Wednesday 3rd August
3:30am, Roadside, Rent in the Spirit World, One Tree Hill
The second vozhd crashes off upslope. Isobella flees up the gravel road. The heavily injured and highly malevolent / unstable characters stare at each other in the aftermath of combat. Smoke still whisps up from their gun barrels and the corpse of the first monstrosity blocking the road in front of their car, which has one wheel over the road’s edge.
Anthony heals the worst of the others’ injurys with Scent of Life and opens the back of the fourby, laying out a jacket for Saul (who has reached Perfect Introspection) to curl up on and fall unconscious.
A gentle breeze begins flowing through the ghost gum scrub, downwards into the bottom of the spiraling rent valley.
The characters talk about what to do:
Anthony: “I think we should keep going down, but slowly… In reverse”
Donald: “I’ll back you on that.”
Anthony: “Saul can lead the way.”
They reload, running short on uzi ammo, haul Isobella’s fourwheel drive fully back onto the road, and get in. Belinda takes the wheel, easing them past the huge vozhd corpse, doing a three point turn between slope and drop off, and easing the four wheel drive in reverse down the constant descending curve of the gravel road.
Bottom of the Rent
Belinda’s eyes are on the road with darkness pressing in on her tail lights. Donald keeps watch on the slope above them, Evan is asleep, Saul unconscious, while Anthony peers down into the valley bottom. Still one turn from the valley base he sees their destination, a scene lit by the faltering headlights of a beat up old sedan.
A rusted metal cross stands before a open pit into nothingness. At the foot of the cross, a very tall (nine foot), completely hairless woman, who has severed chains dangling from manacles at wrist and ankle, holds the kicking body of a ganger off the ground while she drinks its blood. The drained corpses of four other gangers lie scattered at her feet while a dapper, well dressed gentleman talks calmly to her. Beside, and slightly behind, the gentleman a naturally tall (six foot) woman dressed in corporate gothic style stands attentively by.
To Anthony’s Spirit Sight the very tall bald woman seems a monstrously powerful vampire, much stronger again than even the Prince, or Zhou. Finishing her last victim she also seems flush with blood. Her sheer potance in contrast against the essence devouring void behind her means Anthony is unable to determine much about the people talking to her other than that the man is a vampire and his assistant a ghoul, while her ganger victims are most likely fledgeling vampires or ghouls.
Anthony: “Slow down. We’re over matched.”
Donald: “I say we soil ourselves, regroup, and come up with a different plan. Hang on… Lets make like a Tree and Leave!”
Belinda (taking the car out of reverse): “You’ve been waiting to say that!”
Anthony: “Yes Donald, I think it is time we were gone with the wind.”
They drive away cautiously. Donald spots the injured vozhd slinking down through the bush like a hound toward its master, but nothing pursues the characters as they crunch steadily up road and out of the Rent.
4am, Mount Cootha
Anthony rings Isobella as they emerge back into the real world and his phone gains reception. She answers, seeming to have gained much more respect for, and caution of, the characters, refusing to meet up with them in person. Anthony glosses over Saul’s descent into absolute malevolence and his attempt to eat her as “part of what we are” and she seems to understand, “so you have something like ‘the beast’ as well…”
She seems very concerned when Anthony describes the scene they saw at the bottom of the rent, saying that Ulyana (the very tall woman) will likely seek revenge against every Camarilla in the city for sealing her. I’m pretty certain she mentioned that she’d been unable to get hold of either the Bailiff or the Prince and encouraged the characters to try and contact them. She indicated that she would remain on Mount Cootha and try to re-establish the wards on the spirit world rent from the outside. She didn’t seem hopefull, however indicating that the dapper man who’d freed Ulyana was, from his description, most likely the black priest, and would be her match as a ritualist.
She asks the characters to seek help, giving them the adress of the Prince’s compound in Hamilton, as well as an adress in Samford Valley to which she says her injured (and Stix) had been headed to.
Belinda turns the car downhill, toward the city. After hanging up the characters decide among themselves that they will go to the Prince’s address first and try to see what happened there. But Anthony adds the proviso: “Something else to think about, this seems to be a vampire problem…”
Evan stirs awake on the back seat, in a voice lacking the southern tradie accent he says, “I agree.”
Meanwhile, back at the Tree
After exhausting all his will and building up enough Malevolence to fall into a state of Perfect Introspection during the fight against the vozhd, Saul’s conciousness had, as after the fight with the R-Zee’s, returned to the Tree. Unlike the previous time however he became aware just how freed from his human nature he had become, much closer to being a raw roots aspect entity once more. It realises that it is possible to:
Effectively Devour himself yielding up to ten essence worth of soul fragments per domain level (player’s choice). Must be at the Tree in a state of Perfect Introspection. The aspect is left with its progress in innate power lines.
Locate and merge with a new host, looking for people who either died or offer themselves completely in a manner that appeals to the aspect (valor, sacrifice, revenge, etc – the bold emotions tend to attract attention). Must be at the Tree in a state of Perfect Introspection. Note that ‘Saul’ realised it is possible to merge with a new host without first devouring the old. It has a feeling it could only maintain one host active at a time.
Ride Temporarily take control of another aspects body, using own innate powers but the body’s ‘other’ powers, skills, and attributes. Must be at the Tree to ride another, can only ride one at a time. The other aspect must also be at the Tree and willing to lend its mortal vessel.
note I’m cancelling the ability to ride each other’s vessels, too much of a easy out ;p
Saul also gets an idea that the third level innate domain power will allow aspects to physically recall their mortal vessels to the Tree (and re-enter the physical world.
Because his mortal vessel is still depleted of will and highly unstable the aspect known as Saul jumps into the Evan’s vacant mortal vessel – hence why ‘Evan’ woke in the back of the car.
4:20am, On the road into the City
Anthony takes a nap to visit the Tree and break down some fragments (to avoid random breakdown destroying better fragments). This drops his malevolence
Riding Evan’s body, Saul shares his new knowledge with the others.
Donald tries to ring the Prince but it rings out. Then he tries ringing the Bailiff, but goes to voice mail. He leaves a message for Mikael: “Isobella told us to contact you, were on our way to see the Prince. Call us back (gave Anthony’s number).
Next he tries to call William Negis, the keeper of Elysium. He gets one of the guards instead who appologises saying there have been attacks and asks, “What information do you have for us Mr Trunk?” Donald tells the guard that Isobella needs reinforcement at the Rent and that Ulyana is loose. The guard sounds confused: “Where are the Sabbat attacking?” Donald: “I need to talk to your superior!” The guard agrees to get William to ring back as soon as possible, suggesting it might take around twenty minutes.
Meanwhile on the radio the characters are hearing that martial law has been declared and people are being told to stay in their houses, with stories of rioting and unrest. The streets are deserted (which is not all that unnatural for 4am on a wednesday). Halfway down Coronation Drive Belinda passes a police car on the side of the road. It pulls out behind her, flashing its lights and she slows, pulls over, uses central locking to secure all the doors and raise all the windows.
There is a few minutes wait while the officer runs their plates, does paperwork or whatever in his car then he comes walking up toward them. Isobella winds down her window just a crack and the officer leans down: “Evening ma’m are you aware there is a curfew in place?” “No officer,” Belinda gives her best innocent look, “I was just on my way home over in West End.” He asks for her license and Belinda gives it to him (“I’ve just moved”). Somehow the officer (who looks quite tired) does not push this, or even enquire why she’s driving someone else’s car, or notice the uzies and shotguns strewn around the inside, or remark on the passanger’s torn, bloodstained clothing, or even the highly malevolent wildman asleep in the back. He returns Belinda’s license admonishing her to go straight home. She gives him a friendly smile and drives on. At the end of Corination Drive, instead of turning right for west end Belinda turns left to go over Spring Hill toward Hamilton.
4:30am, Spring Hill
Coming down St Pauls Terrace toward the Valley Donald either gets a callback from William or calls back himself and gets through. “I think you should consider sending help to Isobella because there is a rather tall angry looking woman talking with a dark princly looking fellow who has a many headed dog and seems to want a piece of all of you!” William agrees to the severity but says they’ve been stretched very thin with several attacks on vampires across the city, including an attack on the prince’s compound involving a rogue unit from the army.
At about this point Anthony, with extra ordinary senses, realises that glow in the sky to the east is from a rather large fire, in say… Hamilton. He can also see many police lights reflecting off the smoke and tells Belinda they won’t be needing to go to the Prince’s place after all since the attackers have probably burned it.
Still on the phone Donald relays this and William tells him to take care. Donald, “Take care yourself. I think you may be in for a busy night.”
At that moment police lights flash in Belinda’s rear view mirror. She pulls over again and this time a police woman taps on the window. Belinda smiles again, but this time there’s something flat about her ‘just going home story’. The police woman’s flash light wanders to Donald’s torn and bloody clothes in the passanger seat, the sleeping forms in the back. She leaps back, hand to hip: “Get out of the car! Get out of the car right now! Keep your hands where I can see ’em.”
Belinda and Donald comply, coming around to put their hands on the hood of the vehicle as instructed. The police woman seems reluctant to come close enough to cuff or search them however, asking instead how they became injured. Belinda spins her a story about how they’ve just driven in from way out of town and were attacked at a rest stop (if I’m remembering it right) by a mob of people. The officer seems even more concerned: “Were you bitten!?! Did anyone bite you?” When they answer no she relaxes a little, taking another step back and half turning away to radio in a report.
Belinda looks at Donald, Donald looks at Belinda. They piss bolt for their seats with Belinda just getting her door closed as the police woman turns, and yelling for them to stop pulls out her gun. Bullets sprang on the driver’s side window, but this is Isobella’s four wheel drive and it, of course, has been fitted with bullet proof glass. Donald, with a longer distance around, jumps into the passenger side and Belinda plants her foot on the accelerator, waking Anthony and Evan (re:saul) as three more bullets sprang off the back window on a good path to have otherwise ended up in the back of the drivers head.
There follows a short, fast car chase. Belinda intends to head down toward the Hamilton / the Valley to lose the police car behind them, but (botch) gets tripped up where most of the road becomes lanes turning right down into the cbd. An over correction (another botch) sees the car skidding, hitting the curb wheels square on sideways and rolling up the steps into a shop front. Miraculously none of the passengers are injured, but the four wheel drive is on it side, driver side down as the police woman stops her car, lights flashing, in the middle of the intersection and approaches cautiously, gun drawn.
“Fuck you Pig!” Donald pops up out of the passenger window and unloads his uzi into her. She falls, just barely clinging to conciousness (5 damage but soaked 2, so takes three were as a human taking 4 in one blow would have been KO). Belinda tries to pop up beside him but (yet another botch – I think this one was a double?) her uzi catches on the edge of the window glass, and the burst of gunfire sends bullets ricocheting around inside the car.
Now very awake Saul, (using Evan’s body) jumps out with his big double barrel sawn off as the cop squirms away in her own blood, trying to radio for help. “Drop the gun,” he tells her, “and we’ll leave you alive.” Instead she tries to shoot him. Saul botches and his shotgun goes off early, taking out the front window of the pub across the road. The cop botches and her gun slips out of her grasp. Anthony races over to grab and pin her. I think she may have managed to pepper spray him, but that ended up hurting her more than the awakened.
Donald joins Anthony in devouring that brave police woman in the middle of a spring hill intersection. Her soul turns out to be high quality, no shoot skill but fragments of both resolve and composure. Donald gains yet more instability to Absorb the Resolve, while the Composure tempts Anthony but he passes. He does however pick up her service pistol (a ten mill), baton, and ID.
Meanwhile Saul (in Evan’s body) drags his own comatose body out of the four wheel drive and over to the police car. “Lets get the fuck out of here,” he proposes, going back for the chainsaw. The others quickly agree, transferring the guns and ammo bag etcetera from the overturned vehicle into the flashing police car. They pile in. Belinda: “alright, someone else drive.”
5am, Performing Arts Centre
With Donald behind the wheel and the lights turned off the characters turn around and drive down to southbank, headed for elysium instead of the Prince’s compound. They see two more police cars on their way, each on major in roads for the cbd, but no one stops them as they slide on by in a stolen police car of their own.
They stop a block or so short of elysium and approach on foot, chainsaw in hand and guns piled in a sports bag they found in the back of the police car. There are heavily armed guards everywhere on the perimeter. One approaches them, recognising them and welcoming them, but telling them that they can’t bring weapons inside Elysium.
Donald rings William, passing him quickly to the guard who explains the situation and passes the phone back. Over the phone William reiterates that they can’t bring weapons into Elysium, saying that they’ve already been attacked a couple of times that night, but offers to have the guards store their weapons for them while their on the grounds. In there somewhere he mentions that he’s sent four men to reinforce Isobella on Mount Cootha.
The character’s refuse to part with their weapons even temporarily, asking instead if they could have a car. William agrees to lend them a car but seems concerned, asking if they’re sure they have enough time to get under cover before sunrise – which causes some funny looks among the characters. They assure him that they’ll be fine.
A guard brings an upmarket sedan around for them. “Is it bullet proof?” Belinda asks brightly. Anthony looks at her dryly, “If we don’t fire bullets inside our car we won’t have to find out.”
The characters depart, headed for Belinda’s house, having neatened themselves up and hidden their guns away properly this time.
5:30am, Belinda’s house
I don’t think they got pulled up on the way home (not sure how they got back over river without going through the cbd actually). Donald sent Isobella a txt on the way: “William sending 4 people. We’re at Belinda’s. Martial law declared. Don’t drive in the city.”
Returning they find Belinda’s suburb quiet. Usually by this time the sky would be paling, but its still black as the void with just the streaked red ‘stars’ within it. Belinda’s house seems untouched. The character’s check Evan’s pit traps, half expecting to find ganger fledglings or zombies stuck on the stakes and commenting that Evan must be a prophet.
Tired after a very long day most of the characters go to bed. Saul (in Evan’s body) stays up a bit longer, boarding up the downstairs windows and checking the house in general (must be getting contaminated by Evan’s thought processes). He to goes to bed.
At the Tree
The characters take some time to heal and some of them Ameliorate down a little instability (I think Evan, the real Evan, actually Absorbed to increase his). Other wise its mainly rest, recuperation, and the release of Malevolence.
5pm, Belinda’s House
When the characters wake it is still pitch dark outside, and now it is noticeably cold, colder than it usually ever gets in this subtropical city.
Anthony rings his daughter Clara. She sounds worried, even scared, and glad to hear from him. Says she’s stayed at home with her family but that the news has stories of rioting and attacks, and even cannibalism in the streets. Anthony tells her that she’s doing the right thing obeying the curfew, but that her family should gather with their neighbours in the best house in their street and prepare for a long stay.
Saul’s mortal vessel has regained one will, but even having just ameliorated some instability that would still leave it in a state of Ecstatic Abandon (as in kill everything) if it were to wake. Instead the aspect or roots opts to ride Evan’s mortal vessel (that aspect of heartwood still being asleep in the Tree). He rings Stix: “Hey, this is… err… Evan. How’s things?” Stix sounds healthy and happy, confirming that he’s with Isobella’s injured ghouls in a house in Samford Valley. ‘Evan’ tells him to stay put and be safe.
Someone tries ringing Isobella, but her phone rings out.
The characters talk about what to do next. Anthony in particular strongly wants to ‘rescue’ Isobella’s library: “It may be in danger, and we would use the research.” The characters decide to pop over to her house, like a shopping trip, which turns their thoughts to groceries.
6pm, A Food Mart between Belinda and Isobella’s houses
They took the car they got from Elysium.
Belinda: “lets avoid using cars registered to me.”
Saul (re:Evan): “What are we doing about cops.”
Donald: “We’re… much more prepaired now.”
The streets are empty. Pulling up at the front of the food mart reveals locked doors etc so, after some thought they go around the back to the loading docks.
Donald jimmies the locks and they get in to have a bit of a spree, starting with cartons of canned food, esp lentils, beans, corn, peas, spam etc. At first Anthony insists they take only enough to fill the boot of the car, wanting to leave space for Isobella’s books. But Donald has a hankering for cereal, and not the sensible oats and bran kind but more along the lines of coco pops and fruit loops.
After some grumbling about the space such light, air filled products will take up Anthony gets distracted in turn by honey (manuka honey for its antibacterial properties of course) and the car starts to fill. Saul (re:Evan) throws in a few cartons of long life milk (you’ve got to have milk with your cereal). Then they remember the health care isles and go to town with cartons of band aids, antiseptic creams, pain killers, iodine, mouthwash and rubbing alcohol. I’m pretty sure they’re thinking of these item’s potential value in the current situation rather than worrying that they’ll need any for themselves.
Donald stocks up on garlic, bottled and fresh:“I don’t care if its true.” He also gets a carton or two of condoms: “Are we going back down south cause I may need some prophylactics if we’re going back there…”
Someone starts in on the matches, lighters, lighter fluid, kerosene (Evan’s influence bleeding through again I bet), and motor oil. The car’s getting pretty packed now. Even Anthony’s token complaint as Saul loads cartons of kero into the back seat: “I just got shot sitting in a back seat!” is pretty much ignored as he is loading more stuff in too, sim cards and mobile phones.
Finally full, with a load about two thirds food and one third other stuff, the characters decide to head back to Isobella’s to unload first, because a chance remark from Belinda has made them think of another store they should rob… I mean visit – the gun store.
8pm, Gun Shop in Red Hill
Having unloaded the groceries in Belinda’s house and found the nearest gun shop on the internet (of which they discover there are a surprising number, even though people think of Australia as being gun free), the characters pull up in front of a shop in red hill.
The streets are still deserted and cold. They haven’t encountered any police at all beetling around the suburbs like this. The problem however is that even though the gun shop has glass windows behind the panes the whole shop seems to be with a built in iron bar cage.
I can’t remember if Donald just looked at the locks or had a go a picking them, but either way it doesn’t look feasible to jimmy these with his level of knowledge and tools.
The characters decide to ram raid the store. Of course the car they got lent is too nice to ruin so they decide to steal one from a nearby street. Donald and Belinda go walkabout while Saul (re:Evan) and Anthony remain with the good car.
There are less cars parked along the streets than normal, until they get into a residential street. There things are still quiet, but of course some people park on the curb instead of garaging their cars. Belinda and Donald each find a car on the same street. They don’t mess around, smashing the windows in with rocks and ripping stuff out trying to hotwire their choices.
Belinda gets hers going just as Donald’s chosen car starts alarming. A big burly fellow waving a cricket bat comes charging out of the adjacent house and down the front steps: “Hey what are you doing!” He takes a swipe at Donald just as Belinda roars past. I think Donald actually misses the leap to get into her car on the move but she reverses and waves an uzi in the bat wielding dude’s face
Belinda: “Best if you go back inside now.”
Man (hands in the air): “Woah woah woah. I’m going I’m going. World’s gone mad!”
Belinda (smiling brightly, keeping her uzi lined up on him): “Sure has!”
Back at the shop they lined up their stolen car. The first ram broke out the glass and gave the iron bars a solid nudge, setting off the store’s siren alarm. The second ram cracked the cage door, jamming it partway open. Backing out and linning up again the stolen car must have spun on some glass or something because it ended up wrapping itself the pillar instead. The characters left it there and squeezed into the store around it.
“Four minutes!” Anthony calls as people spread out inside. There are guns in racks, displays of cammo gear and hunting accessories, knives under the glass counter, but no ammunition. Donald spots that the door into the backroom behind the counter looks pretty heavy duty and sets to work trying to jimmy the lock.
Meanwhile Belinda has narrowed in on hunting rifles, taking an arm load of 223s and 308s out to the car (the good car), as well as scopes to fit. Saul (in Evan’s body) grabs some bags, backpacks, shot guns, camouflage clothing, and night vision goggles, etc, as well as a sweet looking compound bow on display. Anthony breaks open the display counter and pulls out some sports pistols as well as a bunch of ‘combat’ and hunting knives, and times ticking away.
Donald gets the backroom door open, and yes there are many cartons of ammunition back there. The characters rush in with bags open. Early attempts to find and match amunition caliber to the guns they’ve taken fall quickly fall by the wayside in favour of the sweep all the cartons off the shelf into the bags method. They escape with three or four large bags of ammunition cartons, having taken somewhat more than five minutes to rob the place, but also having made out like bandits in the process.
Here we leave the session.
The Tree has grown 17/30th the way to domain level 3. It has 9 raw essence and 37 essence worth of soul fragments.
Saul is still sleeping off his last rampage, his depleted human will recovering slowly.
Thanks for reading :)