PREVIOUSLY ON V:TM
(We decided to celebrate this third thursday in Nov with a pre-thanksgiving thanksgiving. Earlier in the day, I email everyone:)
Me: YOU GUYS!!!
Me: YOU GUYS!!!
Me: OMG YOU GUYS!!!!!
So after the fun-filled earlier part of the evening (in-game), this night was relatively calm. Jason has realized that he needs to start spreading things out a little bit so we can actually have time to manage some of our individual machinations, heal ag damage, and maybe I can actually get to fucking bed bath and beyond for some fucking curtains. (Note that we have been playing the game on average once a week since June and we have only covered 11 DAYS of in-game time (with a six-month jump in the middle but still).)
We open with me rolling up Columbus Ave looking for Marcus and/or Bell. Fortunately or unfortunately, the trail is cold. I give up and decide what to do next. I realize that whether or not it was intentional, Marcus has basically busted me out of imprisonment and the only person who would care (Bell) is now missing. So I peel out to get some of my own shit done. Even though no one knows where my new apartment in the TL is, downtown is a little hot right now so I want to avoid it, but I need to recharge my phone and find a quiet place to figure out my next move. I go to find the only other person left in the city I might possibly call a friend/ally: Emperor Norton.
He’s based out of Lands End, living in a private apartment under the Cliff House (funfact: all the times the Cliff House has burned down over the years are apparently due to instances of his enemies trying to kill him). He’s not home, but I break in anyway and find a phone charger. As soon as it boots up I see that theres a message from Jim/Clarence, scolding me for leaving the pyramid and advising me to come back. I delete it. Ass.
I try Aitor’s number a couple more times, still with no response. I linger for a bit, watching the ocean crash on the rocks below, deciding what to do. I realize that though I don’t really have any specific plans that I need to be working for at the moment, I should still find a way to prepare myself for some of the shit thats supposed to be coming around, and for that Im gonna need some new firepower (since all my previous weapons keep getting taken away from me). The best contact for that is Don Esteban, the Anarch Baron of the Sunset, whom Im on good terms with and I can reasonably assume will not try and capture me to turn in to Bell because, shockingly, Anarchs don’t much go for authority (which is why I get along so well with them). (Also Jason points out that the rumors of me running around working for Marcus, killing werewolves, AND being FRIENDS with werewolves will probably start to add up to keep people from fucking with me, at least right away). I roll out to meet Esteban at his bar in the Sunset, apologize for STILL not having found his missing Semtex yet, but ask for some recommendations on a good arms dealer. He points me to City Arms in Pacifica (which LOL IS RIGHT NEXT TO MY BELLYDANCE STUDIO LOLOLOLOL) and says he’ll set up a “late night” meeting with them for Monday.
Feeling a little calmer, I head home to my TL studio, though I hide my bike in an alley nearby. Day is coming and I still dont have any fucking curtains so I have to sleep in the bathroom.
Other players, though, had a much more interesting evening than I did.
Chris/Paul Stewart is not in a good place. He is back from the simultaneously literal-and-metaphorical dead and is back in control of his company, Tesseract Inc, but it is not the same. Apparently they lost a lot of assets while he was out; whether to human or supernatural interests is uncertain.
See, Paul has a secret. He is a very new vampire and reaaally hates it; not only being one himself, but what vampire society means for humanity. Not the old omg-were-cattle-for-the-slaughter thing. He hates that through the years, vampires have controlled–and often limited–human ingenuity and progress. He is PAAAASSIONATE about advancing humanity through new technology (remember, SteveJobs!Vampire) and haaaaaaaates anything that would stifle that. So when he was turned, he decided to use his power and technology…
…to destroy vampires.
All of them.
Tesseract is in the telecommunications business, a lot of optical networking and stuff, but most importantly, they have a networks of solar satellites that function as an optical relay network. In other words, a network of satellites with a whole bunch of big fucking mirrors that, with a little modification, can relay light–including SUNLIGHT–anywhere on the globe.
Basically its like Vampire Star Wars.
But apparently word of this project has started to get out. Marcus sure heard about it when he captured Paul and didnt like it one bit. Supposedly he bought a controlling interest in the company to try and stop it. And there’s probably been other dramas too.
So Paul is frustrated and sad. He retreats to his home in Portola Valley to mope around, drink tea, vomit up tea, and basically be as quietly dramatic as you would anticipate from a Toreador.
But then he receives a knock on his door.
He opens it to see… The Englishman. Aka, the crazy guy whats been running around killing Primogens and other leaders in the city for almost a year now, whom we were first set to find way back when when we started this game. Last time we saw him he was waving a flaming sword that had been dipped in sterno. This time, he is calmly holding a silver-tipped cane and asking if that was tea he smells. Paul invites him in, warily.
They have a long, interesting chat. The Englishman gives his name, Dr. Corwin Something, of Oxford/Cambridge (we still havent settled on which one). He is effusing british high politeness and charm while calmly mentioning his “plans” and all. But not to worry, he has no real interest in offing any of us low totem pole vampires at this time, but he has heard of Paul’s little sun-beam project and is interested in more information on it. He also wants Paul to let society back in the city know that he, Corwin, is back around. Paul agrees, but begrudgingly, because hes not happy with the idea of his grand plan to save humanity being turned into a simple weapons commodity.
Paul spends the rest of the early morning working on some personal projects of great personal meaning to him (Jim: “I think our punishment for killing Carlos is for Paul to subject us to THE MOST BORING DAY EVER!”), including some sort of plans to get a bunker in the Marin Headlands so he can do experiments on the nature of vampires…on himself. He starts the experiments right away by testing to see if he can will himself to withstand sunlight.
Spoiler alert: he cant. He’s fine, just…very badly burned.
So the next morning/evening, I wake up to my phone ringing. I dont recognize the number, but I answer it anyway.
Theo Bell: “Mr. Lytton.”
Me: “Oh, uh, hello sir…”
Bell: “Mr. Lytton you were told to remain in the Pyramid.”
Me: “Uh, well technically you never explicitly told me to *stay,* I guess it was just assumed I would cause of being locked up and–”
Bell: “Be that as it may, Mr. Lytton, I made it known that I required your presence at Pyramid for the execution of my duties and you willfully disregarded that fact.”
Me: “Yes, well, there was a giant hole in the side of the building at the time so I figured it prudent not to hang around. …How, uh….how was your evening, sir?”
Bell: “…Interesting. It was…most illuminating.”
Bell: “Mr. Lytton, I will be calling Elysium at the Pyramid within the hour. I expect you to be there.”
Me: “Urg, seriously, dude, I’ve been trying to get out to pick up new curtains for two days–”
Bell: “You WILL be at Elysium tonight, Mr. Lytton. You can either come willingly or I will Summon you. I promise you my attitude toward you will be more agreeable if you choose the former.”
(Sidebar: Yeah, so apparently the talent of “summoning” someone, which I previously called “Ventrue High Douchery” is available to the Brujah as well. So….whoops).
Bell: “…….There will be snacks provided.”
Me: “Oh! Well in that case! See you there! ”
So I roll out to Elysium, still being held at the Pyramid because of the general state of emergency (which im fine with cause the Pyramid is much cooler than the damn Hyatt on the waterfront, btw). Even though Bell is forcing me to come in front of him again, Im feeling better about it, cause this time I’m strolling in under my own–apparent–initiative, and not dragged in under guard like I would have been if I was still locked up in the basement.
We all gather in the room. The Prince is there, awake, but still in terrible shape and apparently cant talk, what with his throat being torn out and all (Jim is irritated by this cause it throws a wrench in his plans to blood-bond the Prince, which requires feeding him blood over the course of three consecutive nights) Bell makes his first formal speech to the entirety of vampire higher society, about how hes there to fix problems and he doesnt care what minor political dramas and whatnot are going on so long as they dont get in his way, and if everyone cooperates with him then they’ll get along just fine, and its suitably ominous and awesome. He doesn’t specifically mention my name but there’s a lot of pointed glares in my direction as he mentions Sabbat methusulas and werewolves.
The most tense moment of the court, though, came when the following happened:
Bell: “Now. I assume that I have made myself clear, but are there any questions?”
(The gathered assembly is silent, but then an arm shoots up from the crowd.)
Norton: “IIIIIII HAVE A QUESTION!!”
(everyone around Norton takes a noticeable step away, eyes wide)
Bell: “….Uh, yes?”
Norton: “We have not been formally introduced!!!! I am Joshua Abraham Norton, Eeeeemperoor of these United States, and Protector of Mexico!!!!! And I have a question of the highest importance, if you are to be working here!!”
Bell: (eyes narrow) “And what is that?”
(There is a long dramatic pause. Everyone in the room is watching Norton nervously.)
Norton: “….BY WHAT MEANS do you refer to OUR FINE CITY?”
(At this moment, if we had lungs, everyone in the room would have gasped quietly. As it is, the tension increases noticeably)
Bell: “What….do I call the city? Um…San Francisco?”
(there is another silent pause as Norton regards Bell.)
Norton: “….THAT IS ACCEPTABLE!!” (steps back to rejoin the crowd)
Everyone lets out a metaphorical sign of relief, but for me it doesnt last long because Bell points to me, Clarence, Paul, and Kara/Georgia, calling us back to meet with him privately.
I should probably state what Kara/Georgia has been up to at this point. Her big focus at the moment is finding out more information on this rogue gargoyle, as well as not getting “accidentally” killed somehow by her boss Max. So apparently all gargoyles are created by and under the control of Tremere groups in their bases called Chantry houses across the planet, so a rogue gargoyle is…very interesting. She finds information on a gargoyle that went missing from the New York Chantry about 100 years ago that was only referred to as “Number Five” and the physical description seems to match the one that dragged her across the city.
I can’t really say much else about her plot because at this point she went “offscreen” with Jason in the backroom for secret timeline for quite awhile. Anyway, over the course of the night she obviously heals herself up a bit and makes it to Elysium.
I should also maybe state why I was so excited for there to be snacks at Elysium, cause it’s not what you think. See, Tom is HIV positive. His story is a rather tragic one in that he was tricked into becomming a vampire by some guy on the promise that it would cure him of his then-advancing AIDS. And while it did stop him from dying of AIDS, what he didnt realize was that because of some sort of magic mystery whatever, the virus is still alive inside him and when he feeds on a living person, he has a chance of spreading it to them. He didn’t realize this for quite a while, and was torn by anger and guilt when he DID realize it, that he had been further spreading HIV through his community and was now doomed to watch as more friends and lovers died around him, knowing all the while that many of them were probably because of his ignorance. Since then, he has worked out a system to minimize the spread as much as possible by tracking down known HIV-positive people in and around the gay/BDSM clubs he frequents. These people constitute his “herd,” which I can draw on once a day or so for a big blood boost. Unfortunately, though, emergencies do happen where he finds himself out in the field and low on blood. In these cases, he tries to find non-living sources of blood (such as stealing a bunch of blood “shots” from the Prince’s minibar a few nights ago) whenever possible, only resorting to feeding on people of unknown status as a last resort.
For most vampires, though, feeding on pre-packaged blood is a risky business because you never know if its been spiked with the blood of another vampire, which–as i mentioned before–is the process by which you become “blood bonded” to another vampire. A full blood bond takes 3 nights, but just one or two shots of another vampire’s blood can change how you perceive them, becoming more agreeable with them or whatever. It’s widely believed that the Prince spikes the blood he serves at Elysium for this reason.
But the GOOD news is that once you are full-on blood bonded to one vampire, you CANNOT be blood bonded to another. So since Tom is already bonded to Marcus, he basically take as much pre-packaged blood with impunity. Turning disadvantages into advantages, for the win!
So, as the four of us follow Bell to our private meeting, waiters come out with martini glasses of blood for the rest of the court. A couple people grab one as we pass.
I grab three.
Whatever, whatever, I do what I want!
So we meet with Bell. He repeats the main motifs of his speech for desire for cooperation, blah blah blah. Since he is meeting Paul directly for the first time, he gets Paul’s story about how he may or may not have escaped from Marcus. Paul gives a story about how he was *actually* blood bonded to ALEJANDRO, cause Marcus was working with him secretly or something, he wasnt sure, so when Alejandro died the bond was released and he came back. I of course dont believe it, but I keep my mouth shut. Marcus-bros before ho’s. Everyone else seems skeptical but dont pursue the matter further.
Bell then turns to a new topic. He tosses a folded piece of paper at me. I open it. It’s a flyer, torn off of some bulletin board somewhere, advertising a visiting professor who is going to be giving a talk at Berkeley later in the week. His name is Dr. Corwin Somethingorother, of Oxford/Cambridge, presenting a lecture on “The Dichotomies of Power: Master/Slave Dynamics of the Mercantile and Artisan Classes in 5th Century Athens, BCE” (which, basically, is heeeeeeeella Brujah-bait, *especially* for Bell). Bell knows now that this guy is The Englishman, and says that this whole thing is obviously a ploy of some sort, perhaps to try and tempt Bell over there as a distraction for something else. He’s not sure, but he knows enough to not fall into it by going himself. He wants us to go instead.
He looks at me and talks a lot about how he…hadn’t fully realized the strength of some of the…forces we had been operating against (or under) and how such sins might in fact be forgiven if one was able to prove oneself, through things such as figuring out what The Englishman is up to, or perhaps turning Marcus in if given the chance. I glower at him but agree to join the task force to go check this shit out, on Wednesday night.
There’s just one problem though. After all the first drama with The Englishman last fall, with the attack on Elysium and whatnot, other vampire societies in the area panicked. Oakland has basically shut down, under the orders of their Prince (who is actually a woman), and no vampire or their agents are allowed in or out. Problem is this INCLUDES anyone trying to pass over the Bay Bridge (and likely the San Mateo bridge as well) Trying to go around the bay from the south is a bad idea, cause down-peninsula and San Jose is getting into Sabbat territory and word is they’re in an uproar after Alejandro (who was apparently a Bishop) was killed. Going north through Marin is also a very bad idea cause it would take us through 50 miles of werewolf country.
So there we ended the evening, trying to figure out a way to get to Berkeley, within the next three days, without being noticed.
END OF NIGHT.
This is a placeholder post recording some of the early material I posted publicly until I can go through and narrate it properly.