PREVIOUSLY ON V:TM
Jim: “I love how we’ve been dubbed ‘Douche-Force One’”
Jason: “I love how NO ONE is OBJECTING to that name!”
So in the grand tradition of billiant RPG campaigns everywhere, we developed a habit of splitting the party every chance we get. Not only that, but the two halves of the party are distrustful of each other and keep dancing with actively working against one another. The first half consists of me and my character, Tom, and Chris’s character, Paul. Since we’ve been thrown together by the fact that were both working for Marcus, I’ve dubbed us…wait for it…”Team Marcus.” The other group consists of Kara/Georgia and Jim/Clarence. Since both these characters belong to clans whom my character actively hates for being pompous assholes as a rule, I started calling their group “Team Douche-Force One.”
So far the name seems to be sticking.
This most recent gathering was somewhat short as we spent much of the evening preparing and devouring a feast of crabs. Although we go back and forth between characters over the course of a night, I have compiled the summary from this night into each of the respective groups, since they are rather short:
When we last left off, I had just stepped into the middle of some sort of Sabbat Special Olympics at the San Jose Arena. Boss Marcus is here, along with Chris/Paul, Andre Not-Literally-Andre-The-Giant-But-Apparently-That’s-Where-Jason-Got-The-Name Roussimoff, and Sebastian strung up from the rafters by Marcus’s shadow tendrils like some sort of hentai-pinata. None of the spectators saw me come in, so I sink down into a seat at the back and pretend like I’m supposed to be there.
Unfortunately, I am still surrounded by the guards who met me so enthusiastically at the door. They’ve now apparently become my new fan-club because many of them sit down around me. They start asking me how I killed the werewolf, wondering if it was some sort of magic. I try to act both confident and vague, saying that it takes some skill. They immediately ask if I can teach them. I say uh, maybe, but I, uh, need special tools. They say what, guns? They have lots of guns! Do I need some guns? IRL I get shifty eyed and immediately go, “Aaaactuallly, you know, dragonsbreath-rounds can be pretty useful against werewolves, can you get me some of those?” Once we get over the translation barrier, they enthusiastically agree and run off to get me some. I sprawl back in my chair, infinitely pleased with myself, since I have been trying to get my hands on more dragonsbreath rounds for real-time months and months now.
On the ice, some tense negotiating is happening between Marcus and Andre, vis-a-vie Paul. Everyone is ignoring Sebastian dangling overhead, sputtering muffled curses at them. At one point, Marcus and Andre step off the ice and out of the arena to do more negotiating in private.
Paul, though, is very concerned about the release of the rest of his people and can’t wait for Andre and Marcus to come back. He talks to another Sabbat leader-guy lurking around, eventually resorting to bribing the man to take him to check out his people. They leave the ice and head to a locker room where the rest of the hostages are being held in a cage made out of chain-link fence. The people of course recognize Paul and the room turns cacophonous with everyone calling out to him in fear and demanding to know what’s going on. Paul decides to try to reason with the Sabbat guy to let the people go, and when the guy refuses Paul tries to do some low-level mind-controls on him.
But there is a problem. See, Paul has been running REAL low on blood for most of the night now. He has mostly been able to hold himself together, but trying more abilities costs blood points. This last trick drops him too low and he frenzies. The good news is that rather than attacking the herd of tasty-smelling trapped humans in front of him, he is able to direct his attack on the Sabbat guy. The bad news is the Sabbat guy is holding an AK-47.
Back in the arena, I’m still sprawled out in my seat, waiting for something to happen, when shots ring out. It’s obviously automatic gunfire. Marcus and Andre still aren’t back so people start to panic and run. There’s a lot of yelling in various languages. I hesitate because my fan-club still hasn’t come back with the guns I asked for, but I know that whatever is happening has to be associated with Paul. With a frustrated yell that has become my catch phrase for the night, I get up to go find him.
People—mostly vampires and sabbat agents—are running everywhere, but I fight my way toward the hallway to the locker room I saw Paul and the guard disappear into. There’s another burst of gunfire and a bunch more armed guards start running toward the locker room as well. I try to distract them, yelling about Camarilla attacking from the outside. They seem to buy it and turn to leave, but before they can, some of the human hostages explode out from the locker-room door. The guards gun them down reflexively, then run off, leaving me standing over the bodies. After a brief moment of shock, I pull out my gun and enter the locker room.
There has obviously been a fight. The cage was torn open—explaining the escaped hostages—and the Sabbat guard has a gaping wound in the side of his neck. Paul’s been shot up a bunch of times but seems to have gotten himself back under control. I shoot at the guard, but after a few rounds of botches and struggles I finally say fuck it and pop Celerity to run in there and decapitate the sucker. Paul grabs some more blood from the body before it cools and gains even more control over himself. Paul is pretty chagrined that things got so fucked up, gets even more so when I mention that there’s two dead people outside, but we’re soon distracted by loud bangs and a crash-crunch sound echoing through the locker room, coming from the direction of the arena. We hesitantly go to investigate.
We reenter the rink to find the arena empty of living people (or vampires), but rather conspicuously occupied by one Sabbat guard who has been shoved THROUGH the heavy plexiglass lining the arena. He’s dead, skull crushed, but there’s no other marks on him. We also find a shotgun on the ice that has been BENT COMPLETELY IN HALF. Unnerved, we decide to look for Marcus and start by looking down the corridor we last saw him and Andre disappear into.
The end of the corridor is blocked by heavy metal crash doors. I open one of them….
….And reveal a swirling vortex of inky darkness just on the other side.
I turn to Paul. “Well, we found him.”
The darkness clears, revealing Marcus standing in the middle of the corridor, glaring at us furiously. A desiccated corpse drops out of midair and lands beside him with a heavy thwack. It’s no one we recognize but by the bullet wounds healing on Marcus’s face before our eyes it’s easy to deduce what happened. (Me: “And that’s why…you don’t shoot Marcus in the face.”)
He first yells at Paul, asking if he has any idea what has happened here, yadda yadda yadda. (Me: “Oooooo! Dad’s mad at yoooooou!”) Course then Marcus turns to me and says I’m obviously implicit in all this as well, he told me to lay low but it’s obvious I’ve never laid low a day in my life. We stand there, chagrined, and he tells us to go out and wait in the car. Literally.
Before we leave, though, I hesitate, cause I’m still concerned about the weirdness going on in the rink, worried that something bigger is lurking around the place.
Me: “Uhh, so, Boss, we were just coming to find you, but we passed this guy out there shoved through the plexigla—“
Marcus: “That was me.”
Me: “…Oh. And, uh, we found this shotgun—“
Marcus: “That was me too.”
Me: “………Ah. So. Yeah, we’ll just be out in the car then.”
We exit the arena without incident and get into an unmarked black mini-limo car with blackened windows. We sit there, quietly, like two kids waiting outside the principal’s office, until Marcus joins us sometime later and tells the driver to just start driving.
The rub of it is this. By coming to save Paul’s ass, he’s basically declared to the entire Sabbat community that Paul is an employee—“client,” is the word he uses, which is notable because history—of his. In some ways this is good, but in some ways this is *very bad* because Marcus is certainly not without enemies—powerful ones, too, ones we can’t even comprehend yet—and many of those enemies might try to get to Marcus by going through Paul. Or Paul’s people, as we saw tonight. Also, incidentally, one of those people who has it out for Paul is Sebastian himself, since he disappeared during the fracas. Marcus advises us that we should warn our “friend,” indicating Emperor Norton, as it’s highly likely Sebastian is going to gun for revenge on him as well.
As for me, even though I was not explicitly introduced as part of Team Marcus, it still should be pretty obvious to most people that I am, since I showed up out of nowhere and rescued Paul’s ass. (Funfact: apparently the guy I beheaded was ALSO a high-ranking lieutenant of Andre’s, so……whoops.) So I should also probably be keeping shit on the DL for awhile.
Right now, though, people seem to be ignoring me. The top concern is that Andre has it out for Paul, in some weird Sabbat honor sort of way. He’s declared something called…Monomanse?…on him, which apparently will involve a duel, set for next week back at the Arena. There are politics and strategies to be wrangled with that so Marcus and Paul discuss that for the rest of the car ride.
(IRL, we start throwing out suggestions:
Jim: “You have a week, do you think you can construct a robotic suit of armor?”
Kara: “I think he might need two weeks for that.”
Me: “Damn, we’re gonna need music and a montage, stat!”
I also suggest that Paul go scrape together some talent from the Hacker Dojo. Kara points out that he would probably end up with a robot suit made out of Roomba parts and shit from the 3D printer.)
I sit quietly in the car, becoming visibly more and more nervous, until Marcus sees me and sighs. “I told them that your motorcycle was mine so no one will touch it till you get it back.”
I relax immediately.
TEAM DOUCHE-FORCE ONE
So, as we discussed last time, after I got back into the city from the trip to Berkeley, I immediately ran off. Kara/Georgia and Jim/Clarence, though, go to the Pyramid to report to Bell. When they get there, though, they find that Bell isn’t in, but the Prince has recovered enough of his health that he is speaking and taking visitors. They go to report to him instead.
The Prince looks unhappy, but then he hasn’t looked happy for a very long time now. He asks about their visit to The Englishman (he has a rather vested interest in the man, stemming back to the time when he stormed Elysium with a flaming sword and attacked the shit out of people, including the Prince. The Prince lost an arm in that fight, giving me many opportunities to make Arrested Development references afterward till it grew back). They tell the Prince about the werewolf statue, the disappearance of this guy Beckett, that The Englishman was starting shit specifically to get Bell to come to town, that worse shit is supposedly coming to town, basically a laundry list of the important plot points so far. The Prince, in his trademark barely-competent fashion, takes in all this information and does absolutely nothing with it. He DOES, though, order Clarence and Georgia to go back to Berkeley for the Friday lecture with a slew of goons to try and capture him and bring him back to the city.
Georgia, though, in her now-trademark fashion, suggests that instead of bringing him in for questioning, “Why don’t you just call him?” and shows the Prince the Englishman’s card.
The Prince considers this, and then gets a better idea. He *will* call the Englishman, only not on the phone. A Summons. To Elysium, tomorrow night. Georgia and Clarence express concern about how the Englishman will react to a summons from the Prince. The Prince smiles and says, “Oh, *I’m* not the one who is going to be summoning him,” and looks pointedly at Clarence. (Out of game, I burst out laughing for a full minute or more)
So, for those keeping score at home, here are all the things that are supposed to go down at Elysium the following night:
- The Prince is probably going to get into bitchy politics trying to wrest control over his city and his court back from Bell
- The Prince is making Clarence summon the Englishman, one of the most dangerous vampires in town, so he can have it out with him
- Unknown to anyone but me and Paul, MARCUS—possibly THE most dangerous vampire in town– is also planning on showing up so HE can have it out with BELL
I immediately start making plans to bring a bag of popcorn and a lawnchair:
Before Clarence and Georgia leave, the Prince mentions that a Nosferatu named Abelard has been contacting the court, asking for a meeting with Georgia. This is very intriguing, since the entire clan has been on lockdown since before I came back from Marin and no one has seen or heard from *any* of them in months. Georgia agrees to meet with him.
Clarence goes home to his…for lack of a better word, citadel. He’s a little concerned about this plan to summon the Englishman, Dr. Everton, at least partially because….he kinda likes him (Jason: “Jesus, I didn’t think I had made him THAT arrogant!”) He decides to deal with the situation by Pulling a Georgia and gets on a secure line to call the guy. They exchange pleasantries, then Clarence flat out tells him that the Prince is going to make him summon Dr. Everton to Elysium tomorrow night. Dr. Everton seems amused, asks if he should refuse. Clarence says that, well, that’s his prerogative, but the Prince has it out for him. Dr. Everton chuckles, says he can’t imagine why. Dr. Everton says he can’t make a commitment either way at the moment but he will let Clarence know. Before he hangs up, he drops some more info about werewolves, mentioning something called the “Black Spiral.” Clarence thanks him, hangs up, then settles down for a long night of research.
Meanwhile Georgia heads to her meeting with this Abelard guy, at Coit Tower (totes the popular spot for shadowy midnight meetings in the vampire world, apparently). There’s no one at the tower when she gets there, so she hangs around by its base. While she waits, this is a good time to mention some info on the Nosferatu for anyone reading who is not familiar with the lore:
Of all the clans, the Nosferatu are probably the ones most estranged from normal human society, primarily because one of their clan traits is to always look like a hideous monster (much like the character of Nosferatu in the 1920s silent movie) rather than just a paler human. When regular humans see them, the instinctive response is to scream and panic. Nosferatu avoid this by avoiding regular society as much as possible, often setting up in protected enclaves (in San Francisco, their enclaves are underground in sewers and abandoned tunnels). The flip side to their insular culture is that they are very smart and, strangely for vampires, very good with technology. They also horde information, basically keeping their own private Wikipedias-worth of intel. Before Marin there was a big scene where Paul convinced Elsa (Kara’s first character, a Nosferatu herself) to get him access to the Nosferatu archives so he could collect information on some stuff he didn’t understand (which is pretty much all the stuff).
Anyway. A figure steps out of the bushes and approaches Georgia. He is very obviously a Nosferatu and identifies himself as Abelard. He says he wants to talk on “his turf.” Kara agrees and lets him lead her into the sewers to a cavernous junction somewhere under the city. He says that the Nosferatu have broken their radio silence because some shit has been going down in their world that possibly involves magic, thus they need to talk to a Tremere from the Chantry. Georgia was chosen because her animosity toward Max, the Chantry head, is becoming well-known, so they figured they could trust her slightly more. The issue is that apparently Nosferatu have been…disappearing, even despite the lockdown, and the suspicion is that they are being used for, quote, “raw materials.”
Apparently the magic that creates a gargoyle can use the body of a Nosferatu as a reagent, and since the Tremere are the only people who can create gargoyles (although supposedly they aren’t supposed to create any *new* gargoyles anymore, due to some treaty), the suspicion is falling on them. As further evidence, they caught a ghoul branded with Max’s sigil in the sewers a few days ago. That is very strange indeed, but Georgia points out that we all ran into at least one proto-gargoyle created by the *Sabbat* some weeks before so perhaps they are involved. This is news to Abelard, but he still thinks that Max might be involved somehow. Georgia agrees, cause seriously? Fuck that guy. They discuss more threads and politics, but one of the most interesting points to come up is that Abelard doesn’t believe that the “rogue” gargoyle that attacked Georgia is really rogue. He says that gargoyles don’t last long on their own, so for this one to supposedly have been rogue for 100 years is even more unlikely. Georgia gets taken to investigate the body of (supposedly) Max’s ghoul but doesn’t find anything really of interest. Before she leaves, though, Abelard warns her that although the Nosferatu are patient and willing to work with Georgia to figure this shit out, if any more disappearances happen they will, quote, “go nuclear.”
Back at Casa de Douchebox, Clarence has been working on his werewolf research but hasn’t been having a whole lot of luck. He eventually gives up and passes the buck along to some of his lackeys to do the work for him. A little while later, he receives a call from one of them on the house phone. They say that they were in the middle of the research and suddenly noticed an intrusion in the network, similar to what happened when the whole complex was under attack by Dias Ultimae a few weeks ago. Clarence tenses, orders them to lock it down and try and trace the attack. The lackey starts to respond but then the call cuts out mid-sentence and the lights go dead.
“SON of a BITCH!!!!” Clarence yells and leaps to his feet. He strides to the door of his room, but finds it locked. He curses again and pulls out his cellphone to call his chief of security.
Clarence: “What the HELL is going on?”
Security: “Um, nothing sir…”
Clarence: “My door just locked!”
Security: “…Does…your door HAVE a lock, sir?”
Clarence: “NO!! THIS CONCERNS ME!!!”
Security: “We’ll send someone up right away sir. Are you secure?”
Clarence: “Yes, at the moment but—“
Clarence stops mid-sentence as he feels something touch his shoulder in the darkness. Something *sharp.* He spins around and holds up the face of his cellphone. A figure is looming in front of him, huge and misshapen. The blue glow of the phone shines just strong enough to illuminate the face of the figure.
A face that is wolf-like.
Clarence freezes. The werewolf points a claw at the cellphone and gestures down. The security guy is still on the line, a small voice asking sir? What’s going on? Sir?? Clarence lifts the phone back to his ear. “Be right back,” he says, and hangs up.
A voice whispers in the darkness, coming from somewhere else in the room. “Cry out and we’ll burn the building down.”
Clarence clears his throat nervously. “I assume you’re here because you wish to speak, otherwise I’d be in pieces right now.”
There’s a pause. “You’re coming with us,” the voice snarls. “It will be easier if you don’t fight.”
“Will I be coming back?”
“That’s up to you, Suckhead.”
Clarence weighs his options and finds them somewhat lacking. “Very well,” he says. “Lead the way.”
Something grabs onto his shoulder and pulls. He jerks to the side, but it’s more than just physical movement. It feels as if something is trying to rip out his soul. There’s a moment of pain and then everything goes even blacker than it was before.
END OF NIGHT