Ceteri Campaign – S1E2: Alarums and Excursions

What happened before

Last time, we got ganked at a barbeque. We survived and won, and walked away with a gigantic arsenal. Full-auto converted AR15 rifles, 2kg of heroin, modern body armor. We fled the scene with the evidence, and found that Myriam may have been killed in a simultaneous attack on the house, which is a smouldering wreck when we roll out to a safe house.

Dramatis Personae

Kamali Blackshear (18): Kamali is a young boy in his early teens. He is healthy and is of mixed ethnicity of Caucasian South African and native South African. He is a determined youth who believes in a justice of his own, likening himself to the knight of the round whom he has read deeply into. Just as they stood against the darkness of their age so too does Kamali seek to do the same. For his sister, for his friends, and for the world.

Tag: “A knight without a sword carrying a faith nobody believes.”

Lorenzo DeModouco (18): A handsome and charismatic musician. The loss of his parents didn’t dampen his spirits and he soldiered on after their death. He’s the cheery one always trying to make others happy and sometimes spontaneously breaks into song. Perceptive of others and their feelings, Lorenzo is the one who knows what people are thinking by the looks on their face. He’s also a boy scout and is quite comfortable in the wild.

TAG: “He’s a Jukebox Hero. He’s got stars in his eyes. A Jukebox Hero – he’ll make sure you survive.”

Amos M. Humiston (19) – This boy is far from where he started out at the orphanage. His comfortable existence already gone and instead has gotten used to his new life. Not like his brothers, his talents lay more in mental pursuits and has already started towards getting a double Masters degree at a local college aiming for his goal of becoming a research librarian. Following in his family’s footsteps almost unknowingly, he exhibits certain talents towards more occult pursuits such as druidism and alchemy, mixing up herbal supplements and elixers for the team. And while he’s still somewhat still slipping along behind the group, he has become a lot more outgoing with the rest of the Orphans and have started making friends with folks outside his adopted brothers. Always showing concern for them and trying to make sure they know everything that they need to when it comes to the dangers they face.

Tag: “True alchemists do not change lead into gold; they change the world into words.”

Gabriel MacAlister (18) – Built like the natural athlete he is, he has grown taller, stronger, and more solidly good-looking. A quiet and hard-working lad, always ready to lend a hand with any work, which he will do without complaint or obligating the other person to respond. He is an expert martial arts teacher, and has been following in the footsteps of a carpenter for some time now. Emphatically not a pushover or weak personality, but also not one to purposefully show off. Has been in many horrible places and seen many horrible things; he’s a bit of a compulsive planner as a result, as well as always feeling that most folks don’t really know how lucky they are. He lost a leg fighting zombies; he got an artificial replacement and kept on fighting the good fight.

Tag: “To serve others is the highest calling; to protect the meek the noblest endeavor, and our works are judged by the effort that went into them”

Timothy I Mitchell (19): Timothy possess an honest if forgettable face. He tends towards comfortable, though inexpensive clothing and durable running shoes, rounding off his typical attire is a deep pocketed jacket and a backpack slung over one shoulder. Timothy appears to be a poster-boy for bad kids, often finding himself in trouble with any and all forms of authority. A victim of neglect, driven to never become a victim again he often acts seemingly on impulse, taking any dare or challenge in his stride. Timothy doesn’t have friends, not in any real sense. Too few of the people who enter his orbit can deal with him in anything more than bite sized pieces, a fact which only further frustrates the young teenager.

Tag: “Darkness is within all of us, it’s how you use that darkness that matters”

Conversations in a Warehouse

We got into the safe house at 9am. We then slept immediately for four hours each; we all have Less Sleep. The action really picks up at 8am the next day (May 2), but we have some things take care of, first.

We try and make sense of what happened. We suspect that the vampires mind controlled the gangbangers, since all of the potentially incriminating evidence in the vans is not typical method of operation for a drive-by shooting. Way too much “riding dirty.” The fact is they hit us in broad twilight, so to speak, and hit the house – as well-warded as it was – at the same time. Potentially taking out a major player in Myriam. We’re skeptical that they actually got her until we see the body; Schrodinger’s Myriam until then.

We begin to suspect that the trouble that Kamali’s sister had gotten into that drew Myriam off her guard was engineered, and set about to gently question her about the situation.

First things first: Carl’s dad. Bit by vamps.

First stage is The Burning. Lethargy, symptoms like hemorrhagic fever. But he’s susceptible, it seems, and fading fast. We can administer the sap or juice of a juniper tree . . . or holy water, garlic, or a few other things. Huh – we can turn the crash kits each which come with saline IVs. So Gabe blesses the saline and Lorenzo or Carl adminster the IV. A good roll for Amos’ esoteric medicine skill means he already has all that stuff on hand. Amos is also pulling out a Bolster Attribute on Carl’s dad, and Gabe can do Lay on Hands a bit, both of which will keep him alive and not succumbing to The Burning.

We need to keep him stable for three days, and something tells us that we don’t have three days to play nursemaid.

Kamali places a few calls; finds out who’s missing both gang members and two kilograms of heroin. Then calls them directly, and lets them know he’s got the drugs. But is wondering why their boys got trigger happy all of a sudden. The boss wants to talk to Kamali.

“Mr . . . Kamali? Would you have happened to find these items in Christian Herter park yesterday?” Well, yes. “Assume you were not the one involved in its initial loss?” No, just dropped in my lap with a significant lead deposit. The Boss would certainly be interested in retrieving his lost item. Bring it. Yourself. To a certain place. Can Kamali bring a friend? Of course. 9am, then.

Timothy is volunteered, and volunteers to case the joint up close. Gabe volunteers to be on overwatch with a rifle. Nah. But the coffee is good, and they have outdoor seating. We decide that Gabe will accompany Kamali, being the obvious (non threat) with the gimpy leg and the cane. Hopefully that’ll be an obvious distraction, with Timothy being the somewhat hidden threat. We are ready and looking for double-crosses as well.

Gabe will bring his body armor (flexible, not the trauma plate), his sword cane, and his concealable pistol.

As the combatants plan, Amos is trying to cast a spell (Druidism at -3), it’s going to take a bit to work the ritual (about 30 minutes, effectively a druidic bandaging), and Carl helps.

As they cast spells and keep Carl’s dad alive, and we figure out how to bring 2kg of heroin to a meeting with some mob bosses (that sounded so much less bad when we were planning it), Carl basically turned our prisoners into Duct Tape Mummies to secure them.

As we wait in down time, we check the news. There was a string of robberies, from 1:30pm, down to about 7:30pm (which not coincidentally was when we riddled these guys with holes), and about 90 million dollars were stolen. Many simultaneous robberies; we decide to look carefully at the trucks, just in case. Nothing there. Alas.

We head out, on the way to the coffee shop. “Mr Big” is just sitting there in an impeccably tailored suit – he’s enjoying an espresso. Black suit, red tie, blackish/dark brown hair, blue eyes. And a Jonathan Frakes style goatee. Behind him is a ludicrously large woman, dressed in a pantsuit; she’s basically solid muscle. We roll up and walk up with a satchel. He invites us to sit down with a “Good morning, Mr. Blackshear.” Ah, you know my name, which is not a surprise.

The guy in front of us doesn’t look like a criminal. Average or slightly above-average in height; Kamali introduces Gabe as “my brother.” His name is Muldoon.

“Hmm. You have my lost dog?”

We ensure that no one is looking; we pass it over no issue. “I assume you want something for this service.”

We basically ask him if he knows what was going on, because we don’t think Big sent the goons after us. They’d successfully “adopted the dog,” and then some hours later, 23 fresh corpses showed up at the morgue. We let him know that these guys showed up at our BBQ party, with some new friends. We still have two of them. Oh, did any dogs bite them? Not that we know of.

“Do you read, Mr Blackshear?” Quite a bit. “If I were writing a story, would you believe what you just told me? Is it believable?”

“Nothing I just told you is believable; but turning it around, how does what happened with your men attacking us come off as not your fault either?”

“No one can kill 23 of my men and not pay weregeld, don’t you think?”

“That’s one way to look at it, but not the right way. You’re getting what was yours back, but your men did attack us. We propose aggressive neutrality between us, until we get to the bottom of this.”

There are a few more threats, which we let roll off of us. We don’t want trouble here, and it serves us well to let him think we’re scared of him. He insists we report to him every four hours. We assent for the moment, just (in theory) to simmer things down.

Note: Gabe doesn’t like this much; the animal-animal nature of it, and us just seemingly giving in to “the bigger dog” doesn’t sit right with Gabe. I think we’re signing up for more than we bargained for by not resisting or shrugging off some of his “me Tarzan, you ape” control attempts.

Still, we realize that we have about four hours to get some info from our pair of apprehended unlawful combatants.

When we get back, one of the guys is dead. It looks like they were trying to get out of their bonds, and one of the duct tape bonds slipped up and suffocated them. Oh . . . crap. Carl comes over, and goes for CPR and adrenaline . . . and a crit success (!!) brings him back. Holy crap that was close.

We bring him to a common neutral zone for the familes; a junkyard owned by a guy who’s a little crazy (ex-Marine crazy) and very dangerous when unhinged. So folks don’t mess with the neutral ground.

Timothy begins to interrogate our prisoners. They have no memory of attacking us. He does remember a hobo that seemed to have eyes of burnished gold; we check and yep. Vampires eyes glow red or orange. Timothy shows a necklace of pointy vampire teeth to the guy, who absolutely loses his mind. He loses control of his bodily functions in fear. Timothy has had quite enough. He re-gags the dude and lets him eat his own vomit a bit. Timothy has no f**ks to give for those not his brothers.

We start to wonder why the vamps seem to have targeted us; we didn’t mess with them, after all.

Both as Gabe and as Gabe’s player, I think we’ve made an impression on the town. We’re players, and on video as players. Serious combatants that need to be removed from the board.

We blindfold him and are ready to take him back. But we also have Myriam’s (maybe) body to identify. We also wonder what was about the huge explosion (both physical and psychic) that emanated from the harbor.

We head over the the scrap yards at the right time. Muldoon is there, and so is his giant female bodyguard. We give back just about everything except for the medical supplies and the cash (about $18,000 worth).

Elias Muldoon introduces himself formally; Kamali decides to wear the vamptooth necklace. Muldoon looks over the vehicles. Kamali asks him about fangs. Muldoon tells a story. Boston is an old city. Around 1820, a creature with fangs – a vampire or nosferatu – came to the city and brought death with it. Shortly thereafter, an alliance of various groups brought it down, along with a man who defeated it and all of its children.

Did it have gold eyes?

Gold eyes? That’s interesting.

Muldoon interrogates the henchman we are starting to refer to as sh__-stain. Stain gets intimidated by Timothy, who gently clears his throat, and rapidly changes his story from a mass-roofie to the same story he told Timothy.

We tell Muldoon we’re going to find out what happened whether or not he believes us. We’ll call him when we know something. He pulls out a slip of paper from his jacket, with an address on it. “This may be of interest to your investigation.”

Kamali asks about the bodyguard’s name. “Ingrid.” Yeah, that’s going anywhere.

Timothy makes sure that we’re all on the even here. No autopsy, no foul, and part ways? Yeah. We showed respect, didn’t overstep, we’re done. Good.

We need to pick up Amos, after piling back in the car. We then head over to Myriam’s house to see what we can find. The glamours are still up. We check out the body and the vehicle that blew up. Gabe (fireproof) walks around; the frame of the house was reinforced with steel; parts of the house were reinforced with steel plates. They’re crunchy and warped from the fire. We check the car; all of the ID marks on the box van/truck that exploded were removed . . . except they missed one on the engine itself.

We try and ID the body. We find Myriam’s jewelry, her jewelry, the scar on the back of her head, the dent in her skull from where she was wounded once. Cause of death is . . . well, pretty damn obvious.

There’s another body there as well, burnt to hell and in two pieces. Kamali reaches out to

We start looking for shrapnel from the van, see if we can call up some forensics, and Gabe suggests that we call the Conclave to help get a magical picture of the bomb before it blew. Oh, wait . . . Kamali can do that. He spends a lot of fatigue. He gets impressions of the bomb itself. It had a very specific arc – it was supposed to blow forward like a shotgun blast (tamped). The bomber was not going to survive, either. That guy was happy to serve his master. Maybe a vampire thrall. It was a very, very deliberate attack.

Well, well. That sounds like war to Gabe. His father taught him how to fight a war.

We look for the armory; it’s now a solid wall. We try and call Desiree . . . no answer. Fine. We have Kamali’s 14yo sister watch the 4yo (she pulls out a .22 derringer like she knows how to use it). We leave her with Carl and his dad.

We go and gear up.

We arrive at the house; it’s old, broken down. We have flashbacks to our first supernatural encounter. Good. We killed everything there.

Gabe hits himself with Righteous Fury and is now ST 21, DX 20, HT 15. He’s got his mail, breastplate, spear, axe, red-hilted sword, an AR-15, and his pistol. Hell, even his .300 Winchester magnum is in the car. Gabe just strides up to the door and kicks it in. Something charges him; he impales it with his spear and pins it to the wall. He wins the contest of ST to keep him there.

Kamali tries to lop off the limbs as it claws at Gabe’s spear; he succeeds. Lorenzo says it’s not evil; Amos says it’s a feral vampire. The lowest form of vampire, when something goes wrong with the transformation.

Gabe keeps the thing pinned to the wall with his spear; he fast-draws the red-hilted sword and decapitates it. The sword absorbs the blood into the sword. We head directly to the basement. We find there 40-50 feral vampires that have stakes through their chests. They are very much alive, stacked like cordwood. Gabe moves on. There’s nothing else in the house that’s moving or a threat.

Gabe invokes smite on the vamps, an emanation that causes them to burn and explode. Gabe recommends to his fellows that they leave; he’s fireproof, they’re not, to quote a BPRD agent.

The team searches frantically while Gabe does his pyro thing. They find a fairly newly fallen playing card; Kamali takes it outside to do retrocognition. It belonged to a hobo that got snacked on. Hrm. There have been a lot of missing hobos. Kamali gets a picture of where he was; he knows exactly which overpass to check out.

“Remember how we were investigating the missing homeless? I don’t think the ghouls were the only source of that. I think the vamps are turning the homeless. We might be talking to vampires and not even know it down in that sewer.”

Kamali gives an address. Gabe says “anyone with me, is with me.” He waits just long enough for Kamali to get in the car, then he’s on the direct line to kill more vampires.

Lorenzo, the volunteer fireman, stays behind. He’s a bard, there’s no Fast-Talk roll he can’t make; that’s the best way to cover our tracks. He crits his fast-talk roll, the counter roll (Reaction) is a 17 even without bonuses . . . he’s a hero. Great job, etc.

We go search the underpass; it’s about 5:30pm. The hobo-town is 100′ away from the road, and the trees. The stuff is there, valuables are there, but no people.

We do a bit of occultism . . . there are probably 100 vampires or so that were created. Myriam definitely had a specific beef with vampires in the past.

Hrm. Some ideas. 50 dead vampires – someone pinned them in place. Perhaps they were being stored? We have a vampiric plague going on, so we should look for cases in the past where one happened. We’re being targeted deliberately, and there’s more going on, because of giant psychic explosion. Feral vamps couldn’t have planned this, because freakin’ insane. So someone’s directing this, and it’s not a feral. And Muldoon knows.

We have a long debate about “coincidence” that I can’t reproduce.

We use SeekerSense to find Desiree. . .

We drive for an hour, and end up in downtown Boston. We end up at a building, where ESP says Desiree is. The entrance is like the Room of Requirement – it’s wherever and whatever it needs to be. A slot opens. “Why are you here?” Amos can’t resist. “We’re here to see the Wizard!”

Oh God. Diplomacy – made it by four. The person behind the door just cracks up.

“Don’t encourage  him,” we say.

They decide no one that goofy could be dangerous. They let us in.

“Do NOT encourage him!” we repeat.

We go see Desiree. The 1500 square foot room is filled with wounded folks.

“Waitaminute. None of you are sorecers except him. What are you doing here?”

We’re here to see Desiree. We push pretty hard.

They were attacked; not by vampires.

“We lost entire . . . ‘

“Shut up, don’t tell them anything. They could be a part of this.”

Dammit, take me to my girlfriend so I can heal her.

An older black man limps up to us in bloody coveralls. Gabe wants to be escorted to Desiree. They refuse. Gabe leave.

Out of character: too many impediments. Too much skepticism. Too much getting in the way of us helping out where it’s obvious they need allies.

*** ** ***

We end there.





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