10/1/15

Chris: “…Jason, I would like to use Movement of the Mind. On myself.”
Jason: “For what purpose?”
Chris: “Mostly to prevent myself from slamming into things as this goes to hell.”

***

This year has been a bit of a roller-coaster for all of us, but this week came with a completely unexpected blow. One of Kara’s oldest and best friends died suddenly, leaving her grieving and understandably not in the mood for the usual murderous vampire politics. She sat this night out and, over the next few sessions, her involvement will be sporadic.

But don’t give up, Georgia fans, because there are some amazing things coming for her soon anyway:

(Jason: “Given the times Kara has had recently, I decided that maybe it’s time to rearrange things in her storyline and engage in crazy, mad-cap science adventures. In a new exotic location.”
Chris: “Oh my. Is she going to get another pet?”
Jason: “She might. She seems to collect them.”
Chris: “She does.”
Me: “Omg, just like in WoW.”
Jim: “That’s what the Tremere are good at.”
Me: “Really? Collecting pets?”
Jason: “Yes, among other things. What do you think Bob is? Bob is Georgia’s pet, but the difference is, unlike other Tremere, Georgia doesn’t kill pets. But he’s definitely a pet.”
Me: *mumbles* “A stupid pet….”
Jason: “He’s not stupid, he’s just….” *trails off, stumped*
Me: “If I had to choose between Bob and MewMew, I’d chose MewMew every time. And MewMew pees on the floor.”
Jason: “You don’t know, maybe Bob does too.”)

#

HUMBOLDT COUNTY

After bolting in terror, Anstis eventually regains control over himself once he is out of the immediate presence of the Abomination. He circles the forest and lands in the next valley over, immediately shifting back up into a human and pulling out his phone to call Bell.

“Yes?” Bell answers wearily.

“There may be an additional problem,” Anstis growls.

(Jason: “You hear nothing, not even with Auspex, yet somehow you get an image in your head of Bell slumping down in his seat.”)

“…What?” Bell groans.

“Are you aware of what an Abomination is?” Anstis says seriously, glancing around the darkened forest.

“An abomination? You mean other than half the shit running around the city?”

(Me: *laughing* “Bell doesn’t know, and Jim gets to be the one to tell him!”
Jason: “He’s one of today’s lucky ten thousand!”)

“Worse than that,” Anstis says. “A werewolf become kindred.”

There’s a long pause. “…You wanna say that again?”

“A werewolf that’s been embraced. Before today I thought they were myth.”

“…That’s possible!?”

“And not something to be trifled with. Ruland has one.”

Wind moans through the trees in the silence that follows. “You telling me,” Bell says slowly, “I sent you up to get this cult to do what we need done, and they have a werewolf been embraced?”

“This is more than any simple cult–”

“I’M GATHERING THAT!!!”

The wind carries the rumble of trucks in the distance. “They’re departing now toward Sacramento.”

“They have a vampire werewolf under their control and you told them to go attack anyway!?

Anstis shrugs. “We just learned of it.”

“Where’s Rabenholz?!” Bell barks. “Put him on the phone!”

“As soon as I get back to him.” Anstis drops back into bird form, and launches into the air.

#

Rabenholz stands frozen in shock, staring at the Abomination, as men start moving purposefully around them. Ruland is still in front of the creature, whispering to it and stroking its face, like a skittish horse.

Rabenholz finally wills up enough courage to approach Ruland. Behind him, Scout obfuscates and ducks to a place out of everyone’s way.

Ruland turns his milky gaze to the sound of Rabenholz’s footfalls, smiling a beatific smile.

“I daresay, Sacramento won’t see anything like that coming,” Rabenholz says.

“No one will.” Ruland rests his hand on the Abominations muzzle. The creature rolls its eyes toward Rabenholz and growls. “Will you come with us to do the Lord’s work, and be reborn again in the light?” Ruland continues dreamily.

Rabenholz stares up at the monster a long moment. “…Suuuure,” he says finally.

A diesel engine rumbles behind him as an old eighteen-wheeler semi-truck pulls out of one of the barns and stops nearby with a hiss of released air. A few men run up and lower the liftgate to the trailer. Ruland gestures. Without a word, the Abomination lumbers forward and climbs into the back. The trailer echoes hollowly as it moves to the far end and crouches in the darkness.

Rabenholz watches a moment, then climbs up into the trailer after it.

(Jason: “Wait, really!?
Chris: “Yes.”)

Just then, Anstis lands back in the compound and turns back into a human, the men around him so busy with their vehicles that no one seems to notice. His phone is still in his hand and, miraculously, the call to Bell is still connected. “Rabenholz is getting into a truck with the werewolf,” Anstis reports.

“…Why???” Bell asks, disbelief ascending into panic.

Anstis shrugs. “I don’t know, I’m not near him.”

“Rectify that!” Bell shouts. “Do not, I repeat, do not let this thing go to Sacramento! It will kill everything there!”

Anstis nods. “I’ll do what I can.”

“I’m talking to the Roman.” With that, Bell hangs up.

Anstis looks up to see Rabenholz staring at him from the back of the truck. Rabenholz points to his own phone, then to Anstis. Anstis looks down at his screen again. A text has just come through:

DRIVE THE TRUCK. –R

Rabenholz gestures toward the cab. After a moment, Anstis nods in understanding and strides over to climb up. An overweight man is already in the driver’s seat as Anstis settles in. “How long will it take to reach Sacramento?” Anstis asks.

The man grins. “Should be there in a matter of hours, my brother, and then we shall wash the vermin into the sea.”

Anstis returns the smile, thin-lipped. “Aye.”

#

Hidden against one of the sheds nearby, Scout sends a text with shaking hands: “The religious fanatics have some sort of werewolf monster and are headed to Sacramento.”

After a minute, there’s a one-word reply: “INVESTIGATE.”

Scout hesitates a moment, then slips the phone away. Still obfuscated, she ducks across the clearing and climbs onto the semi-truck, crouching on the catwalk behind the cab.

#

Rabenholz approaches the Abomination, lurking among some crates within the trailer. “Tell me, do you speak?”

The werewolf stares at Rabenholz with clouded eyes. Its chest heaves, but the breath that comes out is cold.

“Are you excited to be doing the lord’s work?” Rabenholz asks.

The monster stares back.

Rabenholz glances toward the entrance to the trailer. Two of Ruland’s men watch him, waiting, but beyond them vehicles of the convoy are already starting up. “The tension in the rest of the compound is palpable,” Rabenholz says, turning back to the Abomination. “You inspire the others.” He takes a step forward, quietly letting the power of Presence leak into his voice. “You’ll play a very important role tonight. It’s very noble to bear such a heavy burden.”

The monster stares at him, reactionless.

(Chris: *gleefully* “Aura perception!!”)

Rabenholz blinks, then frowns. The color of the aura is strange, almost painful to look at, but by the swirls and patterns, he can tell the Abomination is confused. Underneath that, though, frustration is rising, followed closely by anger….

(Jason: “They’re about to close the door. You sure you want to be in the back of this van with this werewolf for the next four hours?”
Chris: “Well, if it comes to it, I can get out.”
Jason: “Yeah, but so can it.”
Chris: “Well, better it gets out in the middle of nowhere than Sacramento.”
Jason: “…Alright….”)

Rabenholz gestures his cane toward the men at the entrance. They glance at each other, then lower the door, plunging Rabenholz and the Abomination into darkness. A whir echoes as the liftgate raises and thunks into place. Immediately after, the truck rumbles and starts moving.

#

With help, Ruland climbs onto a pickup truck driven by one of the other men. Horns and cheers echo as he lifts his arms dramatically from the window–

(Me: “Oh, shit!! He’s fucking Immortan Joe, isn’t he!?”)

–And gestures forward. Tires shred against gravel and his pickup leaps ahead, bouncing out the open gates of the compound.

Next to Anstis, the big-rig driver tugs the horn and kicks the truck into gear, shouting gleefully. They pull out the gates, more cars and a couple dirt-bikes around them in a convoy–

(Jason: “–Like it’s a war-rig or something.”
Me: “Right!?”)

Anstis watches the driver carefully as they climb the ridge and descend toward the main road. From the man’s movements, he assumes one of the pedals on the floor makes the truck move faster, while the other slows it. The third remains a mystery. And the cord in the ceiling triggers the horn.

“Shouldn’t we maintain the element of surprise?” Anstis growls as the driver pulls his ample weight against the cord again.

The man grins and digs a hat out from under the seat. He tosses it at Anstis. A white-power cross is embroidered on the front. “Let the fuckers hear,” the man laughs. “Let them hear judgement is coming!”

The convoy reaches the end of the drive and peels left onto the road, heading inland toward the Central Valley.

#

Scout hangs on the back of the semi’s cab, riding the sway as it bucks and rolls over the winding mountain road. Diesel fumes and the scent of the forest blast her on the cold wind. A dirt bike roars past but doesn’t see her obfuscated form. She tightens her grip and presses against the catwalk, waiting.

“Do you think yourself clever, my daughter?” A voice suddenly whispers over the wind, echoing in her ear. Scout looks around, eyes wide, then up. Flagg is casually sitting high above her on the edge of the trailer, his dark coat whipping around him. “What did you come to this place for? Whyever did you come so far?” he asks gently, the sound resonating directly in her mind.

Scout stares back, crouching lower onto the truck.

Flagg grins. “No answer? Surely this is time for reflection. Surely this is time to ask, is this where the Lord has wanted me? Or have I come here at the behest of someone else?” He stands, heedless of the wind whipping at him. “Why do you come here? Whose authority do you claim? Are you ready for what must come? Have you ever been?”

Scout glares silently.

Flagg smiles again…then jumps down onto the catwalk next to her, balancing evenly on the bucking metal. “I have come to show you the light,” he drawls as he paces forward. “You have turned away from it. Again, and again, and agai–”

Scout braces herself and kicks him square in the chest. Flagg flies back off the catwalk, disappearing under the wheels.

#

Headlights shine sporadically through seams in the trailer door. Rabenholz stares at the Abomination in their dim light. Despite the shuddering motion, the monster remains crouched in the back, eyes cast down, unresponsive.

Rabenholz taps his cane smartly against the floor. “I would be most interested in helping you this evening. I realize there might be a communication barrier, but perhaps we can reach an understanding.”

“He cannot hear you, my brother,” another voice says comes from the darkness. “He cannot know you. And why should he be able to?” A road flare pops suddenly, illuminating the grinning face of Jeremiah Flagg in hissing red light. “How should he know you, when none can know you?”

Rabenholz eyes the preacher. “Do I answer, or should I present my riddle to you first?”

Flagg grins wider. “You have no riddles here.”

“And here I was just going to ask you what’s in my pocket.”

Flagg steps forward in the rolling darkness. “Deceit. Blood. The Devil. Pain.”

Rabenholz eyes the flare but doesn’t flinch. “Why would you say I have deceit in my pocket? I think my tailor would be offended.”

“It permeates you like a miasma. The Devil’s own work.” Flagg holds the flare closer. “The Devil has a face, though, doesn’t he?”

“Don’t tell me I’m looking at him,” Rabenholz responds tiredly.

Flagg laughs. “You are looking at a servant of the Lord. The only such servant you shall ever know.” Flagg spreads his arms mockingly. “Lord of a ruined house. Prince of the ashes.”

“My, you are a perplexing one,” Rabenholz says evenly.

“I am the bringer of Truth. I am the servant of Righteousness. I am the fire that rises. I am the purge.” Flagg extends his other hand forward. “Will you come to me, my brother, and be saved?”

Rabenholz glances at the werewolf. It hasn’t reacted to Flagg’s presence, or his flare. “What would Ruland say I should do? Has he met you, I wonder?”

“Ruland has met me. But more importantly he has met the Lord.” Flagg takes another step forward. “The Lord is his shepherd. But you are no sheep. You are a wolf. And the shepherd must fight off the wolves.”

In one movement, Rabenholz draws his sword from his cane and swings in a practiced motion, bisecting Flagg across the middle. Both halves crumple to the floor and the heavy coat smothers the flare, its last light shining on Flagg’s still-smiling face.

#

Anstis stares out the window of the cab as the convoy burns through the night. The trees are getting sparser as they descend, and the lights of the Central Valley sparkle distantly through gaps in the hills.

“Why are you here, brother?” the driver asks. “Why have you come to this place?”

“I’ve come to see the Lord’s work,” Anstis parrots. He turns from the window, then tenses. The driver has somehow morphed into the dark shape of Flagg.

(Me: “Oh shit, he’s an Agent! Or he’s Adam…OH MY GOD!! Adam’s an Agent!! That explains everything!!!”)

Flagg grins sidelong at him as he drives. “But why have you come, brother?” he repeats.

Anstis glares back, hand tensing on the door handle.

Instantly, the cab is full of octopus.

Both cab doors explode off as tentacles rush to fill the space, throwing Flagg out into the darkness. Octopus-Antsis grabs onto the wheel with two arms while slamming the gas with another. The rig leaps forward, slamming into the car immediately in front of it, which spins off the road. Ahead, the road descends in a long straightaway before curving toward the south. A tentacle bumps the stereo and Sammy Hagar erupts over the speakers as the truck rushes down the hill.

(Jim: “When we hit the bottom of the hill, I’m going to swerve straight toward the trees, then turn into a parrot and fly out before it hits.”
Everyone: “…”
Jim: “Bell said to keep this truck from reaching Sacramento. I’m following orders.”
Jason: “You…do know Rabenholz is in the truck, right?”
Chris: “Oh, yes he does. That’s why he’s doing this.”
Jim: “I assume Rabenholz has a plan because he told me to drive it. Which could only mean, ‘prevent it from getting there.’”
Chris: “…Close enough.”
Jason: “What’s your intelligence?”
Jim: “Two dots. So this seems like a good plan.”)

#

The trailer shudders and bounces wildly as the truck accelerates. The Abomination finally responds, looking around in obvious confusion.

Rabenholz steadies himself on the pitching floor. “It is time to go,” he announces smoothly, and goes to open the trailer door.

It’s locked.

Suddenly the floor bucks, there’s a scream of metal, and the whole trailer tilts into a roll.

(Chris: “…Jason, I would like to use Movement of the Mind. On myself.”
Jason: “For what purpose?”
Chris: “Mostly to prevent myself from slamming into things as this goes to hell.”)

#

The rig leaps over the edge of the road and begins to twist into a jackknife. Scout throws herself off, rolling as she hits the ground, and comes up in a kneeling position, staring after the truck.

(Jim: “So the truck is barreling down the hill, with a giant octopus shoved inside the cab, arms flapping out the open doors.”
Jason: “…Colleen, would you do me a favor?”
Me: “What?”
Jason: “Ask me if you can see the driver of the truck.”
Me: “…”
Jason: *grins*
Me: “……Jason.”
Jason: “Yes?”
Me: “………Can I see the driver of the truck?”
Jason: “No, Colleen. The octopus is in the way.”)

#

Rabenholz is able to hold himself in midair but still bangs off the walls as the trailer drags behind the cab and bounces off trees. The Abomination isn’t so lucky, howling as it’s tossed about against the metal.

The cab pivots in a sickening roll, careening toward a massive tree. Octopus-Anstis implodes into parrot and bursts out the open door moments before impact.

(Note: Very special reenactment:)

giphy

Twisting violently, the trailer rips open along the seams, hurdling Rabenholz and the werewolf into the night. Diesel fuel sprays across the forest floor and bursts into thick, greasy flames.

(Chris: “Well, at least I’m out of the tree.”)

Anstis circles over the road, surveying the results of his handiwork. The truck has carved a furrow through the trees almost a hundred yards long. The rest of the convoy screeches to a halt at the turn in the road, with men shouting and jumping out. Rabenholz is climbing to his feet about halfway up the furrow. Scout isn’t visible, but Anstis wasn’t aware she was on the truck to begin with.

An unearthly howl echoes from deeper into the woods. Everyone below stops, staring after it. From his vantage point, Anstis can see massive pawprints dug into the torn-up earth and disappearing into the darkness.

(Jim: “I will go in the other direction.”)

#

Closer to the road, Scout ducks out of the way as cars and pickups pull up around her. She tenses too as the howl rolls over them. A fluttering draws her eye up and she sees a parrot flying in the opposite direction.

She quietly follows.

#

Rabenholz stares after the howl as Ruland’s men duck around him, scrambling down the slope to check on the burning truck. After a moment, he makes his way back up to the road.

Ruland has appeared, calming the chaos with outstretched arms. “We must continue, my brothers!” his quavering voice shouts. “The Lord’s righteousness must not tarry, and the Bringer of Redemption will join us when the time is right!”

The men cheer and climb back into the vehicles. Engines start up again. A few men grab some things from the burning husk of the semi-truck, then abandon it to the forest. Ruland’s pickup takes off down the road and the rest of the convoy follow in a cloud of dust and fumes.

Rabenholz climbs into one of the last cars. “Does Ruland anticipate that the Bringer of Redemption will meet us in Sacramento?” he asks the driver.

The man stares at him with crazed eyes and flashes a three-toothed grin. “We shall bring them redemption,” he slurs, spraying tobacco-spittle across the cab. “We shall bring them all to hell!”

Rabenholz regards him distastefully.

(Chris: “Is he a first son?”
Jason: “…”)

In one movement, Rabenholz falls on the man, pinning him to the window, gulping blood to heal his injuries and draining the rest dry. As he feeds, the last car of the convoy pulls up next to them, and stops, its occupants staring.

(Chris: “Well my guy probably looks pretty blissed out, right? And if I haven’t spilled any blood–”
Jason: “Let me put it this way. This is a right-wing fundamentalist psychotic militia group. So even if somehow you don’t spill a drop of blood, and even if somehow the dead man you are drinking blood from looks to be alive, and even if somehow you arranged everything just perfectly so they don’t know you’re doing what you’re doing…they’re going to think you’re a gay homosexual making out with him, and kill you.”)

Rabenholz looks up and meets eyes with the other driver. “Turn back, find the Bringer of Redemption.”

The passenger of the other car screams at the blood dripping down Rabenholz’s face. He pulls his shotgun and fires just as his driver is compelled to floor it. The shot goes wide, cracking the windshield, but before he can get another shot their pickup has flipped a U-turn and is racing the other way down the road.

Rabenholz finishes feeding and flings his dead driver into the forest with a simple push of his mind. Only then, though, does he realize…he can’t drive.

With a grumble, he gets out and starts walking.

#

Scout makes her way through the forest. She’s lost sight of the parrot but continues in the direction he was heading. The trees are pillars of shadow disappearing to all sides. She makes her way in obfuscated silence, picking her way carefully through the darkness.

Darkness which slowly seems to get darker. She stops. She can still make out the trees, but only a few feet in front of her. All other light has slowly been forced out. A shiver slips down her neck like a cold breeze. She backs up against a tree, drawing her knife.

A wolf–a wolf-wolf–suddenly melts from the shadows just a few feet away. Its fur is long and matted, scored with slashes and burns, and its eyes–cloudy red–stare right at her. A deep rumble escapes from its throat.

Scout whirls and bolts back toward the road. The wolf chases after.

#

Rabenholz is a few yards down the road when the sound of an engine makes him pause. The pickup has returned, cresting the rise in the road behind him. The engine roar accelerates as the passengers spot him.

Rabenholz turns as it approaches, gripping the handle of his cane-sword.

(Jason: “Dex + melee. Difficulty nine.”
Chris: “…Seven successes.”
Jason: “…On difficulty nine?!
Chris: “Yep.”
Jason: “…Shit…I wish someone else was there to see–actually, you know what?”)

#

Scout stumbles out of the woods to see Rabenholz standing in the middle of the road, staring down a pickup truck screaming toward him. He stands cooly, unmoved by the rising engine roar. At the last moment, he steps to the side, drawing the sword from his cane in one fluid motion, and crouches to slash at the front tires.

Both tires explode. The pickup keels forward and spins out as the fender crashes into the road. Sparks fly as it goes into a roll, barrelling up over the embankment. Milliseconds later it slams into a tree and slides to the ground. Silence falls. Metal groans and settles, but there’s no movement from inside the cab.

After a moment, Rabenholz slowly stands and sheathes his sword.

Scout shakes off her shock as she senses the wolf approaching. Still obfuscated, she runs to the other side of the road, putting Rabenholz–and his sword–between her and the monster.

After a moment, Rabenholz seems to feel something too. His cloak flows around him as he turns to eye the forest. An unnatural silence has fallen, deeper than the stillness after the crash. The light around them is dimming. Overhead, in the open sky above the road, the stars are going out.

Moments later, the mangled wolf limps from the darkness. It stops as it sees Rabenholz.

Rabenholz turns slowly to face it. He nods. “I am glad to see you survived the crash. Perhaps you might adopt a more comfortable form to speak in.”

The wolf growls. Scout takes a step back, fighting panic, but Rabenholz eyes the creature coolly. Something strange is happening around it; a subtle distortion, a rippling in the pattern of the underbrush.

“Walk with me for a while,” Rabenholz says, and continues striding down the road. Scout follows, keeping pace with him. On the other side of the road, the wolf does too. As they move, it’s clear it’s not staring at Rabenholz. It’s staring at Scout.

“Interesting weather for the season, don’t you think?” Rabenholz says, staring at the sky.

Wolf growls again, a low, cautious sound, as if warning something back. Rabenholz notices then that it’s staring past him. He follows its gaze, but sees nothing there. “What do you suppose that is, I wonder?” he says companionably.

Suddenly, the wolf turns and bolts away, silently melting back into the darkness. The rippling pattern stops and the stars reappear. Slowly, the night-time forest sounds do as well.

Scout breathes a sigh of relief. Rabenholz approaches the line of the woods and casts his ritual to track the movements of a target. To his eyes, a trail of dim phosphorescent pawprints disappears into the trees.

Rabenholz frowns, then pulls out his phone to call Anstis.

#

Meanwhile, while Scout and R are dealing with that, Anstis has been up to some things. After leaving the site of the crash, Anstis flew to a nearby country town and immediately decided to do some feeding through the charmingly direct method of invading some farmhouses, because things never go wrong when Jim attempts plans like this and he always has such great rolls.

Anyway, understandably, Anstis gets caught by a local sheriff’s deputy while trying to break into a house. He tries to Dominate him into standing down, but gets his ass tazed. Anstis fights back, eventually biting the man into submission, then steals his wallet and leaves him unconscious on the lawn while he continues trying to break into the house.

(Me: “…You are the new Tom.”
Jim: “I haven’t killed anybody in this town yet, I’ll have you know!”)

The moment Anstis gets through the door, he’s instantly confronted by a man with a shotgun.

(Jim: “Dominate.”
Jason: “Roll it.”
Jim: “Umm…double botch.”)

The man fires, knocking Anstis back out of the house onto the lawn. He lays there a moment, playing dead until the man comes out of the house and approaches him.

(Jim: “Lure of Flames!”)

Anstis sits up and hurls a handful of flame into the house. The fireball flies through the open door and lands on the carpet in the hallway. It ignites, spreading to some nearby curtains. The man screams and yells at someone inside the house to call the police. While his back is turned, Anstis climbs to his feet, preparing to lunge.

And that’s when Anstis’s phone rings.

The man whirls toward the noise, firing another shot. Anstis ducks out of the way just in time, then keeps running, drawing out his phone and answering as he moves. “Yes?!” he shouts.

“Mr. Anstis, what happened?” Rabenholz answers sternly. “I told you to drive the truck.”

Anstis scrambles behind the house. “I had orders from Bell to keep the Abomination from reaching Sacramento, by any means necessary!”

There’s a moment of judgemental silence. “…Very well. What happened to the rest of the convoy? As far as I can tell, they went on toward Sacramento without it.”

Sirens approach from the distance. “Then this is the best-case scenario,” Anstis says, picking his way across a flower bed.

“Have you seen Scout?”

“Nay.”

The sirens roar up and tires grind across gravel on the other side of the house. “Where are you now?” Rabenholz asks suspiciously.

“In a town, not far away.”

Rabenholz’s suspicious pause lingers, but he evidently decides to drop it. “Dawn will be in a few hours. I will attempt to get in touch with everyone. If I do not find you, lay low and I will reach you tomorrow.” Rabenholz hangs up.

Anstis peers around the side of the house. Police have shown up, along with an impromptu posse of apparently every man in town, all armed. Some are talking to the homeowner and organizing a bucket chain for the fire. The rest are spreading out through the woods, looking for Anstis.

(Me: “Seriously, how the fuck does this happen with every single fucking character of yours?!”)

Anstis melts into the woods after them, slowly stalking one who’s become separated from the others. Anstis kills him with a silent slash across the throat, drains him dry, then slashes the body more to make it look like an animal attack.

With that, Anstis turns back into a parrot and flies away, finding a quiet place deep in the forest to sink into the ground for the day.

#

Rabenholz tries to call Scout–still unaware she’s no more than a few feet away–but she doesn’t answer. Next he calls Bell to update him on the situation. For once, Bell is relieved, both that the Abomination has been separated from the militia and that Ruland’s attack on Sacramento is still proceeding as planned.

Rabenholz stares at the illuminated trail before him and asks what should be done regarding the monster. Bell says to leave it, by all accounts it should be so insane that it will be trapped outside and killed with the sunrise. Real werewolves still lurk in the northern woods, though, so Bell tells Rabenholz to find shelter and return to San Francisco as soon as he can.

Rabenholz hangs up, then lifts himself through Movement of the Mind to view the Abomination’s trail from above. It’s heading vaguely southwards, clearly moving fast, and is fading already.

From this height, he can see the earliest wisps of false dawn lighting the horizon. Turning in place, he also spots the lights of a town to the east. He raises himself higher, then releases into a controlled fall, gliding his way toward the town with his outstretched cloak.

#

Unseen below him, Scout watches him levitate off toward the east, dark cloak fluttering around him.

(Me: “Oh my god, that’s such a douchey vampire thing to do.”)

With another nervous look at the woods around her, she jogs after him.

#

Rabenholz lands lightly in the middle of town not long before dawn. He finds a random man up early–an old farmer named Leonard–and talks him into inviting him home, then finds a place to sleep in his shed. He casts his ritual to protect the structure from sunlight, but, just in case, he also Dominates Leonard into making sure no one disturbs the shed during the day.

Scout, meanwhile, reaching the town on foot not long after, finds a barn loft to hole up in. She doesn’t have the same ritual to protect her from errant light like Rabenholz has, but she does find a thick tarp to wrap herself up in. With just minutes to dawn, it will have to do, and she passes out that way.

(Jason: “I have a question at this juncture. What’s the largest city in Humboldt County?”

Me: “Uh, well the county seat is Eureka–”

Jason: “Yeah that’ll do. Okay, so everyone spend a blood. It’s now the next night. Anstis, you wake up in the middle of the woods, where you were before. Everything is just fine.” *turns to Chris and I* “You two do not. You wake up…in bags.”

Chris and me: “…Huh.”

Jason: “Let me explain what happened during the day. See, the state police descended upon this little town after several people were found to have been murdered in it. One guy–a sheriff’s deputy, in fact–seems to have died of a heart attack on the front lawn of a house that someone tried to break into. There was an arson attempt at that same house, followed by gunfire and a manhunt. But all that failed somehow to find the murderer, who dragged some motherfucker out into the woods, exsanguinated him, and left his body to be torn apart by animals. Clearly what’s going on here is some kind of crazy evil ritual cult thing, probably with nasty sex.”

Chris and me: *silence*

Jason: “So the next day, the state police blanketed this town and what did they find? Well, some guy’s barn had been broken into, and what should they find inside but a dead woman, wrapped in a tarp, with no visible cause of death!”

Me: “…Maybe drugs?”

Jason: “Or kinky sex cult, I told you so! Anyway, the police also find an old man named Leonard telling anyone who will listen to not go in his shed. Well, what do you think they do but go into the shed and find another dead body! This one some weird cloaked hippy motherfucker–carrying a sword, no less–and also dead of a drug overdose! They took Rabenholz, put him in a body bag next to the woman, and arrested Leonard for participation in an evil sex cult.” *points at Chris and me* “You two are now in the Eureka General Hospital morgue.”

Jim: *laughing at our faces* “Chaos has descended upon a peaceful town!”

Jason: “Chaos totally has descended, and you know what the best part is? Nobody else even knows about this because the news is only reporting the shit that went down yesterday in Sacramento. So nobody knows where the fuck you are!”

Jim: “And they probably have been separated from their phones….”

Jason: “Yes! All of your belongings have been itemized and stored fuck knows where. You wake up naked in body bags–”

Chris: “…Great.”

Jason: “–With formaldehyde injected into you–”

Me: “Aww, son of a bitch!

Jason: “–And Eureka is a big enough town that there may or may not be some kindred in it, but even if there are, you sure as fuck don’t know who they are, you don’t know who their ghouls might be, and you have no contacts within the hospital. This ain’t something where someone is going to show up and wake your asses up. You’re locked in body bags in a morgue you don’t know. See you all next week.”)


END OF NIGHT

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9 Responses to 10/1/15

  1. Oh that was beautiful.

  2. MorienneMontenegro says:

    I really want to know what went down in Sacremento now.

    Or even better:

    I want to know how Bell’s face looked like if that abomination actually made it back to sacremento.

    BTW mechanically speaking
    in many ways an abomination is far weaker than a regular werewolf.

    • Colleen says:

      I absolutely agree, the only thing better than destroying something is seeing Bell’s face when we told him we destroyed something.

      Oh wow really? Are you sure? Cause Jason has basically been talking up the terrifyingness of Abominations for *years*, real-time years, assuring us that they were nigh-impossible to create and so deadly that if one was to actually succeed it would be bad news bears for all involved.

      Which is why, of course, no one was surprised that day when he eventually DID put one in the game. xP

      • MorienneMontenegro says:

        Even physical disciplines + regular buffs from crinos form is terrifying.

        They cant use spend resources from different pools in the same turn (gnosis, rage, blood) if I remember correctly they all suffer from a sort of depression (imagine a very severe form of flashbacks flaw) which cause them to have reduced willpower or something similiar (gotta check the details) and while they retain their previous Gifts they can only learn gifts from Banes. Granted there are lots of “exceptions” to these rules that a ST can use to make an abomination something truly to be feared. However a baseline abomination is (IMHO) less powerful than a normal werewolf.

      • Colleen says:

        (Dammit, WordPress comments only allow so many nested tiers in response threads)

        Huh, that’s a good point. I mean, Jason has pointed out many times in the past that even the most basic werewolf gifts are equitable to the higher levels of vampire disciplines, so adding the vampiric element might not add much.

        In my own spitballing, though, I might say that since creating the Abomination without it A) immediately dying, or 2) killing everything around it and THEN dying, probably involves pulling in other freaky forces we don’t even know about yet.

        And it’s not like we already have half-demonic uber-vampires and suspected Nephandi running around, do we? Haha, ha, haaaaa….. *curls up in a ball*

      • I wouldn’t say that an Abomination is “weaker” than a regular werewolf, at least not categorically.

        Aside from sunlight they don’t really gain any vulnerabilities. They can’t regenerate, but can blood heal which while limited is in many ways more advantageous. They can only enact and learn Wyrm *rites*, but that’s not the same as Gifts. Though I doubt they’d learn too many gifts from regular spirits, banes can teach you plenty of normal gifts, as well as all the horribly powerful wyrm gifts you like.

        They can’t increase their permanent willpower with XP, and they can’t increase their Gnosis trait at all, but if those things were high to begin with (if they survived the process, having a lot of willpower is pretty likely) then that’s not terribly burdensome. They can’t spend Rage, Gnosis, or Blood in the same round, but regular werewolves can’t spend Rage and Gnosis in the same round either, and don’t have Blood, so that’s not a downgrade.

        They do have the depression thing, and they have to spend willpower to use their full die pools. That’s the worst feature for any Abomination that lives more than a short time.

        MOST of them go insane and basically go on a rampage until something kills them (e.g. the sun, or an army) but if you think about Crinos form and even just…blood buffs, that’s a hell of a wrecking ball. They aren’t as effective as a Garou in control of herself, sure, but probably at least twice as deadly as some asshole in Wyrmfrenzy, which is saying something. Still, the typical Abomination is scary and dangerous, but usually a short term type of problem one way or another.

        Those few that retain their sanity, though, are TERRIFYING. Imagine a garou with passive vampire stat buffs like Potence and/or Fortitude. They can’t regenerate, but they can still soak aggravated damage from everything but silver, and could get more Stamina than your average deity. And that’s just the basic stuff. Given any amount of time to plan, they come up with scary shit, e.g. founding the Society of Nidhogg.

        Now, the one in this story seems maybe not totally sane. I don’t know exactly what the nature of Ruland’s control over it is, or how Flagg/Perpenna is involved , but those two factors probably more than make up for any lack of sanity. It might not be the type to make long term plans, but it’s probably at least a juggernaut that will take a hell of a lot of work to stop, causing immense carnage along the way. I highly doubt that it’s going to rampage around the woods until sunrise and then obligingly die, given what we saw so far. It might not be as bad as an Abomination with it’s own plans, but it seems to be following someone else’s and that’s super bad news.

  3. MorienneMontenegro says:

    Who is the suspected Nephandi (the only part of this blog I ever skipped was that whole bit with georgia and mages in outer umbra) ?

    Anyhow I have 2 finals today I was here just to check the blog as usual and Jim’s drawing cracked me up really good. If you are reading this Jim, thank you, you have my gratitude this morning.

    • Colleen says:

      Ahh, well, it might be just meta-game information that leads to the suspicion, so if it’s not clear from in-game material then I shant say more 😉

      Hope your finals went well!

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