour. Besides which their leader 'Jan' is the closest thing to neutral to vampires. By which I mean she doesn't attack us on sight, but would still be much happier if we didn't fucking exist..."

"A fair assessment..." said a female voice from just ahead. The woman who emerged from the shadows was wearing tattered combat bottoms, and a top that might once have been white. Her outfit was decorated in a random variety of randomly coloured cloth, leather jewellery and bits of chain. A heavy wrench hung from a loop on her belt. It had various trinkets hanging from it, so seemed to have some meaning to her.

Both Hope and Daniel recognised her as 'Jan, Death-From-Below', one of the werewolf leaders who had joined together to destroy the Black Spiral Dancers in Griffiths Park. What was of concern to them both was that neither had heard her approach. Had she wished them harm, she would have been upon them without any warning.

She proceeded to give them some basic instructions. "Straight through. No detours. Anyone you see on your way through will be one of mine, so stopping for a snack will be immediately fatal. Are the terms acceptable?"

Daniel nodded in response. There wasn't much else to say, and he wasn't going to risk causing offense, by saying the wrong thing. Hope said nothing, Jan had the confidence of someone who was completely comfortable in her environment, and Hope knew that she would be a far different prospect in combat to the 'metis' she herself had slew when the werewolf tribes of L.A. had joined together to exterminate the Black Spiral Dancers. Still, she couldn't help but be curious about the outcome of a contest between them.

They saw no-one as they moved through the Bone Gnawers territory, but they were definitely there. They felt uncomfortable for about thirty minutes of travel, then Luthor ran his finger beneath a strange symbol spray-painted onto one wall. "The good news is, were out of Bone Gnawer turf. The bad news is..." he then points to a word in, what you initially take for red paint, on one wall. "...is that once we pass that corner we're in swarmland."

Interlude - Traitors
Louis Fortier - Ventrue
Baron of West L.A.
Louis Fortier, Ventrue Baron of West L.A. and amongst the wealthiest and most powerful kindred in the city, held court over his three childer, who were incidentally also his mistresses. Though technically speaking Mariel St. John was merely adopted into his family, she was given the same consideration as his actual childer, much to the irritation of Catherine Dubois. Miss DyBois was formerly his favourite though now had fallen somewhat out of favour. 

Fortier had divided his domain more or less into three parts and given one to each of them to control, though in his name of course, and he carefully monitored their victories and setbacks. Mariel, Catherine and his other childe Elena were therefore now in a three-way competition for their Barons attention. 

Mariel and Catherine had completed their overview of their various interests and had been engaged in a game of one-upmanship during the entire briefing, much to Louis's amusement. Elena had said very little, but seemed unconcerned about being in third place, which might have alerted the other two if they hadn't been so interested in undermining each other. When she eventually spoke, it was clear that she had been scheming in a very different direction to the others. They had pursued material gain, while Elena had chosen another path.

"There is something that I believe you should be made aware of..." began Elena. "There is a rumour, that seems to be verifiable by reliable sources, that there is a representative of the Justicars within the Anarch Free States." Her 'sisters' immediately stopped their bickering and paid attention. Louis asked her to elaborate.

"Gloria Martinez, Baron of Whittier, and former El Hermandad leader, is in fact a tool of the ancient vampire Petrodon, the former Nosferatu Justicar of the Camarilla. As you know he had been fighting the Anarch movement in general, and Salvador Garcia in particular, since the nineteenth century. Knowing that the Camarilla will eventually wish to move against the Free States, Petrodon had kept Gloria as a fifth column for when the inevitable battle begins.

The Venture Baron, who kept track of such things, pointed out that Petrodon had been destroyed. Elena continued.

"He was, in an inevitable act of Camarilla nepotism, replaced by his own childe, a Nosferatu with the moniker of 'Cock Robin'. He was briefly supplanted by one Molly MacDonald, who died in Paris during the Ministry's failed petition to join the Camarilla, but he is now once more Justicar."

Cock Robin and Alonso Petrodon - Nosferatu Justicar and Former Justicar

Catherine inevitably tried to cast doubt upon this information in order to discredit her rival. "You're talking about a childe of Salvador Garcia. Do you really think that one such as this would have fooled him for so long?"

Elena's tone became patronising, as if she was lecturing some foolish neonate. "True, if Petrodon was an idiot. Fortunately he created the best kind of spy...one that doesn't actually know that they're a spy until it matters. As a member of Clan Ventrue I would have thought that you'd be aware of such techniques? Or have I overestimated your abilities?"

Mariel's question was more pertinent. There was no point in discrediting the information if it was true. Instead she needed to see if she could take advantage of it herself. "How did you learn of this plot?"

Elena Gutierrez - Ventrue
Childe of Baron Louis Fortier
Elena then played her trump card. "Oh. didn't I say?" the pause was deliberate, and all present knew it. she was savouring the moment. "Marius has stretched himself particularly thin recently. So thin, in fact, that much of the information that comes to him from the Inner Circle does so in the first instance, via a single trusted kindred." the way she said 'trusted' made it clear that they were anything but. 

"This kindred and I have come to an arrangement whereby his information comes to me first, and I decide what, if any of it, continues on it's way to 'The Fixers' ears. Though he will eventually hear of it through other sources, I will by then have used any that is useful, for my own purposes."

It was obvious that the rumour about Gloria was secondary to the revelation that she had access to some extremely high level information before Marius did.

This was a considerable advantage, and now she had made Louis aware of it, the other two couldn't sabotage the source without making it obvious that they had put personal agendas over what was a massive benefit to Louis and their Barony.

"You have done very well." complimented Baron Fortier. "Catherine. Mariel. You may leave. I and Elena will discuss this matter further...and privately..."

As childe and adopted childe watched their master leave with their rival, they exchanged a look. Unbeknownst to each other, they were formulating a similar plan. Namely, how to inform Marius of the leak while ensuring the blame fell upon the other.

Elena Gutierrez had won this battle, but the war was far from over. 

Scene Thirty - Swarmland
They could feel new eyes upon them almost as soon as the trio stepped across the division between the two underground domains. "No-one's attacked us yet so I guess that's good, right?" commented Luthor, though he did so very quietly.

'The Swarm' Underground Iconography, Red 'Paint'

As they travelled, the group picked up more and more shadows, many of which were no longer bothering to conceal themselves. As 'Swarm' went, these were fairly presentable though as usual, blood-bound mortals, ghouls and kindred mingled as, if not equals, then as those definitely at the bottom of the pecking order. The only thing that appeared to indicate that they were all from the same faction was that all had burn scars on them somewhere. In fact these almost seemed to indicate rank within the faction as those with the greatest number of scars seemed to be the leaders.

Georgiana Landry - Brujah
Advisor to Melinda, 'Sister' to Vin
Luthor lowered his voice and moved closer to both Daniel and Hope. "Melinda, controls this bit. The fact that one of the mistresses childer is a fucking pyromaniac vampire tells you all you need to know about the sanity levels down here. She has an advisor whose been adding some actual tactical acumen to her factions arsenal. She's not Gangrel, this advisor, but she's apparently bastard hard...ex-Sabbat they say..."

Daniel and Hope both knew that this advisor was Georgiana Landry, who shared a sire with Vincent 'Vin' Ghast, of their coterie. Georgiana had been tasked with infiltrating the Sabbat, as Vin had been with The Anarchs. Though Georgiana's assignment for Desdemona 'Demonmaw' Moore had apparently ended, Vin's was still very much a work in progress.

Luthor also seemed about to say something else then didn't, apparently thinking better of it. Daniel noticed his reaction and decided to probe further.

"Was there something else? You trailed off a bit at the end." Luthor ignored the comment for a few moments then replied.

"I used to think that there was no such thing as an 'ex' Sabbat. You joined them because you believed that the masquerade was a joke, and that we were destined to rule over mankind. No-one leaves the Sabbat...which is of course bullshit...fuck...there's a dozen former Sabbat in the city right now, though some of them were spies anyway. But I guess you knew that?"

Scarlet Carson O’Toole - City Gangrel
Pack Leader of 'The Oathbreakers'
Daniel did indeed know that Marius had placed several agents in the Sabbat, but claimed that all had now returned to the fold. Daniel didn't believe that for a second. He respected Marius, but he didn't trust him, not really. This also confirmed to Daniel that this 'Luthor' was Luthor Hyde, who had betrayed his Sabbat Pack, the Misery Lords, and facilitated their destruction.

Only Luthor, and the Packs leader Scarlet Carson O’Toole had survived, mainly due to the fact that had already received a better offer from Marius and had been intending to betray the Sabbat for a long time. They were also of Marius's bloodline, but were so far removed from him that his influence over them was virtually non-existent. Or so he claimed. Regardless, he had protected them from reprisals, and even found them a place within his own organisation, 'The Oratory'. Scarlet in fact now led an Oratory Pack that mainly consisted of former Sabbat, either actual or former double-agents.

The route they then traversed was as counter-intuitive as most of their journey had been up to this point. They went up and down levels, appeared to back-track unnecessarily, and then emerged in an area far different in appearance from the previous one, though almost without any transition between the new well constructed location and the improvised messiness of the previous one.

Daniel had noticed that the corridors and tunnels were seemingly getting wider, and looked more frequently used. He concluded that they were definitely heading somewhere that the swarm used with regularity.

Melinda - Gangrel
Faction Leader of 'The Swarm'
Ahead was a set of double doors, secured by heavy duty chains, in turn secured by half a dozen locks of differing sizes and ages. A kindred, naked from the waist up, and covered in burns and scars was reverently unlocking each in turn, under the watchful eye of this factions leader Melinda, who sized up the three as they moved closer.

Melinda was slightly built, and perhaps a little below average height, with short dark hair. She also lacked the burn scars that marked her followers, so apparently this was a case of 'do as I say, not as I do'.  Melinda and Luthor briefly made eye-contact, before he declined his head slightly, seemingly in deference.

There was definitely some relationship between the two, presumably this was why he was selected as their guide and why this particular route was selected.

Meanwhile, the guardian of the keys had completed the elaborate unlocking ritual and the doors swung open.

Melinda's followers waited for her to take the lead before any moved forward. It was clear that they were used to doing so, and Daniel didn't want to think too hard about what might have happened to any who had made the mistake of advancing ahead of her. Though she was clearly a lunatic, Daniel at least had to give her some credit for leading from the front.

Luthor gave out a low growl, and those behind Melinda moved out of his way and allowed him to stand just behind her. Hope joined him, and then a moment later, so did Daniel.

"I guess your an honouree Gangrel for the Night." quipped Hope, as the group moved forward in the wake of their leader, and the trio advanced along with them.

Interlude - Manifesto
Michael Tomassio - Toreador
'Power-mad, Pretty-boy'...apparently...
"Well he wasn't at all what I was expecting..." said Valeria to Garcia, as Michael Tomassio and his security drove away from the meeting.

"And what exactly..." queried Salvador Garcia. "...were you expecting?"

"In all honesty, and based on your description I hasten to add, a power-mad pretty-boy who talked a lot but said nothing of importance, while busily fooling the other Barons into believing he had their best interests at heart, while meanwhile trying to turn himself into the Baron of L.A."

The Anarch revolutionary raised an eyebrow at the doubt in Valeria's voice. Nothing in that meeting, with the so-called Arbiter, had changed his assessment, yet Valeria was talking as if he himself was somehow at fault. This was not why he had summoned her to the city. She was to take the place of Gloria, before some implanted objective turned the Baron of Whittier against his Anarch Free States, not second-guess his opinions.

Of course he had his suspicion's that Gloria was already fulfilling the wants of a long destroyed Justicar. Bizarre changes of mind that negatively effected the city seemed to occur with increasing regularity. Michael had given some examples during the meeting, and Garcia himself knew of several others that had escaped Michaels notice. She needed to go, and it had to happen in a way that didn't reflect badly upon himself. As a committed Anarch, he was happy to sacrifice her if necessary for the future of the Free States. In fact her destruction was now more or less inevitable. Only the timing had changed, in no small part due to Michaels interference.

Priss - Lasombra
'The Shades', Barony of the Angels
Of course this wasn't the only thing that needed to be done. The plan to use Gloria to create out a conflict in the north so as to relieve pressure on his forces from Priss in the Barony of the Angels would now need to be scrapped, and another reason concocted. This was necessary so Valeria could take control of Whittier as this would strengthen the domain, making that border far more secure than it currently was under the increasingly unpredictable and unreliable Gloria.

Irritatingly this also meant that he would need to delay the deal he'd made with Baron Fortier that would give him some of the territory seized by Louis, in return for not contesting the rest. With the north distracted, the east secured and the west's border agreed upon, the weakened South Coast Barony would have been his next logical step. Now all that needed to be reconsidered.

Even Allison was beginning to show reluctance to follow his dictates. It was beginning to look like his childer were losing sight of what it meant to be an Anarch, as were many others who were looking to Michael for leadership. Perhaps it was time to wipe the slate clean and start over with childer who truly embodied his ideals, not some untested version of them that existed only as theory in the minds of kindred who had never been truly tested in the crucible of open warfare with the Camarilla. The continuation of the Free States was now his only concern, and it was clear to him that it should continue exactly as he and Jeremy MacNeil had envisioned it

He noticed Valeria looking at him, presumably awaiting his response to her statement. "You were deep in thought..." she said, and to him it almost sounded like an accusation.

"I think we need a Plan B." He replied and something in his tone sent a chill down Valeria's spine. There was normally no dishonesty in Garcia, his stance or his nonverbals. Everything was on the surface, unhidden. Yet now Valeria could tell that he was keeping things to himself, manipulating rather than confronting, and using others instead of acting personally. Who knew what a kindred with Garcia's skills and allies might accomplish, if he believed that only he knew what was right, and what he might do to any who opposed this view.

"Whatever you think is necessary." she replied. Though she had begun to fear what that might be.

Scene Thirty One - Champions
They found themselves in a vast amphitheatre, a structure that had no right to exist this far below the city, yet did. It's original purpose was unknown, and they doubted that the swarm ever had the capabilities to construct it themselves.

Blake - Gangrel
Faction Leader of 'The Swarm'
They counted around a hundred and fifty 'swarm' within the circular structure. Stone pillars held the domed stone ceiling in place and there were three entrances in addition to the one from which they had entered. A rough division of individuals could be discerned. Those on the side from which they entered all had the distinct burns of Melinda's followers. 

A smaller group by the entrance to the left were better dressed and had far more weapons and armour, though the armour was mostly improvised. Their leader was a muscular man in a tattered suit, with military style body-armour over the top. He had been embraced later in life than Melinda and appeared to be in his late forties. This must have been Blake.

By far the largest faction dominated the right side of the room and fit the image of the first swarm members they'd met. Most wore torn, blood-stained clothing, though some had on work outfits, mainly from organisations that worked underground. They conspicuously parted as Quinn moved between them, avoiding making eye-contact with their leader. 

To the rear had been constructed a raised platform, on which sat a throne of sorts. The steps below it were scattered with otherings to the swarms mistress. Piles of jewellery sat next to children's toys, human skulls and other detritus distinct only because of it's silver or gold colouring. Upon the throne was Tilly Kelly, Mistress of the Swarm. She stood a little over five feet tall and was slightly built, Her clothing was tattered and blood-stained and from the look in her eyes, sanity had left her behind, many years ago.

Tilly Kelly - Gangrel
The Mistress of The Swarm
Their guide beckoned them forward and the crowd parted as they approached to seek an audience. "I'll be outside..." whispered Luthor. "...let her speak first, even if it takes a while...and if it looks like the shit is gunna hit, then I'm out of here. Melinda might give me a head start at least..." He then walked slowly backwards, his head bowed. He was evidently taking zero chances with causing offense.

And so Daniel and Hope were now in the presence of the Mistress of the Swarm. She watched them closely but other than that showed no sign that she even knew that they were waiting for her to address them.

About ten excruciatingly slow minutes passed, before Tilly seemed to remember that they were there. She stood up and skipped down the stairs, like a child might. "The scalpel and the hand grenade? is the ice-pick busy or just late?" she giggles to herself as if this was somehow a joke that only she got.

Hope and Daniel both smiled as if this was actually funny, but it was a joke that they had grown tired of. Though the original source of the comment was unknown, many of the other Barons enforcers referred to Vin, Daniel and Hope as The ice-pick, the scalpel and the hand-grenade, respectively. Though probably a fairly accurate assessment, the targets of it had stopped finding it amusing years ago.

"Vincent is otherwise engaged..." Replied Daniel. "...Though I'll be sure to let him know that you enquired about him. I'm sure he'll be honoured..." he was careful to keep any hint of sarcasm out of his voice. This was not the time to try to be too clever. He then made an attempt to more formally introduce themselves but was interrupted by Tilly.

"Oh I know who you are. One of you sneaks, the other kills." she then turned her attention fully upon Daniel. "You were wise to bring a champion, I might want you to prove yourself worthy of my time...my childer are a bit boring...Quinn always wins...he cheats, but I suppose that's my fault for indulging him so...every time I decide to eat him he does something entertaining and I forget to do it..."

"Ask your questions. And don't be tedious. I'm far too important to have my time wasted..." there are some murmurs of agreement from the swarm.

Daniel decided to start by mentioning Paris.

The Paris Catacombs
Former Haven of The Mistress of the Swarm
"Paris? I don't miss Paris, I died there you know..."  Daniel did know this but decided that the question was rhetorical and moved onto the theory that The Swarm Mistress's vitae might hold a cure to the plague. This line of enquiry got a slightly longer response, but not by much.

"I don't get sick. None of my brood get sick. I used to be able to make the sick better too, but not now...this new sickness is different. My flock won't get ill, that's my gift to them, it's why they all love me...everyone else will have to fend for themselves..." It was clear that getting a sample of her vitae, via hints about it's usefulness, was going to be trickier than he had considered. He decided upon the direct approach and to simply ask for it. In retrospect this might have been a mistake

"Are you worthy of carrying my essence with you, that's the question. Will your champion prove it to me...yes, that's a brilliant idea. Your champion fights my champion and if they aren't boring I'll give you a gift...I'll even let you pick..." All eyes turned to Hope.

Quinn approached his sire. "Do you want me to pick someone for this challenge?" It's obvious that he'd already prepared for the reply.  "No silly rabbit..." said Tilly with a sly grin. "...I want you to fight her..."

As they both approached one another, a circle began to form around them and the crowd began to throw weapons into it. Guns. blades, improvised clubs and everything in-between now littered the floor. Quinn ignored them all, shook his head and growled, the tentacle like protrusions on his head extended and his mouth becomes a gaping jaw of jagged fangs.

Quinn - Gangrel
Champion of the Mistress of the Swarm
Claws extended from his fingertips, and though not as long as Hope's own, something foul dripped from them, smoke rose from the floor as droplets of this liquid hit the ground and began to dissolve the stone, filling the air with an acidic odour. Seemingly noticing this for the first time, Quinn removed the excess toxins with a flick of his wrist and no more flowed onto his talons to replace it. "Unless you can do that too..." commented Quinn. "...poisoning you isn't exactly me playing fair now is it?"

Hope raised her hands and displayed her own raven-like talons to demonstrate that she had no such mutation, then leapt into the air, before driving her claws downwards towards her opponents chest. His reactions were lightning fast, but the unorthodox nature of the attack caught him a little by surprise, and Hope dealt him a glancing blow across his side. It was a mere scratch, but at least she had claimed first blood.

As she retreated backwards to give herself some distance, Quinn slid a weapon from the floor a little closer to him with one foot. Quinn then flicked the weapon, an axe of sorts, it's cutting edge made from a sharpened circular saw blade, into the air with his right foot, caught it with his left hand and hurled it at Hope's head. As she sidestepped the weapon slid across her cheek, her flesh becoming hard as marble in response, causing the blade to deflect into the crowd behind her. One of the swarm, a little slower than the rest, fell backwards as the blade split his sternum.

The Swarm - Mutated Ghouls of Quinn
Several of the crowd began to laugh, and those nearby fell upon them, uncaring of the death of one of their own. Daniel noted that many of Quinns faction were mutated in some way. Either they had been mutilated, or Quinn's vitae itself passed on some of his own mutations to them.

 After the failed attack, Quinn made no further moves. He seemed to be waiting to see what happens next. It was Hopes move, it seemed.

Her second attack was less successful, blocked by Quinn in somewhat more of an elaborate manner than necessary. It seemed that he too was putting on a show for the amusement of his sire. He then ducked under her guard, and sliced deeply into her flesh. Hope, so used to the invulnerability that her abilities had given here, was expecting the blow to fail. The fact that there was a limit to her ability to absorb damage was something she'd need to be aware of in future fights.

He took advantage of her momentary distraction, and switched to a grapple, then swept her feet out from underneath her. 

The technique showed a knowledge of martial arts that seemed unlikely for one of the swarm, and had clearly been practiced extensively. Though he temporarily had a dominant position, he inflicted only a trivial wound upon her, designed for maximum effect, with minimal actual harm.

As they grappled, Hope heard Quinn whisper something to her. "I don't want to destroy you, let's make this entertaining enough so we both survive..." he then rolled over and flipped Hope into the crowd with considerable force, causing several of the swarm to collapse under her weight. Daniel noticed that not all of them got back up again, some of the stronger amongst them had taken advantage of the distraction to cull the weakest of their number.

Hope covered the distance between her and Quinn and attacked once more. Though putting on a 'show' was unnatural to her, she tried her best to follow her opponents lead, and judging from Tilly's reaction, she was doing a more than adequate job. After what seemed like an eternity, but was probably no more than a few minutes, they heard a shrill voice, that silenced the crowd.

"Enough. That was suitably entertaining. If you eat her then she won't get to be entertaining again next time..." Hope was slightly offended at the implication that she was going to lose, but covered it up fairly well. Quinn stepped back and bowed his head as his mistress approached Hope, opened a vein in her wrist and offered her a drink.

Hope had tasted the blood of other kindred before. She had consumed the vitae of her sire, Marius, and many others and had never felt the sensation of subservience and loyalty that were the usual indicators of a blood bond. As far as she knew, she was completely immune to such things, though she kept this knowledge to herself as she took the offered gift.

'To the victor, the spoils'
Tilly then began to search through  her 'treasure trove', discarding some items, and places others back more carefully, until she eventually produced a bag of child's toys and other similar items. This included a baby bottle, into which she dribbled some more of her vitae, and then offered it to Daniel with a flourish. Despite earlier indicating that he could pick his own 'prize', he decided that implying that this wasn't good enough would likely get him and Hope eaten on the spot. Besides which, this was exactly what they needed.

"You can go now...my children have a feast planned and I doubt you want to be the guest of honour..." She then smiled. It was not reassuring. He imagined it was how a lamb felt when a wolf approached. In the brief time they'd been here Daniel had seen her personality and moods change half a dozen times, and it looked like another change was imminent, and he had his doubts about whether it would be for the better. 

He decided that now would be an excellent time for them to leave.


As Luthor guided them back the way they had came, with only a few minor variations of route for reasons he didn't explain, Daniel decided to ask him what he himself knew about the plague. Given that his pack were all former Sabbat, they might know something about The Brotherhood of the Ninth Circle which could prove useful. He told them that he'd ask the question, but was noncommittal about whether the pair would get any answers.

Luthor activated the lift below Hallowbrook with his palmprint and then disappeared back into the darkness.

"I wonder if you're now immune to the plague?" mused Daniel. Hope shrugged. She certainly hoped so, but wasn't willing to bet her unlife on it.

"And now?" she asked.

"Now..." replied Daniel. "...we find someone who can use this vitae to help us find a cure..."


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....

Michael's player did his usual good job of manipulating other characters to see things his way, though Daniel's player was unusually unsubtle in his enquiries. Hence the fight...

But now they have what they came for, or at least they hope they do, so now they just need to decide what the hell to do with it...

Song Lyrics
Also, The quote in the header is from the following song, should any-one be interested. In the interests of full disclosure, I'm not exactly the worlds biggest Metallica fan, but in my opinion this is one of the best and most underrated tracks they ever produced.


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, Marius Walker is Tony Curran, Myranda Maria is Shannyn Visceral, Leo Frost is Danny John-Jules, Harvey Caplan is Harvey Keitel, Isaac 'Ike Griffiths aka Spiculus the immortal gladiator is Jason Statham, Leanna is Leeanna Vamp, Florence 'Fox' Mercado is Camila Fox, Salvador Garcia is Antonio Banderas, Valeria is Elsa Pataky, Jesus Ramirez is Javier Bardem, Gloria Martinez is Ariadne Artiles, Armando 'Nines' Rodrigues is Luis Carazo, Allison Maller is Chloe Grace Moretz, Shantelle is Marsha Thomason, Vinicius Santos is Liev Schreiber, Sirena is Eline Powell, Luthor Hyde is Tommy Flanagan, Louis Fortier is Eduardo Verastegui, Catherine DuBois is Margot Robbie, Mariel St. John is Kate Moss, Elena Gutierrez is Emmanuelle Vaugier, Georgiana Landry is Mila Kunis, Scarlet Carson O'Toole is Natalya Rudakova, Melinda is Alice Pagani, Priss is Sofia Boutella, Blake is Dave Bautista, Tilly Kelly is Anna Paquin and Quinn is Oliver Parker.

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.