Kapre Aswang

Session 26
Ferals!

Mid Afternoon, Day Seven

It’s very humid. Storm clouds build out to sea. The Black Sun burns bright. The Red Moon has descended about ten degrees down from overhead. It’s waxing from half towards gibbous as its night line retreats and the red storm on its surface spins into view.


Ferals!

Saul and Anthony have been hunting gangrel south of the river from Indooroopilly. The once wealthy suburbs here are half flooded. With the bright sunlight hindering them somewhat because of their taint, the pair have been driving down each side street looking for signs of the park and amphitheater style nest of debris that Saul saw in an earlier vision. They each have Spirit Sight up. Anthony, buffered by the aura available in his Seed of Life, is at Release Level Two. Saul, maintaining Mind’s Reach, is at Release One.

In Corinda they’re surprised by a pack of ferals charging out from the grounds of a school. This location is actually a very good candidate for the gangrel nest. The street dead ends ahead, but Saul knows that Oxley creek runs behind the school with riparian bikeways and council parks.

Saul sees the incoming feral at the last moment. He brings up his shotgun, pointing across Anthony at the oncoming madman.

Saul: “Hey! Fuck off!”

The feral shows no sign of human intelligence, just slavering bloodlust as it slams into the car. The driver side window breaks. It reaches for Anthony with protean clawed hands. It smells of corrupted desert spice and its eyes are dilated. Spirit Sight shows a wild grey energy surging within.

It’s dead, but not a zombie, and there are more, many more, wild human figures racing out from the school grounds behind it.

Saul lets the reaching feral have one barrel from his ten gauge sawn off. The blast deafens Anthony and blows the feral’s chest and neck apart, dropping it instantly. Shot rips into the charging crowd behind it, doing damage without producing any signs of pain or slowing or taking cover. These are definitely not the figures Saul saw attacking the bridge in his vision the other day.

As Saul manifests an aura’s worth of Infiltrating Roots into the bodywork of their BMW Anthony leaps up onto his seat. Standing half out through the sunroof he unlimbers his brushhook, ready for the next of the oncoming feral charge.

Note, yes I did fuck up the timing on this first round. The perception at the end of last session, which saw them surprised, should have should have formed their initiative for the first round this week… oh well.

Belinda is at the Tree, on her beach, the sand of which is actually purple, being made from grain sized amethyst crystals. She hears the commotion via Mind’s Reach and looks through Anthony’s eyes to see the charging ferals. She gets up.

Because she’s at the Tree Belinda is at Release Level Five. She manifests five aura’s worth of Petal Fall Hair, immediately investing one point into Celerity and another to activate Spirit Sight. Then she uses Spirit Step, with Enhanced Intellect, to begin opening her way to Earth.

The ferals hit the car. Anthony swings his brush hook into the first of them. The brush hook gives him reach advantage, but the feral doesn’t even try to dodge. Anthony carves a wound in it which would kill an ordinary human, but the twisted, stinking creature ignores it as it reaches up for him.

Anthony staves off its grasp with the haft of his weapon. The next few ferals clamber up over each other to get at him. Their claws dig into the side and roof of the car but they don’t quite manage to reach far enough for Anthony to have to shove them away himself.

More of the ferals flow around the car, both in front and behind, seeking a way up or in. Even more are charging out from within the school grounds, leaping the waist high fence, running in a crouch, or on all fours. There’s more than twenty already in sight and Saul thinks there might be a few more still thrashing through the shrubbery behind.

Saul: “Alright, what are we doing?”

Anthony: “We’re in a car… with guns…”

Saul: “This might use a lot of ammunition.”

Anthony swings down hard into one of the ferals clambering up toward him, carving a wound into its head but not quite killing it.

Note I should have penalised this attack as being halfway through the sunroof he wouldn’t have been able to make enough space to attack the closest feral comfortably with his long weapon. Next time.

Anthony drops back down through the sunroof into the driver’s seat. He jams the BMW into reverse. With a sickening thud he accelerates. The suv lifts as the wheels go over at least one feral, another clings to the passenger side of the vehicle, while a third claws its way up over the back.

Belinda manifests another five aura into Petal Fall Hair and Spirit Steps again. She’s now approaching Earth’s gauntlet. Having left the Tree her Release Level drops to Three, supported by her manifestation alone.

As the street blurs past, Saul looks from the feral clawing toward the sunroof to the one clinging just outside his window, to the pack charging up the road after them. He angles his shotgun into the feral on the side. BOOM. Glass and flesh flying it falls away, damaged beyond the point that the energy within can sustain.

Saul: “Fuck yeah! Those army boy’s shoot skills have made a real difference!”

He manifests some more Roots, reaching Release Level Three and Enhancing his Wits. Saul tries to Entangle the feral clambering over the back of the suv. He fails. There is only enough material in the BMW to hold two aura worth of Infiltrating Roots so the excess manifestation goes down into the road beneath.

It is left behind as Anthony keeps reversing and the ferals keep charging. They’re surprisingly fast. The three currently in the lead manage to catch up, clambering up over the bonnet of the moving bmw. One of those manages a blow on the windscreen which fractures, but doesn’t break it. The other two are less securely on. As Anthony forgoes a main action to keep his foot on the accelerator, they fall into the crowd. The BMW reverses further down the middle of the street.

Saul manifests two more aura as Infiltrating Roots. This time he successfully Entangles the feral crawling toward the sunroof, binding it to the car. Breaching open his shotgun and loading in two more shells Saul takes stock (well that’s a maneuver he could have used).

Although similar, the grey energy animating the ferals is not the unlife of zombies. In the Occult knowledge Saul has Absorbed are a triat of underlying concepts: Stasis, Entropy, and Change. For some reason the ferals seem more of the Wyld to Saul, rather than being creatures of the Wyrm like zombies.

Belinda manifests three more aura worth of Petal Fall Hair and steps through the gauntlet. She emerges atop the moving car. Managing to keep her footing she glances down. The feral near her feet is Entangled so she fires a short burst from her uzi into the feral perched on the bonnet. Celerity buffering her penalty for successive actions.

Gore splatters. The body of the feral on the bonnet jerks. It rolls off and is trampled by the pack racing close behind. Belinda jumps down through the sunroof into the car. The feral on the back struggles to break free of the entanglement, but the final stubborn point of aura invested keeps it tethered, unable to lunge after her.

The new leader among the running ferals manages to leap up onto the car. Crouching on the blood smeared bonnet it smashes through the wind shield as one or two others manage to get their claws on the BMW but not quite up onto it.

There’s a sharp left bend coming up behind them now where the road goes around in front of the school grounds. Anthony eyes it with one hand on the wheel as he accelerates backwards, leaving the pack behind again.

Shattered glass in his lap, Saul puts his shotgun into the face of the feral coming through the windscreen. He pulls the trigger. Huge gibbets of flesh are blasted away, bone is exposed, but where a human would die, or at least fall crippled, the feral is still going strong. Saul manifests more Infiltrating Roots and Entangles it to the bonnet.

Clicking her uzi to single shot Belinda leans forward between the front seat. Her shot takes the feral clean. It collapses, unable to sustain the parody of life anymore, but lashed to the bonnet still by Saul’s Entanglement.

Anthony slows for a second, letting the ferals get a bit nearer as he lines up for the curve. There’s about twenty or so ferals still, just meters behind the car. They charge, mindless and tireless, wearing ragged clothes streaked with mud.

Saul: “So what are we doing?”

Anthony: “It’s too far to indro.” {thinking of hazards ahead like water and the rail bridge}

Saul fires both barrels into the crowd. Lead rips through the ferals. The first one goes down hard, a couple of those behind it stagger and fall, others take the shot and keep on coming. He manifests some more Roots which infiltrate down into the road and are left behind.

The feral on the back is struggling to break free of Saul’s first Entanglement. Belinda stands up through the sun roof and unloads a short burst into it, destroying it. She’s at twenty one Malevolence over six Will, the highest she’s ever been. Anthony is forty two over nine. Saul is Intense.

Anthony manifests some Imbued Strength as he keeps driving backwards. That cornor is getting close and he’s going to have to take it at some speed to stay ahead of the pack.

Saul reloads and blasts again with his shotgun. A few more of their pursuers go down. He manifests a few more aura worth of Roots, which go down into the road. There are now several small patches of Infiltration behind them.

Still standing through the sunroof Belinda slings her uzi and switches to her pump action shotgun. Her first blast takes down the feral she aimed at. The ones running behind it take a scattering of lead, with another feral falling to the side.

Anthony takes the corner confidently, going in wide with a firm grip he swings it around, still in reverse, maintaining enough speed to stay ahead of the pack. A second right angle corner looms ahead as the pack charges over the footpath behind.

Seated facing backwards Saul blasts again through the space where the windscreen used to be. He takes down the new lead feral and several others from the mindlessly charging pack. Calmly Saul breaks open his shotgun and loads in two more shells.

Belinda swaps back to her uzi. Changing clips she sweeps a long burst over the dwindling pack. More ferals fall. Their bullet riddled bodies litter the road behind.

Unfortunately my recording fails here.

But I seem to remember that Anthony made the next corner. Belinda and Saul kept blasting away. To the end the ferals kept mindlessly charging forward in pursuit of the ‘humans’ in the car.

When gunfire had reduced their numbers enough Anthony threw the BMW into drive and rammed forward through the crowd, crushing a couple of ferals beneath the vehicle. There may have been a round or two of brutal melee. The Awakened ended their attackers without much threat to themselves.

Faced with a street of scattered carnage the Awakened fell to Devouring the fallen. The afternoon storm breaks overhead. Rain sheets down around them as the torn screams of the ferals’ souls fill the neighborhood.

Anthony took the lead in Devouring. Saul and Belinda took it in turns to stand guard and support Anthony. In this way Saul still used up all of the Infiltrating Roots he manifest along the road, leaving only two aura worth of Roots in the (trashed) BMW.

The weren’t interrupted during the half hour or so it took to Devour all the fallen. At the beginning they heard some restless barks from within the school itself, but these fell silent some time after the screaming started.

The souls of the ferals were tattered, like those of zombies. However, unlike zombies that the Awakened have encountered so far, the ferals’ Wits, Dexterity, Strength, and Stamina seem to have been reinforced with some of the fragments torn from their other mental and emotional traits. Only a limited selection of skills were left, mostly focused on the physical aspects of hunting and survival, with just the odd wisp of knowledge here an there from whatever the victims were in their past lives.

Each feral yielded only six essence worth of fragments. Importantly though each yielded a fragment with one Protean exp. This seems to be derived from the wyld force animating them, not a disipline so much as a permanent mutation. Because the Tree is in the process of Adapting Protean into itself these fragments were immediately sacrificed. They were enough to complete the process. The Tree has adapted into a more shape shifting form and the Awakened can now learn Protean as an innate part of their aspect rather than a discipline acquired by their vessel. The few remaining fragments of protean turned to essence as they hit the Tree.

I forgot to mention this but the fragments show some signs of life. They go wriggling into the Domain’s reserve. Because of the sheer number of ferals which attacked there are quite a few fragments in the Domain’s reserve now, although raw essence is much depleted.

Surrounded by corpses, with the storm pouring down over them, we leave our characters for another week. It’s about three hours until nightfall. The school lies in front of them. Will they push on or head back? Their Temptation states are quite high…

Thanks for reading



Anthony:

Ecstatic Abandon at Release Level Five
Uninjured and very slightly Fatigued.
54 Malevolence with 15 aura nearby:

1 Petal Fall Hair
6 Imbued Strength
1 Celerity
3 Potence
1 Spirit Sight
3 Seed of Life.

Very High Instability:

Human taint level 4 (mind whispers, -1 perception).
Lycanthropic taint level 3 (rage issues, silver burns).
Zombie taint level 3 (-1 perception and move in sunlight).
Vampiric taint level 1 (sun seems bright).


Belinda:

Rash at Release Level Two
Injured and a little Fatigued.
11 Malevolence with 5 aura nearby:

3 Petal Fall Hair
1 Celerity
1 Spirit Sight

Moderate Instability

Human taint level 3 (an excuse for erratic behaviour).
Lycanthropic taint level 2 (silver burns).
Animal taint level 1 (scents smell brighter).


Saul:

Flow State at Release Level Two
Scuffed and a little Fatigued.
21 Malevolence with 4 aura nearby:

2 Infiltrating Roots (in the bmw)
1 Spirit Sight
1 Mind’s Reach

High Instability:

Human taint level 4 (mind whispers, -1 perception).
Vampiric taint level 2 (sun deals a bashing per scene).
Zombie taint level 2 (sooo hungry).



The Tree:

Growth:

Stage Five.
0 / 60th toward next stage.

Realisation:

15m Tall.
Air and Space fifteen meter radius (15 points worth).
Expanse of Dark Water (15 points worth).
Beach of Amethyst Sand (15 points worth).

Adaptation:

Celerity complete (quickened interplay of branches).
Protean complete (twisting shapes in the bark)

Reserve:

8 Tree Aura
39 Essence
1 Primal Essence of blood and entropy (vamperic)
7 Primal Essence of fishyness (bound spirits)
237 essence worth of Soul Fragments

Expected Sources:

Belinda’s household: ~10 essence (solid, familial).
Samaritan colony: ~40 essence (awestruck neighbours).
Indro colony: ~ 45 essence (renowned, larger pop).
Enoggera Barracks: ~45 essence (indebted subgroup).
Misc: 0 to 5 (various outliers and mavericks).



View
Session 25
Armed Negotiations

Ten Minutes into Day Seven

It is dark and cold. The Red Moon has climbed two thirds of the way up into the sky, and waned until only a thin crescent of its day side can be seen.


Realising

Belinda has Spirit Stepped to the Tree. Upset about getting her feet wet in the expanse of dark water she calls upon the Tree to Realise a place to stand. Consuming fifteen points of Essence from the bountiful reserve she causes fifteen cubic meters of pristine white {or purple?} sand to come into existence, creating a beach that fills one half of the fifteen meter diameter space around the Tree.

The roots remain beneath the sand, but the dark water is displace. It flows to the other side of the small space, doubling in depth. This means that the Tree, which is fifteen meters tall, now grows on boundry between land and water.

Belinda comes to the understanding that the sand, the water, the very air and wood of the Tree itself, all of the matter currently within this space is magical material, created as it is from spiritual essence. The grade of the materials is currently low, but she senses that with time, perhaps decades or even centuries, the quintessence within them might flow and concentrate to naturally form deposits of higher grade materials.


Theorising

Back in Bardon, while Anthony heals Saul’s remaining injuries, he ponders if they could Graft Regeneration into Curtis and Quentin and then take them to the Tree to allow them to regrow their missing limbs.

The problem is with what they would use to fuel the power once it was grafted in:

Grafting Devour + Giving them a Seed of Life – would return Essence from the Seed into the Tree.

Grafting Draw Essence + a Manifestation power – would allow the follower to draw freely, which is a little uncontrolled for Anthony’s tastes, only a little better than just grafting Assimilate or Absorb into them.

Bestow seems to give followers a reservoir they can draw from. Anthony has the realisation that Quentin probably consumed the point of Aura in his Mark unconsciously using his ghoul power to reverse his aging. This seems like a much more controllable method, as the Awakened can decide when (and if) they refill a mark. Anthony thinks they could (probably) replenish a Mark via a clear enough Cries of the World glimpse.

He and Saul also have the realisation that if they were to take Curtis to the Tree anyway then they could directly use Realisation to create new limbs. These new limbs would not be genuine human flesh, they’d be a living, low grade magical material and might end up with wood traits, so it would be a bit of an experiment all around.


Tea and Blood with Isobella

Anthony and Saul decide to have a chat with Isobella. She’s downstairs, of course, studying away in her room. Quentin is cleaning his gun while standing guard. Liam is acting as her assistant. All three of them seem delighted to talk with the Awakened. Curtis is… somewhere else.

Saul: “You still want that blood?”

Isobella: {delighted} “Oh. Yes!”

She sets Liam to sterilising a silver knife and bowl, indicating she hasn’t been biting or giving blood to her ghouls for fear of infection.

Anthony: “How is Curtis?”

Isobella: “He’s alright. A little affected, it’s hard to be injured when things are happening.”

Anthony: “We were considering alternatives for him…”

Isobella: {eager} “Do you have something?”

Anthony: “I have something I would like to try. There is a risk he may die, which is low. The risk of nothing happening is moderate, while the risk of a change to his physicality… We have some intrinsic powers similar to wood crafting for… prosthetics.”

Isobella is very interested, mentioning that if the injury had happened before the apocalypse she would have gone to the Silver Lodge to trade for regrowth or prosthetics. She asks about what would be involved.

Anthony: “We have to take him away.”

Isobella: “Oh. Where, may I ask?”

Anthony: “Somewhere… secret.”

Isobella: “Oh. Well could I come with you? There are limits to magic enabled by the Blood, but I do like to observe other Traditions.”

Anthony: “There won’t be anything to observe. You’d run the risk of being obliterated without a trace just to see him lying on a beach.”

Isobella: “Oh… so that small risk is quite dire in consequence?”

Anthony: “Yes.”

Isobella: “Hmm. Well I will put the offer to him. I won’t take such a trip myself, a long life allows time for small but severe risks to pay off.”

Anthony: “It is a small chance, would require critical failure across multiple resources.”

Liam comes over to Saul with the knife, bowl, and a handkerchief, asking if Saul would like him to do the honours. The risk of someone doing him damage raises the Exhilarated Saul’s hackles a little bit, but he manages not to see Liam as a threat as the ritualist assistant makes an expert cut into Saul’s wrist.

A point worth of blood flows out into the bowl, causing one Lethal wound.

Isobella: {suddenly, with eyes gleaming silver} “Wait! Wait!”

Liam clamps off Saul’s wound. Isobella inspects the blood in the bowl closely, her eyes gleaming silver again.

Isobella: “This isn’t as potent as I thought it would be.” {she thinks for a moment before turning to Anthony} “Could I try some from you?”

Anthony assents. His Release Level is up because of the point of Aura in the Seed of Life he’s carrying.

Liam: “I’ll prepare another bowl.”

Liam places aside Saul’s blood. He gets out another bowl and begins the process of washing and sterilising the knife again. Expertly he bleeds a wound’s worth of blood from Anthony which Isobella inspects.

Isobella: “Oh yes, this is definitely stronger. I think this relates to the way your apparent strengths seem to go up and down. This effect you produce to heal… how far can you push it?”

Saul: “Come with us to the city and find out.”

Isobella: “I’m risk adverse I’m afraid.”

Anthony manifests some Petal Fall aura to push up to Release Level Five.

Anthony: “This is as high as I’m willing to stretch myself in the current environment.”

Again Liam takes some blood. Raising Spirit Sight Anthony can see that the blood is more potent, a higher grade of magical material if you will. With eyes flashing silver again Isobella inspects the blood. She takes a small sip.

Isobella: “Oh yes. This is much better. Can you hold this state? The blood coming out of you now is like that of a powerful vampire, while that which came out of Saul earlier is almost human.”

Liam drains several more wounds worth of blood from Anthony while the Awakened heals the damage caused. Soon they have a few brimming bowls and a delighted vampire.

Note I fucked up in game using an old version of the innate vampire ‘drink blood’ power which potentially creates a mana-engine. Raising Release Level should raise apparent grade of the blood as indicated here, not the number of blood points per wound as I indicated in the session. Apologies.

Isobella daintily drinks her fill. There is still quite a lot of blood left.

Isobella: “May I work on my blood stones tonight? Or is the need for wards more urgent?”

Anthony: “Wards. The army could be here tomorrow, given those drones.”

They ask her about her own preperations. Isobella discloses she’s had her ghouls dig a concealed hole under the closet in her basement room for sleeping during the day. She’s written wards over hole, the closet, and her room to divert human notice and deny entry.

Isobella: “We did think of relocating as you suggested. If the army searches abandoned houses however… It’s better to make use of the preparations we’ve already made.”

Saul and Anthony request that she lay further wards around the basement where they store their weapons, and around the Light Armoured Vehicle across the street. Saul asks if her wards can deter drones but Isobella indicates that those she could lay in one night are limited to deterring humans. She mentions that, in the past, for more powerful rituals she would have had to trade with the Silver Lodge to purchase quintessent reagents of higher grade than her own blood, or that sometimes the Prince would donate some of his blood.

Isobella: “A matter of great trust.”

She’s not sure if the Awakened’s blood will be stable, indicating she’ll use her own blood as material for the wards and drink theirs to replenish her loses.

Anthony heals his wounds and replenishes his Seed of Life with two points of the remaining Petal Fall manifestation. Because the aura in the Seed remains to keep his Release Level at Three he is then able to Circulate most of his remaining Petal Fall manifestation into the Tree. The first points of green Aura flow into the reserve to mingle with clear essence, soul fragments, and darker lumps of primal force.

Isobella offers Saul a chance to observe with Liam when she sets the wards.

Isobella: “My Tradition is different from Abyssal Mysticism, more Hermetic, but you may learn something.”

Saul: {to Anthony} “We doing anything in the morning?”

Anthony: “Worrying about the Army, possibly hunting gangers or gangrel…”

Saul: {to Isobella} “Sorry, I might have to get some rest.”

Isobella: “Of course. Any time you wish, or if you encounter difficulties in your practice you can talk to me.”


Heading to Bed

Saul reloads before sleep, pocketing ten more shotgun shells for his sawn off, refilling the magazine on his handgun and looking for more ammo for the army issue assault rifle. There’s none in the house so he slips over to the LAV. There is still some gear in the troop compartment. He hauls it into the house, finding the small arms ammo he needs plus some spare clothing, bedding, camping supplies and rations, all of which he unpacks. There are no grenade rounds however, the lieutenant must have been hogging those.

Then they sleep, refreshing some of their Will and healing remaining bruises and fatigue.


Morning – Day 7

After a good rest dawn breaks, cloudy with rain looming. It makes the Awakened realise again how dead the plants beyond the immediate environs of their house are.

Saul and Anthony inspect the barricades, finding that folk from the colony are already at work reinforcing the damaged fence and blasted cars.

One of their neighbours, a tatooed looking dude, aproaches.

Dude: “We, ah, put those bikes in front of your house, but, ah… Could I have ’em?”

Saul: “What would you do with them?”

Dude: “Think I could do ‘em up, get maybe one or two working using pieces from the others. Then… we’d have ’em? Just something to do really, keep my mind off things.”

Saul: “Sure, do your best. Just try to keep them out of sight so they don’t attract attention.”

The dude’s a bit wide eyed about the implications of that, but seems happy enough, scurrying away to get started.


Contacting Lisa

With the Black Sun about an hour into the sky Saul raises Mind’s Reach, adding Lisa to the gestalt easily because of her Mark.

Saul: Morning Lisa.

He has a look through her eyes, seeing that she’s in a cafetera queue with a tray full of food.

Lisa: “Oh!” then I’ll just…

Saul: It’s ok, remember you don’t have to vocalise.

Lisa finds somewhere to sit and leans over her food to eat while she thinks at the Awakened.

Lisa: Spent the night in Ashgrove, got marched in at daylight. There’s a lot of people here. I got assigned a tent in a football field of tents. There’s four other people in my tent.

When the Awakened ask how hard it was to get in.

Lisa: They asked a lot of questions, especially about contact with sick people or people who’ve been bitten. They took my weapons! Left a few in my room, if I come back I’ll need them. They seem pretty keen for me to join the militia.

When Saul asks if the army is searching for any specific supernatural groups.

Lisa: Got the impression they know about leeches, but not wolves. I wasn’t gonna tell them!

Saul: Did they search you?

Lisa: Not as badly as you thought they would! Did a medical in my undies. The tattoo passed, they were mostly making certain I hadn’t been bitten, no infected wounds.

Anthony: Anyone fail?

Lisa: Not that I saw, there were only a few other stragglers at Ashgrove last night.

They ask her about the drones but she doesn’t know. She says she’s heard they’ve been doing a lot of searching.

Lisa: Securing servos and supermarkets, finding survivors and gathering them in. Got told they’ve done the north and the east and that the south is next.

They encourage her to join the militia.

Anthony: More opportunity to move around.

Saul asks her about the hierarchy.

Lisa: They seem pretty keen on their commander…

Anthony: Can people get out?

Lisa: Dunno. No one’s tried to that I’ve seen. Everyone seems real glad to be in here.

Anthony: Just a warning, we have another one in there, called Amelia.

Lisa: Oh, like me?

Anthony: Err…. Yes {successful subterfuge check}.

Lisa: Oh. Well what’s the warning?

Anthony: She’s a bit… odd, might sneak up on you from behind and give you hugs. If you see anyone muttering to herself… you might want to let her know you can get a message to us.

Saul: Just yell out to us in your mind. Not like you’ll be in danger… {successful subterfuge check).

He instructs her to keep her eyes open for what the army’s plans might be after they’ve secured the area and who they consider a threat.

Saul: But don’t ask too many questions. Probably don’t ask at all. If you hear that they’re headed for Bardon today or anything just cry out to us.

Lisa: I think the search and rescue crews were going out as I came in, strings of a couple trucks with armoured vehicles in front and behind.

They wish her well, ending the contact there with promises to contact her again that night.


Gunfire in the Rain

Over the next couple of hours some gentle rain settles in. About mid morning Saul and Anthony hear gunfire from the direction of the Bardon shops, a few three round bursts then silence.

Anthony: “We should go have a look, could walk up.”

Saul: {vampire taint at level 2} “Kinda still want to stay out of the sun.”

They briefly consider taking the police cruiser or even the LAV and pretending to be army. Anthony dismisses this as unfeasible, while Saul realises they left one police cruiser at Indro when they Spirit Stepped over to deal with the Glasshouse boys.

They go to take Isobella’s suv, but its jammed with loot. Leaving Clara and Stix to unload it they take one of the white four wheel drives they took off those guys at the servo during the long night.

Since Belinda’s still relaxing at the beach Anthony, with just a little trepidation, slips in behind the wheel. He takes them out, and (somehow) finds a street from which they can view the shops without being obvious themselves.

There is a convoy parked in the middle of Bardon’s main street. It has a Light Armoured Vehicle in the lead, chain cannon ready, then a troop truck, then another troop truck, and finally a GWagon mounted with a .50 calibre BMG machine gun. There are gunners manning both the Lav and the Gwagon, while fifteen or so men and women haul cartons from the shops on either side into the trucks.

Some of the people are obviously soldiers. They’re wearing combat gear and carrying assault rifles and seem to know what they’re doing. Others are probably militia. They’re dressed more piecemeal and only a few are holding firearms, the rest carry modified garden tools like shovels, pitchforks, and heavy steel rakes.

Anthony: “Did you reload your grenade launcher?”

Saul: “Maybe we should pull back, out of sight.”

Anthony puts the four wheel drive in reverse. The back up until houses are between them and the oblivous army salvage crew.

Saul: “Do we want to hit them? They’d call for help and I doubt we could take care of them quickly enough to stop that. It’d bring a lot more of them down on us…”

Anthony: “Well, if they keep this up they’ll be at our street this afternoon. Tomorrow at the latest. So how do we approach them?”

Saul: “I don’t know… Anything we can do to slow them down?”

Anthony concentrates for a moment, raising Spirit Sight and trying to feel out their surroundings. He gets prickling sense of zombies nearby but nothing intense or specific. Saul tries too, but he’s hindered by the whispers of his human taint on the edge of his mind. He can’t feel any major clusters, but gets the feeling there might be the odd zombie out there, sheltering from the sun under houses, maybe inside shops?

Anthony: “Well, don’t think we’ll be able to overpower them. Not with four separate vehicles.”

Saul: “No, not before they ask for help.”

Anthony: “So do we go back to our street and wait for them to turn up? Or surender ourselves now saying ‘oh thank you’!”

Saul: “We could just approach and see what happens… or we could Spirit Step into their compound now and try and take over…. but I doubt that would go well.”

Anthony: {Shakes his head}.

They discuss back and forth a bit, considering how much time jamming their radios somehow would buy (not much), and how many of the people in their street would leave if the army came (lots).

Anthony: “If we approach this group we can say we heard gunfire and would like to be left alone. See if we can arrange a meeting with their captain or lieutent… Shall we go over the hill?”

Saul: “Carefully and peacefully.”


Negotiations under Flag of Truce

Saul rips a bit of fabric and ties it to make a white flag. Anthony manifests two aura worth of Petal Fall Hair, pulling his hoody up and his hat down to disguise the transformation. Combined with the effect of his Seed of Life this puts him at Release Level Three. Saul brings up Mind’s Reach and manifests two points of Infiltrating Roots into the four wheel drive (all the vehicle can hold) to bring himself up to Release Level Two, enhancing Manipulation with the consequent bonus.

They drive slowly down, flag held high out the window.

All of the salvage crew stop to look. From his gestures, one of them seems to tell most of the others to get back to work. Ten or so of them do so while four of the soldiers fall in around him. He walks toward the Anthony and Saul, holding his hand up for them to halt. The gunners in Gwagon and Lav seem alert, bringing their weapons around near to, but not lined up on, the four wheel drive as Anthony rolls to a stop.

Anthony: {out the window} “Which group are you with?”

Army dude: “I’m Lieutenant Lionel Fullerton with the CBF. Have you heard of us?”

Anthony: “Oh! You’re the Can’t Be Fucked guys from over Enoggera way!”

Lieutenant Lionel: “Err…. Well we don’t like to say it like that, but are you looking for refuge?”

Anthony: “Not so much. We’ve got a bit of a commune over the way {vague wave} and we don’t want to be disturbed. Heard the gun fire and came out to investigate.”

Lieutenant Lionel: “When you say commune… how many people?”

Anthony: “Oh twenty or so, just a few families.”

Lieutenant Lionel: {nodding} “You don’t have to worry about the gun shots, it was just an Infected. Do you know them?”

Anthony: “We’ve seen them.”

Lieutenant Lionel: “Well they’re better off being put down.”

He asks if Anthony and Saul speak for their whole group and is assured they do. That they’ve already run into other soldiers from the CBF and that they just want to be left alone.

Lieutenant Lionel: {squinting into the car} “Well I must say that’s pretty strange. You’re the first group that hasn’t been looking for somewhere safer… May I ask why you’re so confident?”

Anthony: “Just well organised.”

Saul: “Already had some run ins with zombies and shit. If we stick together we’ll be alright.”

Lionel: “You know they come in big packs? We’ve found larger groups of survivors before, found one lot in a Bunnings. They did alright the first couple of days but when we got to them they were totally surrounded. Once the zombies are onto you its like they swarm or something. One attracts two, two bring four. Before you know it you’ve got a whole crowd outside your gates… You do have… You are inside or something arn’t ya?”

Anthony: “Yeah.” {nodding like that should be self evident}.

Lionel asks if they have a radio, which the fourwheel drive does. He suggests they turn to channel [blah] (not the Fire Lord guys’ channel).

Lionel: “We got people listening to that. You get in any trouble, just give us a call.”

He pauses for a second as if thinking.

Lionel: “You right for food? You weren’t relying on these stores or anything right? We got a lot of mouths to feed.”

Anthony: “Yeah, we heard from Andy” {the guard they met on waterworks road a couple nights ago}.

Lionel: {no sign recognition} “If you run out you can always come in. You look pretty competent.”

Saul: “We’re doing alright.”

Lionel takes a closer look at them. Saul is carrying his shotgun, with the austyr stowed out of sight. Lionel still doesn’t seem to see Anthony’s Petal Fall Hair, too impressed by the uzi and body armour I guess.

Lionel: “We could use competent people like you. A lot of the people we’re rescuing… They’re not doing well. We need people like you, need to get the ratio up of active to passive people. Supplies are only going to get tighter.”

The Awakened once again demure.

Saul: “So what’s your plan? How far out you going to go?”

Lionel: “Well… we dunno. Look that night the sun didn’t come up, that was a mess. Politicians, the higher ups in the army, they were the first to be infected. Dunno what went on but heard there was a lot of violence, maybe some units opening fire on each other in the confusion. But the Colonel… He pulled us together. Said we focus on forting up. Said no contact from the others, Canberra gone, Sydney an anarchhic hell hole, that tidal wave smashed the shit out of everything. So we’re local. We do search and rescue and we expand out. There’s some problems with the city… I don’t relly know what, haven’t been there myself, but we’re not to go too close. We’re just to systematically strip the surrounding suburbs, bring in all the people… work something out from there. We been working pretty hard, fences as good as we can get. Gunna be the best bet you got in Brisbane I reckon, unless Amberly forted up.”

He looks almost purged after such a rush of confidences, eager to convince them to join.

Anthony: “How are you dealing with zombies? You must have thousands walking in.”

Lionel: {suddenly deadpan} “We shoot ’em.” {a moment} “And we don’t take sick people. At all.” {another moment, another look} “You got any sick people?”

Both Anthony and Saul assure him they don’t.

Saul: “What do you do with the bodies?”

Lionel: {shrugs, points his chin towards the shops} “Leave em. Don’t have time to bury them. If they’re near base we burn ‘em, but we’ve only got so many hazmat suits. I don’t want to handle those bastards.”

He makes another push to recruit them.

Lionel: “It’s a new world my friends. If you bring all your people to us, people like you who can get your hands on shit like that. I don’t know where we’re going to go eventually, but you’ll definitely do well with us.”

Anthony and Saul demure again. Lionel asks for the location of their colony.

Lionel: “It’s just if you guys are gonna be a bit touchy… Well… We’ll want to know where you are.”

Anthony: “It’s not that were touchy or anything but… Have you done a lap around Kelvin Grove lately?”

Lionel: {perks up} “No, that’s beyond my search perimeter. What’s out there?”

Anthony: “Loonies. Ran into a bunch of guys looting shops up there and they were pull guns first and think second.”

Lionel: “Oh yeah, we’ve met people like that. Ended up taking some in.”

Anthony: “Yeah well, there’s a reason we came out in the car.”

Lionel: “Yeah… We’re not like that.” {bit of a rabid look} “We got some discipline. Things were crazy but the Commander welded us together again.”

Saul: “Have you seen him?”

Lionel: “Oh yeah, I’ve seen him, but there’s a few hundred of us soldiers, more active militia… It’s not like I have lunch with him every day or anything.”

Anthony: “He’s a Colonel isn’t he?”

Lionel: “I… don’t really know. First thing he did was remove all our old ranks and give us new ones.”

This seems likely to be true. Saul and Anthony have noticed that all the soldiers have had badges of rank stripped from their uniforms. Two of the vehicles have insignia as if they came from different bases originally. Lionel however seems to have opened up for another rant. Slightly red faced he continues.

Lionel: “Weirdest thing that infection picked out the highest ranks first.”

He tells them a story about how, when the long night fell he’d been assigned to guard some political do in the city. How his unit had to try and escort them out in the chaos.

Lionel: {wild eyed now} “They turned on the bus… It was a fucking slaughter house!”

Saul: {laughs Malevolently} “Sounds pretty good to me… A chance to shoot up some polititians.”

Lionel: {Laughs with him, then stops shamefaced} “Yeah! Well… When you see them eating each other its not as fun as it sounds.”

Saul still looks like he thinks it might be fun. Anthony gives Lionel directions to the colony, which are accurate to within a couple of streets. It’s sounding like he’s ready to end the conversation.

Lionel: {distracted by Anthony} “Oh well, you would have been seeing us this afternoon then. About twenty people you say? Just give us a call if you get any problems, crowds of zombies, people driving around shooting shit up, whatever… just give us a ring.” {points at the LAV with another evil chuckle} “I don’t think anyone’s gonna fuck with us!”

They start to say their goodbyes. Lionel makes one last push to recruit them.

Lionel: “You want to come in then you just come in. We’re not crazy… Honest. We’re sane!”

Saul: “So you’ll be alright with us just doing our own thing?”

Lionel: “I’ll be straight up with you. I’m just gonna report it to my higher ups. They’ll work it out. You’re the first to refuse rescue, but we’re not a prison, not gonna take you in if you don’t want to be rescued.” {again the chuckle} “Fuck, I mean we’re shooting sick people that are desperate to come in so…”

Anthony: “Sounds like a fair deal. Let’s just make an arangement. We’re not going to shoot first or anything, but if you want to come into our part of the world, just give us a call first. That way if we hear gunshots, we won’t come out to take a look.”

Lionel: “Sure. Well, we are working in the area today. Got a couple more shops to clear and houses to visit. I think you were on my list, one of the more promising groups actually. You sure you don’t want to come in?”

Saul: “If that offer of food and supplies still stands we wouldn’t say no.”

Lionel: {considers for a second} “What I’ll do, I’ll slip you some boxes from here, but when I report to my bosses they’ll sort out what they want in the longer term. You’ll probably have to come in, help us search places, you know, if you want more supplies.”

Saul: “Sure, just as a one off is appreciated.”

Lionel has his lads slip the Awakened ten cartons of food and drink from the stuff they’re salvaging, filling the back of the four wheel drive. The Awakened take their leave.

The issue of what to do about the army seems put off for another day. The Samaritans remaining ignorant of their potential salvation.


Deciding to go Hunting

Anthony and Saul drive a few streets away and pull up. It’s not even noon yet. On vampire taint two Saul is suffering a bit from the sun, but the tinted windows and covering himself with a blanket are allowing him to get by. They decide to hunt gangrel.

Saul raises Domain Dreaming and from the Tree (in spirit) uses Cries of the World to glimpse the manifestation of Infiltrating Roots he left across the south side of Indro bridge.

It seems pretty quiet. There’s a zombie stumbling around on the Chelmer side of the river, but it doesn’t seem to hold much threat. The bridge itself is much the same, with bullet riddled barricade of cars across the center, and a more solid barricade on the Indro side. Saul can see a guard moving around on the second story of the Indro gatehouse. He’s got his rifle but seems a bit bored.

Anthony: “Do you remember where all those vampires you glimpsed were congregating?”

Saul: “Ah… not really.”

Saul remembers it was a park with an ampitheatre type nest made from flood debris, with playground equipment twisted into it. He can think of a couple of places where such a park could be, but it was a rich area so he never spent much time there before the fall.

Anthony: “Well we’ve got several hours and nothing better to do…”


Traveling South – If it’s Flooded…

They head south with the Red Moon high over head. Taking the government house route around the Bardon landslip (and army dudes) their Spirit Sense prickles to the feel of the odd zombie, and those wards. When they get down the bottom of the hill they discover that Rainworth road has muddy water over it, which looks like it’s risen from the river all the way up through Rosalie.

The water is quite shallow over the path they want to take. Anthony carefully drives through. They turn south over the ridges of Auchenflower toward Toowong.

The Toowong roundabout is also under water. This is much deeper, coming from Milton and Sylvan roads. Anthony backs up and turns around. They backtrack and turn off to go around the top of Toowong Cemetery, over the foothill of Mount Cootha, which is still spewing black spiritual particulates into the sky.

Halfway around the cemetery they encounter a pack of dogs, snarling at each other and worrying at a body on the road. These are starving pets turned feral who have acquired a taste for human flesh. Saul raises Spirit Sight but there is no sign of vampiric ghouling or the influence of Protean among them. They scatter before the four wheel drive.

Coming down past the botanic gardens they come out on the western side of the flooded roundabout and make their way south over Toowong without incident. Somehow they end up on Moggil road heading toward Taringa.

Note I really messed up here as the streets around Toowong Village should have been flooded too. Perhaps they were on Miskin street instead?

Anyway they encounter water again in the valley between Toowong and Taringa just on the south side of Brisbane Boys College. The trip south has taken significantly longer today, it’s already a couple of hours after noon. Anthony pulls up and the pair look at the murky brown water lapping over the road in front of them.

Saul: {botch} “Just drive into it, she’ll be right.”

Anthony: {also botch} “Sure, why not?”

It turns out the water is quite salty. Salty and cold as it flows over the bonnet, stalls the engine, and floods in through the floor boards. They climb out and splash around in scummy, muddy, estuarine flood waters, using the four wheel drive’s winch to pull it back out.

But it won’t start.

While Anthony pops the hood and pulls of distributor caps etc, drying and shaking and tapping, Saul scopes out cars parked on the roadside, checking to see if any have their keys inside.

Anthony: {after failing to start the vehicle} “Might need to keep the bonnet up for half an hour or so, should evaporate most of the water.”

Saul has been thinking back, trying to remember if the apocalypse happened on a school day. He suggests having a look at the headmaster’s place on the school grounds.

Leaving their vehicle the pair walk up to the administration block. There is a small car park in front with vehicles in it, and crows pecking at a thing that turns out to be a decrepit zombie. It looks like it has been run over. With broken back, and eyeless sockets, it scrabbles feebly at the gravel. It’s wearing quality clothes.

Anthony unlimbers his brushook. The first swing misses, but his second takes the zombie’s head right off. While Saul checks out the cars Anthony devours the zombie’s soul, getting a couple of fragments, including one of Medical knowledge which he Absorbs straight away.

Anthony: “Apparently this was the school nurse!”

Saul finds a BMW X3 suv with keys dropped on the ground beside it.

Saul: “Must have been what that zombie was reaching for.”

Anthony: “We’ve upgraded!”

The pair drive down to the the water’s edge and tranship their supplies from the stranded four wheel drive, which still won’t start. After winching the four wheel drive further up out of waters reach they abandon it, and the two points of Infiltrating Roots within it.

Backtracking they work their way around the water via side streets in their shiny new suv.


Quick Stop at a Pet Shop

As Anthony and Saul drive they consider going back to loot the school.

Anthony: “Probably got a caffeteria.”

Saul: “Nah, fuck it. Those crows weren’t a good sign.”

This turns to a discussion of whether Odin’s crows would be a worse to see pre or post apocalypse and if they could find a squirrel to put in the Tree.

Anthony: “If we see a pet store I want to stop.”

Sure enough there happens to be one on their way which they spot as the come over Taringa.

They pull up and duck inside. It stinks. Nearly all the pets have dead. Anthony finds some surviving gold fish and bags them up, grabbing a tank for them as well.

He tells Saul its for testing the Domain’s environment.

On the way out they spot a turtle that’s alive. They grab that too and get on their way.


The Bridge

There’s no CB radio in the BMW. Someone pokes their head out of the second story gatehouse on the bridge as Anthony slowly drives past the street facing shops of lower Indro. He pulls up in front of the bridge and pokes his head out.

Anthony: “No CB today, had to change cars.”

Guard: “Oh it’s you guys! Fuck you going huntin again?”

They tell him they are and the bridge guards come down to move the key cars out of the barricade so they can pass.

Saul: “Anything happened since yesterday?”

Guard: “Nah, been real quiet. Had some walkers over there, but Ivy said we’re not to shoot at ’em, its a waste.”

They tell the guard they should be a couple of hours. He reminds them to flash their lights when they return. Saul remembers he’s carrying the security guard walkie talkie.

Saul: “Shit sorry, musta had it turned off.”


Searching South of the River

Driving down Honor avenue things have changed quite a bit in the almost forty hours since they were last here. The waters have risen on their left covering Tennyson, the Rocklea markets, and other low-lying lands to the east and south.

Honour avenue itself goes right down the spine of this slight rise that the river bends around. Having decided that the park must be near the water’s edge they work their way slowly south, driving into each side street to check it out then back up to Honor avenue to continue south.

Over the next couple of hours they work their way down through Chelmer, Graceville, and Sherwood. In Corinda they come to a place where a State School seems to have been half submerged by flood waters.

They are surprised when a feral human hurls themself into the side of the car!


There we end it for the week
Thanks for Reading :)



Status

Anthony:

Indulgent at Release Level Two.
1 Malevolence, 3 nearby aura manifest (Seed), 1 invested (Spirit Sight).
Uninjured and very slightly Fatigued.
Very High Instability.

Human taint level 4 (mind whispers, -1 perception).
Lycanthropic taint level 3 (rage issues, silver burns).
Zombie taint level 3 (-1 perception and move in sunlight).
Vampiric taint level 1 (sun seems bright).


Belinda:

Restive at Release Level 5 (at the Tree).
0 Malevolence with 0 Aura manifest or invested nearby.
Injured and a little Fatigued.
Moderate Instability.

Human taint level 3 (an excuse for erratic behaviour).
Lycanthropic taint level 2 (silver burns).
Animal taint level 1 (scents smell brighter).


Saul:

Rash at Release Level 1.
1 Malevolence, 0 nearby aura manifest, 1 invested (Spirit Sight).
Uninjured and a little Fatigued.
High Instability.

Human taint level 4 (mind whispers, -1 perception).
Vampiric taint level 2 (sun deals a bashing per scene).
Zombie taint level 2 (sooo hungry).



The Tree:

Growth:

Stage Five.
0 / 60th toward next stage.

Realisation:

15m Tall.
Air and Space fifteen meter radius (15 points worth).
Expanse of Dark water to one side of base (15 points worth).
Beach of White sand to other side of base (15 points worth).

Adaption:

Celerity complete (quickened interplay shade and branches).
Protean underway – 2 / 10ths progressed.

Reserve:

8 Tree Aura.
106 Essence.
8 Primal Essence.
95 points worth of Soul Fragments.

Expected Sources:

Belinda’s household: ~10 essence / night (solid, familial).
Samaritan colony: ~40 essence / night (awestruck neighbours).
Indro colony: ~ 45 essence / night (renowned, larger pop).
Enoggera Barracks: ~45 essence / night (indebted subgroup).
Misc: 0 to 5 (various outliers and mavericks).



Next Session Ferals!

View
Session 24
BOOM!

Day Six, One Hour before Noon

Saul wakes in a cop car in the Indooroopilly Shopingtown carpark. It’s sweltering hot. With Cries of World he has heard Quentin’s call for help and glimpsed a confrontation taking place between the Bardon colony folk and four large, bestial bikies.

Saul starts the car, screeching over to the cinema doors, the only unbarricaded entrance into the building. While he’s doing this he raised Mind’s Reach, waking Belinda and Anthony, who were sleeping inside.

Saul: We gotta move. There’s Werewolves at your place looking for Lisa

Belinda: Should we Spirit Step and carry Anthony?

Saul: That’s probably a better idea. Faster.

A quick dash inside doesn’t give the Black Sun enough time to scorch him. Saul waves off one of Ivy’s inner circle on the cinema mezzanine level who approaches in concern as down jogs down the stairs and then the escalator.

Guard: “Anything wrong?”

Saul: “Never mind!”

Pushing through the crowded food court he meets Anthony and Belinda down on the second level of the shopping arcade, where they’ve emerged from the divided up sleeping areas.

Saul: “We all ready?”

Belinda: “Lets step aside. Ivy would be intriged if we just disapear in front of everyone.”

In one of the curtained off nooks Saul manifests and then spends his Infiltrating Roots aura pulling open a path through space toward the Domain. With two rounds of effort they’ve faded almost completely, and the Tree is almost within reach when there’s some kind of freak current of resistance. Saul almost loses his grip on the party. Belinda has Spirit Step too however. Manifesting Petal Fall aura she steadies their passage and the trio emerge into the Tree, leaving one point of Saul’s Infiltrating Roots in the floor of Indro shopping center.


The Tree

It’s Anthony and Belinda’s first time here in the flesh. They stare up at the ten meter incarnation of their corporate selves. The expanse of dark water laps around their feet as they stand on the Tree’s roots. The air they breath has been realised from spiritual essence. It strikes them how small a world this physically is. The temptation is to realise more, more space, more air, more existence.

Saul: “No time to wander, we gotta go!”

Anthony pauses them a second, taking the opportunity to break down some less desirable fragments into Essence, buffering their supply. Saul drops Domain Dreaming to improve his concentration, and brings up Spirit Sight. Belinda brings up her Spirit Sight as well.

Anthony: “Here’s a question. Are we going to attack them as soon as we get there?”

Saul: “Dunno. I don’t think they’re gonna back down.”

Anthony: “Righteo, that will change my preperations.”

Taking advantage of the Domain giving them full Release Level the brush hook wielding old man invests aura into Celerity and Potence. Belinda pumps Potence and manifests some Petal Fall Hair ready for use. The Tree is almost dry of normal Essence at this point and Saul’s Roots aura would remain behind if he manifested it here.

Saul: “Mind if I break down one of these bad boys?” {gesturing at the Primal Essence in reserve}.

Belinda: {sort of nods with a go ‘ahead’ type gesture}.

Anthony: “I just want to keep one of each type.”

Saul: “Yeah, research purposes. Alright!”

He breaks one of the fishy Primal Essence into a rush of ten Essence, manifesting it as Shadow Cloak aura that obscures his body. Manifesting Infiltrating Roots from the scraps of other Essence in the reserve he prepares to open the way back to earth.

Saul’s Malevolence is now running high. Combined with the Instability he’s carrying, and the Composure suppressing effect of level four Human taint, he has entered the Serenely Violent temptation state. Belinda and Anthony are Indulgent.

Saul: {remembering Lisa’s info} “I think their leader is probably Garret Rankin. Sound’s the most likely of the ones Lisa told us about. He runs the main pack, has a one eyed cat totem. Could also be Calvin White, Andrew Baker, or Tod Neives. The older one might be Andrew actually, for all the good it’ll do us to know.”


Stepping In

Saul gets a critical success on his Cries of the World attempt to glimpse Quentin’s situation again. He gets clear view of the end of Bardon colony’s street. Quentin’s hand is under his jacket, Gary’s hands are empty, but he looks steady so far. The older beastman is to one side, shotgun aimed steady at the rooftop sentry, who looks just about ready to piss himself.

The leader of the beastmen has turned from yelling at Gary and Quintin across the barricade of cars to trying to cajole Lisa.

Young Beastman: “Garret’s dead…”

Saul: {at the Tree – laughs} “Not him then.”

Young Beastman: “Calvin’s in charge now. He beat Frank. James is too old. He and Banik have disappeared into the hills. The Red Moon’s made Calvin stronger. Come with us. He can give you the Change. He’s Changing all the Kin folk…”

The glimpse is so strong that Saul can zoom out for a wider view. There are crows perched all around, watching. Some kind of spirit of crowishness rides among them, but it’s not strong enough to offer any physical threat. Various samaritans watch from further up the street. Clara, Liam, and Stix have taken position behind a car with rifles ready. They must have rapidly looted the basement in Belinda’s house.

Fixing his attention on the road behind the four werewolves Saul starts spending aura from his Root’s manifestation to Spirit Step. Space opens smoothly before them this time. He adds Quentin to the Mind’s Reach gestalt as they go.

Saul: {loading his grenade launcher} Quentin. We’re gonna hit them from behind. No fucking around. We’re just gonna waste them all.

Quentin: Holy Fuck!


Werewolves in Bardon

Saul brings them into the world behind the werewolves. The bestial men don’t notice as the trio of Awakened set foot onto the bitumen.

Anthony steps forward around one of their Harley Davidsons and swings his brush hook down into the thigh young leader’s right hand man. Blood splashes as the werewolf screams in pain and surprise.

Belinda steps to one side, uzi raised. Because they’re directly behind the wolves there is a danger that any overshot will hit Quentin, Lisa and co, so instead of sweeping their enemies with a long burst Belinda focuses a short burst of ten rounds into the beast man Anthony just sliced. Bullets riddle his torso, shredding his jacket, riddling muscle and flesh. That much damage would have have dropped a human, but these dudes are seven foot tall and heavily muscled. Belinda steps back, taking cover behind one of the other Harleys.

Quentin has gotten Saul’s message load and clear. The peg legged ghoul, who grew up in the conflict zones of 1920s Africa, pushes both Gary and the old dude away before crash tackling Lisa, covering her with his body.

Lisa: “What the fuck!?!”

With his Composure impared Saul’s initiative is not great, but everyone else is surprised so he goes next. He fires his grenade launcher into the werewolf just meters in front of him, stumbling back with the recoil.

BOOM

The grenade round itself impacts the beastman with some force. When it exploded it shreds him apart. The beastman beside him, already heavily injured, dies horribly. The leader goes down, critically injured but breathing still. Shrapnel tears into the grissled, older beastman off to the side. He keeps his feet, torn, bloody, and looking pissed.

The explosion doesn’t just catch the enemy. Saul himself takes the blast head on, ears rupturing and shrapnel tearing through his flesh, he’s left on three health. The large motorbike gives Belinda some cover but an unlucky ricochet spears into her, taking her to two health. Anthony also takes a few levels of damage.

Lisa is largely shielded by Quentin. The extra distance, cover from the cars, and awesome luck see them get away almost without hurt. The luck continues with both Garry Choi and the older dude from the colony surviving too. Garry managed to dive to the ground which saves him some damage, but the old dude just stands there while bits of metal fly around his ears, completely stunned but untouched. The sentry on the roof isn’t so lucky, taking a couple of levels of lethal damage from a stray piece of shrapnel.

Saul: “Gotta get more of these!”

Anthony: “There’s a whole army barracks down the road, although you did nearly blow us up…”

Saul: {grinning} “I did!”

Spending Petal Fall Hair on Regeneration as fast as he can manifest it, Anthony steps through gore and entrails to swing a heavy blow at the critically injured leader. The brush hook cuts deep into the downed beastman’s chest, carving through ribs, lungs, and arteries alike. Even a werewolf’s massive vitality can’t recover from such a blow. The young leader dies.

Belinda: “One left.”

She manifests Petal Fall aura and regenerates as she levels her uzi at the remaining werewolf.

Belinda: What do you think?

Anthony: He isn’t likely to be rational.

Saul: Tell him to drop his gun and stand down if he doesn’t want to be wasted like his pack mates!

Belinda: {uzi high} “Drop your weapon. We might be able to sort something out.”

She stands ready to unleash a burst of gunfire at the grizzled, heavily injured werewolf. While he staggers, trying to gather his wits Quentin rolls off Lisa and gets to his feet. Drawing his dirty harry handgun the ghoul levels it at the werewolf, ready to fire. Lisa follows soon after, rising to one knee and drawing a bead her sig assault rifle.

The werewolf regenerates. It’s an impressive amount of healing. They can see the muscles in his neck strain, but he successfully holds back his rage.

Grizzled Werewolf: “Whoa whoa!” {raising his hands as he drops his shotgun} “Where the fuck did you come from? Who are you people?”

Anthony: “This is our street.”

Werewolf: “Let me take my fallen for burial. I’ll leave. You can keep her.”

Saul finishes loading another round into the grenade launcher and brings it to bear on the surrendered werewolf whose eyes widen.

Saul: He can have ’em in a half hour or so.

Belinda: He’ll attack if they scream.

Saul: “Alright. For Lisa’s sake we won’t nuke you just yet.” {advancing} “You come have some words with us before you go, then you can take your pack mates with you.”


A Brief Interrogation

The last of Saul’s Shadow Cloak boils away, having protected him from the sun this far. Finger on the triger of his assault rifle he herds the captive werewolf along the street. Belinda, Quentin, and Lisa follow with their own guns levelled. Garry Choi, hands still empty, tags along to see what will happen. A few doors down from the carnage Saul gestures their captive into the front room of a partially stripped house. The others crowd in behind him.

The grizzled beastman does indeed turn out to be Andrew Baker, an elder member of the main Glasshouse pack. He keeps his hands part raised and his voice level, visibly trying to keep both himself, and the Serenely Violent Saul, calm.

Yeah I fucked up here too. Saul should have had to make Will checks to resist the temptation for violence several times.

Saul: “So what did you come here for?”

Andrew: “Calvin wants all the kinfolk.”

Saul: “Calvin White.”

Andrew: {giving Saul a ’how’d you know that’ look} “Yeah… He’s the leader of the pack now.”

Saul: “Yeah he was a good mate of Dave too wasn’t he.”

Andrew: “The fuck… Who the fuck are you people?”

Lisa: {finger tightens on the trigger}.

Among the carnage, Anthony has watched until the captive was out of sight, then settled to the grizzly business of devouring the souls from the three blasted werewolves’ corpses. The dead leader’s eyes roll back under Anthony’s hands. His soul screams, the first time that horrific sound has rung out over the Samaritan colony’s street.

Inside the house, Andrew obviously recognizes the screamer. Veins stand out in his neck as he loses control, raging, growing in fury toward his Crinos war form. The curse of Lunacy sweeps out from his transformation, twisting the air, but Belinda, Saul, Quentin, and Lisa are ready.

From point blank range they all open fire. The uzi, assault rifles, and .50 caliber revolver roar. Blood sprays, fragments of flesh fly. It’s more than the heavily wounded werewolf can sustain. He falls. Lisa is the last to cease firing. When her clip runs dry she raises her gun, looking down with a cold hard smile at Andrew’s bullet ridden corpse.

In death the werewolf is caught halfway between human and monstrous shape. Garry Choi turns away. Stumbling to his knees in the doorway he vomits out the contents of his guts. Saul thumps him on the back.

Saul: “You did good kid. Lot of weird shit out there for you to get used to, but like you’ve seen, a good bit of lead will take it down. Just keep that in mind.”

A second scream from a Devoured soul rings out. Saul turns to the other humans in the room.

Saul: “That sentry on the room needs seeing too, and you’d better check on the old guy as well. Don’t worry about the screaming its… uh… for all of us.”

He asks Lisa if there’s any last thing she wants to say or do to Andrew before he’s gone completely. She shakes her head.

Lisa: “I’m satisfied.”


Aftermath

While Anthony devours the souls of the three younger werewolves in the street outside Belinda and Saul together devour Andrew’s (more powerful) soul where he fell. Torn screams echo throughout the colony. Fragments flow to the Tree. Anthony Absorbs some of the Gift of Might as he Devours, while Belinda Absorbs some Stamina. I think Saul might have abstained.

Note: I messed up here too, because you killed them so fast they hadn’t consumed their reserves of spiritual strength. Remind me and I’ll throw some more Essence in the reservoir start of next session.

With that grizzly task done Quentin brings the wounded sentry to Anthony for some healing. Anthony manifests Petal Fall aura and lays on hands. The wounds close.

Sentry: “Thank you. Thought I was a goner. What were they?”

Anthony: “People, just people. You’ll have to react faster if you want to be a guard.”

Sentry: “They rocked up on bikes, had a shotgun out before I could do anything. I blew the duck whistle but didn’t want to shoot them, they weren’t zombies they were people… but what were they?”

Anthony: “On a different day they could have been friends.”

Saul searches the bodies. The werewolves were wearing jeans, tee shirts, and bikie jackets. They weren’t carrying much in their pockets. Saul gets the shotgun and a hand full of 12 gauge shells, a couple of sets of house keys, and a switch blade knife. He’s pushed through into Ecstatic Abandon now so doesn’t really car about gore and blood staining his hands. A colony kid, one of the ones who put a football through his window the other day, drifts over to watch him.

Kid: “What you doing?”

Saul: {succeeding Will check not to kill} “I’m doing an important thing here Jimmy. I’m looting the corpses. It’s an important skill. You want to help me? Give me everything you find so I can Devour it all!”

Kid: {backing away} “Ah… No… I’ll…” {runs for his life}.

Anthony: “Quentin get these people doing whatever you can to get the bodies buried and these bikes cleaned up. I’ll be inside.”

Quentin: “Yeah, I’ll try explain a bit to the others too. Should be alright…” {looks a bit fish-eyed at Saul}.

Saul: “We should take their heads off, put them on stakes.”

Anthony: “No. We should bury Lisa’s previous acquaintances with respect.”

He takes Saul inside and Belinda soon follows. They leave the colonists to finish cleaning up the corpses, blasted cars and bikes. The odd comment that Quentin overhears comes to them through Mind’s Reach.

“Should fix these up. Be cool to ride a Harley around.”

“They said there were others. What if they come back?”

“Fence doesn’t look so sturdy now.”

Saul monitors closely from inside the house, listening for any who might be particularly panicked, or inclined to incite the others to do something drastic.


Sunset Barbecue

The afternoon wanes. The moon rises a couple more hand spans up into the sky, waning down half way as the red storm rotates out of view. With time the Awakened’s Malevolence recedes. Peace returns to the street. At some point the spirit ridden flock of crows flies away.

Saul and Anthony are pottering around the house. Belinda is abed, determined to catch up on her sleep. Garry comes over. He seems a bit nervous, asks what those things were and if the colony is going to be alright.

Saul: “Did those things seem like they were a problem for us?”

Garry: “Well there were explosions and those guys had lot of wierd shit going on.”

Anthony: “Put it this way, everyone here has seen their old neighbors and workmates trying to eat them, a least these we can talk to.”

Garry seems boosted by the confidence of the Awakened. He tells them that they’re putting on a bit of a barbecue at the Samaritan’s house, invites them to come over and join in, maybe talk to the everyone about what happened. Anthony and Saul do so. They tell it to people straight.

Saul: “Might have gotten complacent, but the dangerous shit out there is gonna be a threat. We’ll deal with it.”

There are some expressions of unrest.

Anthony: “Well anyone who wants to leave can. You can take a bag of supplies and head out…”

Colonist A: “But is there anywhere we can go?”

Anthony: “Well, we’ve done a couple of laps…”

Halfway through his sentence a young kid suddenly exclaims.

Kid: “Daddy! Daddy! Look! A Drone!”

Sure enough there’s a silver drone hovering about fifty meters overhead, and another in the distance making a sweep over the sunset lit suburb.

Saul: {softly} “Well shit.”

Colonist B: “Wow! Someone’s out there!” {happy relief}.

Saul: “Yep, like those four dudes on motorbikes.”

Colonist C: “How bad is it gonna get? Is it better to stay or go.”

Anthony: {considers for a moment} “Well… We probably don’t need to go anywhere tonight…”

The colonists seem reassured. The barbeque turns to more typical socialising as people cook and eat their fried spam, home made flat bread, and tinned bean salad. Anthony takes advantage of a quiet moment to pull Quentin aside.

Anthony: “That drone was probably the army. They’re not conscripting people yet… but they’re likely to come during the day. You might want to go a few houses over or somewhere safer…”

Quentin: {nods seriously} “I’ll give her a heads up.”


Basement talks

By the time the barbeque winds down it’s well after dark. Even late sleeping Isobella is up. Saul finds her in her room in Belinda’s basement.

Saul: “About those wards…”

Isobella: “Yes?”

Saul: “Seeing as your more or less here to stay, do you think you could do any around the place?”

Isobella: “Oh yes, I didn’t want to intrude. What kind and how strong? Obviously you’re not going to want your neighbours to forget the house is here?”

Saul: {looking tempted} “How much blood would you need?”

Isobella: "Well I like to do some research on how potent your blood is compared to mortals first, and I’m still looking to replenish my blood stones… "

Anthony: {from the steps} “How about we just try it tonight and see how we go? I think this may be urgent.”

Isobella is amenable but the reserves of raw Essence in the Tree are low. Anthony and Saul decide to delay until after the midnight reckoning.


Kitchen Convos

Some time later Belinda, having slept for a few hours, has wandered out for a hot cup of tea or something. Saul broaches the topic of the army as the three Awakened sit around in the kitchen.

Saul: “What do we want to do? Try and take them over?”

Anthony: “Something to be considered.”

Belinda: “We don’t know what they have.”

Saul: “Can try and find out.”

Belinda: “Toowomba has the fire guys…”

Anthony: “That’s another thing. I think the local base is a more pressing issue.”

Belinda: “But whether these ones have unworldy defences?”

Saul: “What if we sneak in? Or maybe send someone in as a refugee with a Mark on them so that we can establish Mind’s Reach?”

Anthony: “If the army were to come and say ‘we have a base’ I imagine at least half the street would consider leaving.”

Saul: “Don’t want to get to that stage. Don’t want to lose our population base. If we can sneak in and get some idea of who’s behind them and what they’re doing… I think a mark would be one of the easiest ways.”

Anthony: “I’d be interested to hear what Amelia’s first night was like.”

Saul: “Yeah, if she’s already in charage of the place, and if we can make a deal with her, if she’s amenable to deals…”

Anthony: “She seemed friendly enough on the bus.”

Saul: “Yeah but flighty. I think we need to do something about the army now, maybe while everyone is disrupted. We’ve got a lot of buses but don’t know where to go. Dealing with the army might be an easier solution, more productive anyway ‘cause they’ve got good gear…” {grins}

The others consider it a while.

Anthony: “We can either try and take the army barracks or the city.”

Saul: {surprised laugh} “The City!?”

Belinda: “The barracks is easier.”

Saul: “Did you have something in mind?”

Anthony: “That tower on Ann Street, but the barracks is probably easier.”

Saul: “We can at least explore it.”

Anthony: “So how do we get a couple of people inside without losing the entire street?”

Belinda: “Soon as they go in they’ll give away our position, and what they’ve seen.”

Saul: “Well… Lisa seems like a pretty stout person, pretty capable. If we brief her on what we’re trying to do she might be amenable… Also if she’s in the army barracks the wolves can’t rightly come after us…”

Anthony: “Seems like the best plan. Certainly we won’t get Quentin or any of Isobella’s people in, and any of the other humans would be…”

Saul: “liabilities.”


Evening proposals

Saul and Anthony go looking for Lisa. Belinda goes back to bed.

Belinda: “Wake me if it’s important.”

Lisa is still awake. She was upstairs cleaning her weapon and staring outside, looking wired

Anthony: “How are you feeling?”

Lisa: “Worried. It was so sudden. The crows… I’m worried they’ll come back.”

Anthony: “We have a proposition for you…”

They explain that they haven’t been entirely forthcoming with the people around them, that some of the armed forces survived and are based just north of Bardon.

Lisa: “Oh. Why haven’t you told anyone?”

Anthony: “They’re not the army anymore, just the most well armed.”

Saul: “We don’t know who is behind them, if you know what what I mean. You know about werewolves and vampires and such.”

They explain a little of what they know, that the person who seems to be running the base was apparently a mid ranker before the night of the fall, and that they don’t know how he pulled the surviving forces together.

Lisa: “What do you want me to do?”

Saul: “Well you seem like a capable woman who can handle yourself. You’ve seen what we can do to help you. We think you could work your way in there and work out whose behind the show.”

Anthony: “You’d be safer inside too.”

Assured that the Awakened don’t think either the Glasshouse Boys or the Lunatics are running the place she asks them how they’d contact her, by magic? They tell her yes and she asks if they’d come if she called for help, like the did today. Again they tell her yes.

Lisa: “I’ll do it. I don’t want to lead more trouble to here anyway. The people in this street… They’re just ordinary.”

She cautions them to be careful, that if the young bloods are in charge of the pack now they might come for revenge, that the crows will report what happened here today to the pack, that Banik is good with spirits and used to use them in his work as a private investigator.

Anthony and Saul ask her about the pack. She says Calvin was a young blood, quite wild, and that the elder wolves used to kip a lid on things. She doesn’t believe what the young werewolf (Tod Neives) said about Calvin White being able to bring the Change to kin folk.

Lisa: “The Change is Gaia’s blessing. It either happens or it won’t. They’ll be putting spirits or something into people…”

Lisa asks them how she’ll get into the barracks. They tell her she can just drive up to the boundary. That the barracks is still actively taking in refugees. Together they come up with a cover story. Sticking as closely to the truth as posible she is to say that she came down from Kilkoy like she really did, but that she found refuge in Sherwood (south of the river from Indooroopilly). She’s to say that those folk turned out to be nut cases who tried to drain her blood, so she fled north, having heard about the barracks and safety.


Late Night Tattoos

It falls to Saul to Bestow the mark on Lisa.

Saul: “This will be a bit intimate.”

Lisa: “What?”

Saul: “Well they’ll search you. It might have to go in a sensitive place…”

He explains that the link they’ll be using is a tattoo like mark which allows the Bestower to hear the receivers thoughts, see what they see, feel what they feel, more or less.

Saul: “It’s like the crows, how we knew Quentin was in trouble.”

Anthony: “Think of it like a butterfly stamp.”

Lisa seems to understand the intimate nature of the link but is unconvinced the mark itself needs to be intimately located.

Lisa: “You said it’s like a tattoo… Can anyone tell that it’s not? If its magic and they have magicians won’t they find it wherever it is?”

Saul and Anthony call in Quentin to show Lisa the roots mark in his armpit and reassure her they’re not just being weird. Saul notices that Quentin’s mark is drained of its point of aura. The mark itself still exists, and still acts as a beacon for Saul, it just seems less vital than before. He hadn’t realised it was possible for the mark to lose its contents. He also notices that the ninetyish year old ghoul, who has been dry of vampiric blood all week, is looking a lot less haggard than he was a few days ago.

Anthony: “To make Lisa more comfortable perhaps you could perform the ritual on Quentin again to illustrate that there is no harm.”

Saul: {reluctant} “The ritual takes quite a lot out of me…”

Anthony: “Would refilling do that though?” {holds out his Seed of Life} “This takes a lot out of me to form, but pouring Essence into it is a case of concentration.”

Saul gives it a go, discovering that he can indeed refill the mark without having to spend Will. Quentin didn’t seem to have noticed the difference, and they still arn’t sure why the Aura drained away in the first place (it should have been persistent), but they’ve unlocked a new usage of Bestow.

Lisa does indeed seem reassured, but she still doesn’t seem to see the need to hide the mark. She elects to get it placed on her back, between her shoulder blades. Saul successfully spends a Will and invests one point of Aura. Shadowy roots appear on Lisa’s skin. He tries to form them into a depiction of Dave’s bearded face. With no previous experience at drawing and one success on a craft roll he manages a caricature that is recognisably a human like but it ain’t no photo quality tat.

Saul: “It’s Dave’s head alright.”

Lisa: {looking slightly suspicious, slightly touched, as she pulls her shirt back down} “Alright.”


Sending Out the Spy

Lisa is keen to head out immediately. Saul and Anthony decide to follow her as far as they followed the buses last night, just in case they run into anything along the way. Both the Awakened are keen not to drive, so they wake a somewhat reluctant Belinda who climbs sleepily behind the wheel of Isobella’s suv.

Lisa takes her four wheel drive. She asks if she should take her guns and Anthony encourages her to do so.

Anthony: “Show your competence, you’ll probably get guard duty.”

They throw some food, water, and other kit in to make it look like she’s grabbed what she can and fled. Then they set out.

The roads are quiet, they’re route familiar. They dont encounter any zombies as they head north over Bardon ridge. When its time for Lisa to drive forward alone Saul brings up Mind’s Reach, adding her to the gestalt.

Saul: We’re in contact and can see through your eyes. You can talk to us as if we were with you in your mind.

Lisa: {concentrating as she drives down and over Ithica creek} Thank you. Err…. Is this permanent?

Saul: It’s not. But if you’re desperate yell and we’ll be listening.

Anthony: Otherwise we’ll check in an hour after dawn and an hour after dusk.

They watch from the other side of the valley as Lisa’s headlights crawl up toward Waterwork’s road. When she gets close enough heavy duty spotlight snap on, bathing her car in light. Mind’s Reach show the Awakened Lisa’s hands on the steering wheel as she pulls up, half blinded by glare, in front of a light armoured vehicle.

A guard walks over and talks to her. The Awakened listen as she spins her story of flight. The guard is sympathetic, but tells her that they don’t take refugees directly into the barracks at night. She’ll have to follow a gwagon over to a holding area in Ashgrove shopping center. He seems impressed when he sees Lisa’s sig assault rifle stowed securely but within easy reach.

The guard tells her that she’ll have to surrender her weapons and equipment to accept refuge, but he urges her to join the militia, tells her that they’ve just about finished sweeping the suburbs north of the base.

With an act of Will Saul holds Mind’s Reach up for ten more minutes as his slight Malevolence drains away. The Awakened watch through Lisa’s eyes as she follows along behind the military vehicle, getting to Ashgrove without incident.

The shopping center seems well secured with a spotlit perimiter or razor wire and soldiers standing guard at vehicular posts. The inside of the supermarket has been cleared. From the rows of bedding laid out the facility has more than enough capacity to process the two bus loads it would have received last night, altough there are only a few other refugees and the soldiers here tonight.

Mind’s Reach drops before the Awakened get to see much of Lisa’s entry process, but the BCF personnel seem friendly here too. Again she’s encouraged to sign up for the militia once she gets accepted into the base. The soldiers seem impressed with her demeanour, the fact that she’s armed, and able to travel at night without becoming a quivering mess.

Reasured the Awakened head back to their home, making it without incident.


Midnight at the Tree

The Red Moon is two thirds of the way up into the sky, a shadowed disk with none of its day side showing. Anthony, Belinda, and Saul meet in spirit at the Tree.

Over one hundred and sixty points of Essence flow into the Tree.

Almost everyone at the Bardon colony contributes, what with all the explosions, werewolves, and soul torn screaming. About fifty points of Essence flows in. The Awakened glimpse Isobella in her study, Quentin and Curtis sitting up talking, Clara and her kids asleep. The sentry at the end of the street is looking at the stars, shivering both from fear and the bitter cold. Various of the colony folk are asleep, or awake and talking in the houses along the street.

“What else could be out there?”

“Are we ever going to be safe again?”

The Indooroopilly shopping town complex contribute as much as Bardon, a less intense flow but from a larger population of people. Glimpses here are of people sleeping in spaces now less crowded, or sitting around propane stoves heating late night drinks.

“Do you think they really made it?”

“Maybe we should have gone too?”

Essence flows from the Enoggera army barracks too. Both an intense flow from the refugees that the Awakened transported last night, and a weaker interest from those barracks residents that the newcomers have talked to. The Awakened catch glimpses of bunk beds inside permanent, army style tents, people whispering to each other in the dark.

“Mummy I want to go home.”

“Took so long to let us in.”

“Wonder if they’re alright. They were just driving around like there was nothing wrong!”

A few other threads of contribution flow in, but the Awakened aren’t listening for anyone in particular. Nor are they searching for the death cries of potential vessels. They are in fact contemplating the wealth of fresh Essence brimming in their reserve alongside the older Essence, Soul Fragments, and units of Primal Essence.

They Assimilate four points of Essence each. It’s almost completely used to lower Instability. Belinda manages to clear her vampiric taint entirely becoming the first Awakened to do so. She also drops her lycanthropic taint somewhat, while Anthony drops his vampire taint to level one. Saul manages to drop his human taint to level four, regaining the use of his full Composure, Wits, and Intellect. He ameliorates a little vampiric taint as well, but enough is left that the sun will still scorch him.

Although tempted, none of the Awakened take the opportunity to Absorb Soul Fragments. Perhaps they’re maturing in regards to their management of Instability?

The Tree grows. Consuming twenty three points of Essence out of the three hundred plus points worth in the reserve is enough to take the Tree to the next stage. Then consumption stops.

The Tree burgeons into Growth Stage Five. Physically it is now fifteen meters tall. As a Domain it has achieved the full circle of the Essence Tier of Existence.

The Players can now achieve Release Level 5.

They can learn and use 5th dot powers.

They can Assimilate 5 points of Aura per day.

Incarnations of the Tree can now be planted in the physical world.

The Tree now condenses Essence into Primal Essence (very slowly).

The Tree no longer consumes Essence to grow. It must now consume Primal Essence to grow further, requiring 60 points to reach growth stage six. Primal Essence is consumed using a nightly [growth stage] roll, which the Awakened may constrain if they wish.

The Awakened seem somewhat surprised by the changes.

Anthony: “We’ll need to find a different way to convert Essence to Primal Essence.”

Saul: “Or just get more. We could hunt other Awakened…”

Anthony: {stares hard at the single unit of dark Primal Essence the got from Devouring the Black Priest}.


Here we end the session
Thanks for reading



Status

Anthony:

Indulgent at Release Level 1.
No Malevolence with 1 Aura nearby, (in a Seed of Life).
Slightly Bruised and Fatigued.
Very High Instability:

Human taint level 4 (mind whispers, -1 perception).
Lycanthropic taint level 3 (rage issues, silver burns).
Zombie taint level 3 (-1 perception and move in sunlight).
Vampire taint level 1 (sun seems very bright).


Belinda:

Restive at Release Level 0.
No Malevolence and No Aura nearby.
Injured and a little Fatigued.
Moderate Instability:

Human taint level 3 (an excuse for erratic behaviour).
Lycanthropic taint level 2 (silver burns).
Animal taint level 1 (scents smell different).


Saul:

Exhilarated at Release Level 1.
No Malevolence with 1 Aura nearby, (in Quentin’s mark).
Quite Injured and Moderately Exhausted.
High Instability:

Human taint level 4 (mind whispers, -1 perception).
Vampiric taint level 2 (scorched by prolonged sunlight).
Zombie taint level 2 (so hungry).


The Tree:

Growth:

Stage Five.
0 / 60th toward next stage.

Realisation:

15m Tall
Air and Space surround it (15 points worth).
Expanse of dark water spreads from its base (15 points worth).

Adaption:

Celerity complete (quickened interplay shade and branches).
Protean underway – 2 / 10ths progressed.

Reserve:

~170 Essence.
92 points worth of Soul Fragments.
8 Primal Essence.

Expected Sources:

Belinda’s household: ~10 essence / night (solid, familial).
Samaritan colony: ~40 essence / night (awestruck neighbours).
Indooroopilly colony: ~ 40 essence / night (renowned, larger pop).
Enoggera Barracks: ~40 essence / night (indebted subgroup).



Next Session: Armed Negotiations

View
Session 23
Convoy

Ten Minutes into Day Six

Another midnight has passed. The Red Moon hangs about eight degrees above the eastern horizon, a huge red crescent with a backdrop of red, gold, and blue stars.

Saul Spirit Steps from the Tree to Earth, using a glimpse of Quentin as his guide (Cries of the World focused on the mark Bestowed on Quentin). The hundred year old ghoul seemed a little rattled when Saul emerges from thin air in the downstair hallway of Belinda’s house, but relaxes quickly when Saul greets him casually and makes a passing queiry about Isobella’s condition.

A short time later, over coffees in the kitchen, Belinda, Anthony, and Saul discuss how to fulfil their promise to transport refugees from the Indooroopilly shopping center to Enoggra army barracks. They decide to take a civilian car since they might be interacting with military types, settling on Isobella’s armored suv rather than Belinda’s four wheel drive.

Belinda: “too much sentimental value to risk it”

They chuck a couple of cans of petrol in the vehicle, and then a couple more empty cans, just in case. Saul grabs the lueitenant’s assault rifle (the one with the under slung grenade launcher) from among the salvaged gear they brought back from wivenhoe (did he put an uzi back in storage?), consolidating three clips of 5.5mm ammunition for the rifle from the loot and making sure to take the five 40mm grenade rounds for the launcher as well.


Road to Toowong

The boys are keen for Belinda to drive. She takes them around the land slip on south side of Bardon ridge via Latrobe terrace. They can feel the prickle of zombies on the edge of their spirit sense but nothing jumps out at them. Skirting the boundary of government house Belinda gets a feeling very similar to the sense she got from the wards Isobella cast around those canisters they got from Wivenhoe. They opt not to investigate right now, continuing over the next ridge and past the cemetery without incident.

The rent in Mt Cootha is still spewing black wind into the night to their west. The Milton road roundabout is free of water when they get there, but still muddy and strewn with flood debris. Belinda gears down and drives through cautiously.


Grabbing the bus(es)

Pulling in to the entry of Toowong bus depot their headlights reveal three white metal tanks on stands and a facility that seems untouched by the apocalypse. The three Awakened raise Spirit Sight, and Belinda brings up Mind’s Reach, but they don’t sense any zombie or other presences inside the chain link fence.

They break in and drive a lap around the rows of parked busses. They briefly look at the raised admin block before deciding that bus keys are more likely to be kept down in the hanger style shed that seemed to house the mechanic’s work area.

Belinda pulls up with her headlights beaming into the work bays and the suv’s engine idling. There’s a bus up on jacks. Wall mounted tool boxes line one side of the shed, while on the other a long window and door looks like they might lead to a smoko room or supervisor’s office. Everything seems neat. There is no sign of life or trouble.

Anthony: “It was late when the apocalypse happened.”

Saul: “Yeah, I think we’re good.”

Belinda: “So who wants to break in?”

Saul gets out to investigate. Shining a torch through the glass he confirms the room they could see off to the side of the mechanics area is an office, but the door into it is locked, so he works his way around the building until he finds a badly shut window that he can slide open.

Inside it looks ordinary and worklike. He prowls through a lunch room and a couple more offices before finding a board of numbered bus keys. He locates two sets with tags corresponding to buses that were in the outer row.

Saul: (over mind’s reach) Want me to look for keys to those fuel tanks too?

Belinda: Good idea. If we have the keys then…

Anthony: Someone else doesn’t.

Grinning evilly Saul sweeps the rest of the bus keys into his bag and hunts around until he finds a set of padlock keys with a tag marked ‘fuel’. For good measure he takes the other set he finds marked ‘tool boxes’ as well.

Anthony makes immediate use of the tool box keys to grab some larger wrenches and pieces of equipment and throw them into the back of the suv. The keys marked fuel do prove to be for the standing tanks outside, which have a locking plate over their pipe fittings and seem to contain diesel.

Investigations over they turn to some grand theft auto. Belinda takes one bus, settling in confidently to survay the semi familiar instrumentation, Saul, somewhat less confidently takes another. They roll out with Belinda in the lead, Antony, driving the suv, in the middle, and Saul bringing up the rear.


To Indro they go

In convoy they work their way through the abandoned streets of Toowong, onto Moggill road and over Taringa. With an act of Will Anthony has keeps his Malevolence from deteriorating, thus keeping his Spirit Sight active. Belinda and Saul have both draw a couple more Essence from the Tree to refresh theirs.

As they steam down toward the Indooroopilly roundabout the walkie talkie in the suv crackles to life.

“Friendly peace keeping guys is that you?”

It’s one of Ivy’s people. The Awakened confirm it’s them, and that they’ve returned to keep their promise. The guard directs them to drive up the ramp onto the rooftop carpark instead of pulling into the bus station as the ramp is the only entry not permanently barricaded off.

Belinda leads the convoy right around the shopping center so they can approach from the right direction. Saul wonders over mind’s reach whether the police station across the road from the shopping center has been looted yet. From what he can see there’s some glass on the ground, but there are still a couple of cop cars parked out front.

The ramp proves to be a very tight fit for a bus. Belinda leaves a lot of paint and metal on the curved concrete barriers but manages not to get wedged. The guards roll the barricade aside and gesture her forward into the carpark proper.

Belinda: Maybe you should stay down the bottom.

Anthony: We can try finding an actual driver.

Saul: Nah. I don’t want to stay down here with all that racket.

Belinda: Well they can drive themselves back.

Proceeding very carefully Saul manages to get the bus up the ramp, having watched Belinda’s example.

Saul: Please don’t make me do that again


Gathering the Refugees

Leaving the two busses parked in front of the cinema entrance the characters head inside. It’s dim, smokey and smelling in there as last time. Ivy Purcel is in the food court marshalling the people who’ve decided to take this chance to leave. Many of the other survivors in the colony are crowding around too, just to see how things go. Anthony steps up, and he’s pretty direct.

Anthony: "Grab your bags. We’ve got two busses. We’ll need someone to drive each one because we want to be able to deal with any stuff that comes up. "

The refugees look at each other. After a moment one lady puts her hand up.

Lady: “I’ll do it. I was a bus driver for a week once…”

Some other dude: “I’ve done a bit of farm work. I’ll give it a go…”

After establishing that the lady wasn’t fired for crashing a bus, Anthony gives them the go ahead. Everyone heads upstairs to the rooftop, under the night sky. Saul gives the farm boy a bit of instruction while the refugees load themselves aboard.

Off to one side Belinda chats with Ivy.

Belinda: “Wondering what your plans are. Do you intend to stay here?”

Ivy says she and her people will stay. They were living in a house in St Lucia but that area is wrecked, too many zombies and too much flooding. She says she thinks they’ll be safest here, unless the gangrel over the river become a problem.

Saul asks her if they’ve plundered the police station. Ivy says they did, that its where her group got their guns. She adds that she thinks other people may have been through after hers as well.

Saul: “So those police cruisers…”

Ivy: "We thought about them, but decided they’re too conspicous. You can have ’em if you want them.

Between them Belinda and Saul come up with the idea of parking one police cruiser up on the shopping center rooftop and taking the other one home so that the two colonies can communicate. I think they may have given Ivy an idea of where they were located too, just in case, tell me if I’m remembering that wrong.

Ivy is agreeable. She asks, in the event that the gangrel do push across the river, would the Awakened be willing to come and help fight them off? Sauls says yes, but that they can’t make promises about being able to get there in time. He asks if Ivy’s guards are just mortals. She says yes. She’s afraid to ghoul more people because she suspects her bite might cause infection.


Amelia

Meanwhile, aboard one of the buses, Anthony’s gets a faint Spirit Sense of… something. Succeeding a check on his monstrous Will he gets the feeling there is something preventing him from seeing, that his eyes are skipping one of the seats. He manifests aura to feed his Malavolent Soul until he breaks through the coercive misdirection, revealing Amelia Wright. She smiles and waves at him.

Anthony: “Not sure you were here for the convo, but the army people have everyone take lunch outside.”

Amelia: “But darling, how will they even know I’m there? Someone needs to find out just how hostile these guys are…”

Anthony asks her if she intends coming back but Amelia shrugs vaguely as if her plans are up in the air and it’s all just a pleasure jaunt.

Anthony: “Well it’s your choice, but they have guns and a lot of well trained men.”

Amelia: {looking delighted} “Oh indeed!”

Anthony: “And remember, I saw you.”

Amelia: {looking more serious} “Yes… but what are you?”

Anthony: {after a short pause} “At the moment, your friend. We got on well with the Prince for the short time we knew him.” Then, over Mind’s Reach ^Could someone mention to Ivy that Amelia’s catching a ride.

Belinda conveys the message. Ivy looks relieved. She hastens to explain that Amelia comes and goes. She’s an honoured guest, and the life of the party, but like all guests, after a few days…

Belinda: She doesn’t seem to have a problem with it

Anthony: “Well Amelia, best of luck.”

He moves on down the aisle of the bus. Meanwhile outside the conversation continues.

Saul: (asking Ivy) “You sure you’re ok with her leaving?”

Ivy: “Oh yes, she’s from the roaring twenties and twists men around her fingers. She’s much more powerful than me, just… batshit insane.”

Saul: “If they do find her they’ll know she came from here.”

Ivy: {face falling} “We’ll have to think about an escape route.”

Anthony: We do need to have a gangrel hunting expedition anyway…. sacrifice more protean to the Tree.


Police Station

While the last of the refugees are saying their goodbyes and loading onto the bus etc, Belinda and Saul across the road to the cop shop. Prowling around with torches they’re searching the duty officer’s desk for car keys when Belinda hears a telltale groan. It’s coming from the lockup. They both have the itchy feeling of a zombie nearby. Saul keeps looking for keys while Belinda keeps watch.

Belinda: Anthony, would you like to come down?

Anthony: For a zombie? Nah.

Saul finds some keys. Pressing the buttons on each fob unlocks the cruisers out front. Belinda goes toward the nearest.

Belinda: “Come on Saul.”

Saul: {pointing inside} “I’m mean I could just…”

While Belinda drives a police cruiser up to the top of the shopping center Saul finds the keys to the cells. He walks down the corridor, sliding up the hatch for each cell. In the third cell down a shirtless zombie snarls and reaches for him, blood on its face as it scrabbles at the barrier between them.

Saul: Got ’im. Gonna shoot him.

Anthony: I’ll be over in a moment

He heads down while Saul pulls out his nine millimetre handgun and takes careful aim through the observation hatch, placing the dot of his lazer sight between his victim’s brows. The first shot blows the zombie’s head open. Somehow it keeps moving however, bumping blindly into the door. Saul calmly lines up another shot and takes it out.

Up on the shopping center rooftop the sound of the shot is almost inaudible over the noise of crowd, but Ivy looks up.

Ivy: “Something’s going on!”

Ivy looks around and then talks into her radio. The guards on the bridge reply that all is clear.

Ivy: “Must be someone a fair way away then.”

Belinda: {poker face}

Down in the police station Saul opens the cell door carefully, handgun ready. There’s no response from the zombie. Saul finishes checking it just as Anthony arrives. He lets the Devouring maestro do his thing and two fragments flow into the Tree.

Anthony and Saul drive the remaining two cop cars up to the top of the shopping center, first checking the boot of one and finding a riot shielf, baton, body armour and can of pepper spray, which they throw on the back seat.

They actually get a little distracted on the way, detouring to check out a house Saul knows of and has been curious about, which has plastic sheeting over street facing entryway and windows. It’s abandoned, and turns out to be quite ordinary inside, smelling of mothballs and old people.


People Trafficking

When all the refugees seeking safety with the army (about eighty people) have finally said their goodbyes to those who’re staying, and loaded onto the buses, and when the Awakened have sorted out whose driving what, the convoy moves out. Saul takes the lead in a cop car, then Belinda in the suv, then the first bus, the second bus, and finally Anthony in the second cop car (they left the third one with Ivy).

The buses inch down the curved ramp without incident and then they hit the open road, cruising up and over Taringa at a cautious, but steady pace. They get through Toowong without incident. Saul takes them around the Mt Cootha side of the landslip. While they drive the characters debate over Mind’s Reach about whether the army group they’re taking the refugees to are talking to the Fire Lords’ army dudes that they encountered out at Wivenhoe, and whether they might be worth befriending anyway.

Saul: Nah this is the CBF. They’ve done fuck all so far. The guys we saw were far more proactive.

The Awakened come up with a plan to stop short of the Combined Brisbane Force’s boundary and let the refugee buses go in alone to avoid complications. They get around the landslip and over Bardon ridge without incident. Saul pulls up on the northern side. From here its a straight shot down, over Ithica creek and up to the CBF kill zone along Waterworks road.

Saul: Sure you want to send these guys to Enoggera?

Anthony: We can’t look after them, can’t feed them to the zombies, let’s send them on their way.

Belinda: Vampire and all…

The refugee driving the first bus gets out. Looking around somewhat nervously he approaches the window of Saul’s cop car.

Refugee: “Is anything wrong? What do we do?”

Saul: “This is it.” (then over Mind’s Reach) So we’re letting them go?

The driver is confused, asking what Saul means. Anthony and Belinda agree, they’re letting them go.

Saul: “Yep this is it.” {points into the darkness} “Just keep going up there. They’ll stop you.”

Refugee: “Oh… Are you sure they’re all right?”

Saul: “Yeah you’ll be alright, they’re army blokes. Just… don’t mention me.”

Refugee: {wild eyes}

Saul: "Yeah, ah… we’re kind of operating in secret. " (successful bluff check) “Higher ups want to keep it this way, lot of shit going on and you gotta be careful bout what you say.”

Refugee: “Oh. Ok Ok.” {looking around} “You know this wasn’t too bad.”

Saul: “We were lucky. It’s a mess out there.”

Reassured the refugee goes back to the bus and jumps back in the driver seat. He pulls out around Saul’s cop car with the second bus behind him. Saul waves as they pass. All three Awakened watch as the two buses’ tail lights receed down, and then up to waterworks road. As they approach the intersection where the Awakened found a LAV stationed last time a bright spotlight flashes on, illuminating the front of the lead bus. Anthony, Belinda, and Saul assume the refugees have been delivered safely.

It’s two hours until dawn, the Awakened head for home.


Bardon pit stop – chats with Isobella

The sentry at the end of the street seems surprised by what they’re driving.

Saul: “You’ve seen us bring APC’s through, what the fucks cop car!?!”

The Awakened park their hall in front of Belinda’s house. Inside Isobella is awake and busy in her basement room researching samples of the goop the characters brought back from Wivanhoe. She confirms that it is indeed radioactive.

Anthony: “Were back from a jaunt, took a busload of refugees and… Amelia.”

Isobella: {delighted} “Oh! She’s alive!”

Anthony: “Yes alive, and in the army barracks on an expedition.”

Isobella: “Well. She comes and goes.”

The Tremere magician doesn’t doesn’t seem particularly worried for Amelia among soldiers. Belinda broaches another topic.

Belinda: “While we were travelling we felt a familiar feeling from government house. Similar to the wards you’ve set here.”

Isobella: “Well yes, they’re mine.”

She explains that, as a favour to the Prince she would sometimes set weak wards for his mundane political pawns. The ones around government house, from memory, should be set to discourage theft and spying rather than outright entry. Saul asks if she’d be aware if they were broken. Isobella says not for such minor workings, but for stronger wards, like those around the canisters, she would.

Isobella: “I wouldn’t spend the effort required on a favor for kine…”

Anthony asks her if there are any other such workings in the area. Isobella says not locally, except for her own home. The Ashgrove / Bardon / Red Hill area used to be considered her personal territory and she discouraged such activities. However in other areas, especially those which were open hunting grounds like the CBD others would have patronised various mortal groups, establishing backup havens and hold outs etc.

She turns to Saul.

Isobella: “Did I sense you working sorcery yesterday?”

Saul: "Ah well. Pretty sure I didn’t actually work anything. The local kids disrupted me.

Isobella offers him instruction in sorcery, and the assistance of Liam, in exchange for blood. She wants to replenish her supply of blood stones and other reserves she used up in the long night. Initially thinking she wants to arrange access to mortal blood Saul says he’d have to discuss it with the others. However it’s Saul’s blood Isobella wants. She says she’s afraid to take much from mortals (including her own ghouls) because if something were to go wrong and she had to feed them her blood for healing there would be risk causing infection.

Saul: “Oh. Well I will definitely have to talk to my compatriots.”

The others seem cool with it.

Anthony: “In fairness I’ve already given her about twelve pints.”

Belinda: “Oh, so you know its ok?”

Anthony: “No, just someone else’s turn.”

Saul: “Ok, I’ll do it.”

Anthony: “We may want to prepare ourselves for the Essence to be spent.”

Saul: “Should have brought those buses home.”

They put the blood letting off for another night. Isobella didn’t seem ready to drop everything right then anyway.


Going Huntin

Belinda’s looking to head for bed, but talk turns to going hunting instead, even through both Anthony and Saul both have some vampiric taint remaining and its only an hour and a half or so until dawn.

Anthony: “Best time for hunting gangrel!”

Belinda: {shrugs} “You guys are the ones who’ll burn!”

They chuck some cardboard and garbage bags into one of the police cruisers, just in case things get too bright. Thinking about it they check the boot of the other cop car, uncovering some body armour, a shotgun, and a box of 12 gauge ammunition.

They head back south, Belinda driving again, although she’s half asleep and almost on autopilot. In Toowong they encounter a mob of five zombies drifting across the road. These still seem fresh, relativity undeformed. The Awakened calmly pull up and turn off the headlights. They wait until the zombies shuffle along.

Coming down from Taringa to Indooroopilly Saul gets on the walkie talkie.

Saul: “How you going? We’re coming to take a look at your bridge.”

Over the air, Ivy tells him they’ve basically had two encounters with a pack or packs of feral gangrel. Once, in Graceville, a salvage team was attacked on sight and managed to make a fighting retreat. A couple of days later a pack tried to rush the barricaded bridge.

Ivy: “Like a mob of crazed football fans!”


The Bridge

The flash of a torch lets them know they’ve been spotted as they approach. Leo, a human and leader of the current shift of guards, greets them, having been in on the walkie talkie conversation.

Indooroopilly bridge is an old metal construction with white painted gatehouses built over the road on either end. The guards have set up in the nearside gatehouses’ second story, overlooking the bridge itself and Gracevill beyond. The road beneath the gatehouse is blocked with cars. There’s a second barricade, these vehicles bullet riddled, across the middle of the bridge.

Leo tells them more about the battle. That they almost didn’t spot them until they were on the bridge itself. That they burned through most of their ammo in a rush of frantic shooting before the pack retreated. He seems satisfied with the wisdom of guarding the bridge, even though they’ve only seen the odd zombie since.

Leo: “Don’t think there’s anyone alive over there, but Ivy doesn’t want them on this side of the river.”

He and the lads pull aside key cars from the barricade to let the Awakened drive their cop car through, asking that they flash their lights when they’re coming back just to avoid trigger happy accidents.


Cruising Graceville

The three Awakened raise Spirit Sight and Mind’s Reach again as they cruise carefully down Honor avenue. It’s a rich area here in the bend of the river, the houses large, but dark and deserted, their gardens dying.

They can feel zombies on the edges of their perception, but spot no ravening hordes. Anthony becomes certain (streetwise botch) that he remembers a gun shop, just up ahead.

Anthony: “Saw one ages ago. It looked really well stocked!”

Following his mirage like instructions that it’s around the next turn, then the next they quickly become lost. Pulling up, without encounter, when the road disappears beneath a sea of mud and debris in the low lying area toward Rocklea.

Anthony: “Sure it used to be here. The flooding must have done more damage than I expected… It’s, uh, getting a bit bright. I’ll just be in the backseat.”

While he dives into the back to avoid the lightening sky Belinda perfectly navigates back through all the twists and turns. Still they encounter no zombies or gangrel, getting back to the bridge as dawn stains the horizon in the east.


Reverie

From the Graceville side of the river Belinda flashes her headlights.

Saul: “Pull up a second and let me think.”

He gets out in the grey light. Staring at the blood stains on the bridge, he raises the aura of visions, falling into Reverie.

A vision of the battle takes him. It went much as the Ivy and Leo described, but from this angle Saul can see more detail of the gangrel pack. Their numbers were higher than the Indooroopilly folk realised. Perhaps twenty to thirty gangrel were involved in the rush. Their figures were gaunt, and frantic. Their eyes gleamed, and several among them sported claws, tufted ears, or other animalistic traits, but none were fully turned to beasts. Most of them seemed to be the expected type, very similar to the CBD ganger fledgelings, but several were wearing the ragged clothes of civilians, caught up in the long night, or of survivors perhaps turned later. Despite their desperation, the rush stalled at the barricade of cars across the middle of the bridge. Moral broke quickly under the withering gunfire from the gatehouse on the opposite shore. With the first wave shot down, screaming and crawling, and the high firing angle allowing Ivy’s guards to find targets behind the vehicles, the rave of gangrels splintered, frenzidly fleeing the way they’d came, some leaping or crawling and tumbling, from the sides of the bridge itself.

Saul’s powerful use of Reverie takes him further however. A second Vision forms, of a lean, insane looking man with several beastial features. In the middle of an amphitheatre style nest of debris he whispers and screams in French accented English, exhorting his followers to bring him more victims to turn. He rails agains “Hugo” and “those nazi bastards who stabbed him in the back”, saying that “Ulyana should have chosen me!”, and that “We’ll take back this city in blood!”. Many many feral gangrel surround him, crouched in bestial poses among the piled wreckage. There must be more than a hundred vampires there. The nest itself looks to have been formed within a council park, playground equipment can be seen twisted among the debris. This vision within a vision however isn’t clear enough to give him an exact sense of its location.

Saul straightens. Mind’s Reach has allowed the others to share what he has seen. Instead of returning imediately to the car however he stands in place a moment longer on the Graceville end of the bridge. As the first rays of the Black Sun break through in the east Saul manifests Roots aura, infiltrating seven points through bitumen and steel across the span above muddy river. A ward of his own to let him know if the gangrel ever return.


Seeking Shelter

The guards push the barricade cars away for them.

Leo: “Did you find anything?”

Anthony: “Not much to it. We drove around for a little while…”

Leo: “Better you than me. I wouldn’t want to go over there.”

The Awakened decide to rest at Indro. Peter, a balding ghoul and one of Ivy’s original coteriee, meets them at the top of the access ramp. He asks if they want a dark room for the day. Indicating they have some rooms that are more secure than resting the the general mass of humanity inside.

Saul: “Actually I’ll stay in the car. Want to test out the cardboard.”

Peter: {shocked} “Are you sure? You’re the most casual … I’ve ever seen!”

Showing some sensibility Saul drives the cop car down into the mid levels of the car park where its a bit dimmer before card boarding the windows and settling in for the day.

Belinda heads inside, settling among the general human refugees. Her dreams of finding a luxury department store bed however are dashed. The shops have long been cleared divided among the various survivors, groups and families, etc. Even with the two bus loads of regees gone it still feels crowded. With some persuasion Belinda secures the use of a matress for the day pushed up against a back wall in an out of the way location.

Anthony does similar, but first spends some time wandering the crowds, letting people know the people who left got safely to Enoggera and generally talking up his ‘peace keeping’ group.


Dreams and Waking

They sleep for about seven hours. About an hour before noon (thirteen hours after midnight) Saul (unburnt) faintly in his dreams.

Quentin: “Saul.” “Saul.” “If you can hear me, we need help!”

Saul wakes, but that’s enough to break the tenuous link. Manifesting some aura he raises Domain Dreaming and uses Cries of the World in an attempt to glimpse the situation of his mark bearer (which remains but seems to have lost the aura within it).

He is successful. Saul sees Quentin standing in the midday sun at the end of the Bardon colony street. On the other side of the barricade four huge… men… have gotten off huge Harley motorbikes. These guys are at least seven foot tall and very hairy, with pointed ears, wolfish eyes, and heavy, slightly protruding jaws. They’re packed with muscle, and wearing denim biker jackets.

An older one, slightly grizzled, holds one hand raised and a pump action shot gun levelled at the rooftop sentry who doesn’t seem to know quite what to do with his duck whistle and .22lr rifle.

A younger one, who seems quite unstable, and to be leading the others. He is alternating between yelling across the barricade of cars at Quentin (whose hand is under his jacket), Garry Choi, and some others from the colony, and cajouling Lisa, who is standing to one side with holding her sig assult rifle.

Young Bikie: {to Quentin, Gary, and co} “Move your fucking vehicles! We’ve come to claim what’s ours! Stop trying to get in our fucking way!”

Young Bikie: {turning to Lisa} “Come with us. You don’t belong here. We can Change you, Curtis has shown us the way!”

There we end the session for this week.

Thanks for reading :)


Status

Anthony:

Restive at Release Level 1.
No Malevolence with 1 Aura (invested in a Seed of Life).
Uninjured, with very slight Exhaustion.
Very High Instability:

Human taint at lvl 4 (mind whispers, -1 perception).
Zombie taint at lvl 3 (sunlight draining, -1 perception and movement).
Vampire taint at lvl 2 (sun blisters skin, 1 bashing damage per scene).
Werewolf taint at lvl 2 (is he wearing any silver?)


Belinda:

Restive at Release Level 0.
No Malevolence and No Aura manifest or invested.
Uninjured with a little Exhaustion.
Moderate Instability:

Human taint at lvl 3 (an excuse for erratic behaivior).
Vampire taint at lvl 1 (sunlight seems bright).
Animal taint at lvl 1 (things smell stronger).


Saul:

Intense at Release Level 1
2 Malevolence and 1 Aura invested (nearby) in Domain Dreaming.
Lightly bruising and a little Exhaustion.
Very High Instability:

Human taint at lvl 5 (hard to distinguish what real, -1 all mental and social attributes).
Vampiric taint at lvl 2 (sun blisters skin, bashing damage per scene).
Zombie taint at lvl 2 (“so hungry”).
Note: Sauls taint levels haven’t changed since last session, I just seem to have fucked up that writeup. lvl 5 human is why he’s at intense temptation state too (composure suppressed)


The Tree:

Growth:

Stage four
29 / 50th way to next stage.

Realisation:

Tree 10m tall.
Air and Space surrounds it (15points worth).
Expanse of dark water with swamp roots emerging (15 points worth).

Adaptation:

Celerity complete – quickened interplay shade and branches.
Protean underway – 2 / 10ths progressed.

Reserve:

26 points of Essence
46 points worth of Soul Fragments
10 points of Primal Essence (fishy, and 1 vampiric)
Note: the discrepency in primal essence compared to last session is also my fuckup. I realised the Black Priest should have yeiled one primal essence so I retconned it in.

Sources:

Belinda’s household: 10pts / night (solid, familial).
Samaritan colony: ~30 pts / night (steady, neighborly awe).
Indooroopilly colony: Untested, relationship improved, but numbers reduced.
Enoggera Barracks: Untested, two bus loads of refugees added.


Next Session: BOOM!

View
Session 22
Return and Realization

Ten Minutes into Day 5

Midnight has just passed. Red, gold, and blue stars twinkle. The wind is cold off the lake.

Anthony, Belinda, and Saul stand in the ruins of the Wivanhoe hydroelectricity plant staring up at the two sound canisters bolted into the roof space ten meters above their heads. The canisters are quite large. They seem to have been up there a while, definitely since before the apocalypse as it’s quite a professional setup. Each of the intact canisters contains at least two tons of the glowing yellow goop and has a black, meter long monster embryo floating within it.

The embryos look like big catfish with hand like fins. There is some debate over whether they’re less developed specimens, but Anthony remembers how little of the goop was left over from the broken canisters and the way in which the monsters which got loose seemed to absorb the glowing fluid through their skin. Saul theorizes that the canisters are suppressing the monsters.


Extraction

The trio discuss how they should proceed.

Saul suggests abandoning the Suv and traveling with two people in the Lav as he can’t drive during the day anyway: “And if we run into any issues during the night we got someone on the gun.”

Anthony is keen to take the canisters in the Gwagon: “Just in case the fire guys were looking for them. We don’t want to leave them here.”

Belinda: “That’s fine buy you should probably drive in front then, just in case they get out.”

Anthony: “Oh no! I’ll go behind, so if there is an issue I’m not in front with the breakables!”

Belinda is the most skilled driver. She jumps up on the forklift to figure it out while Anthony digs through the fire guys’ tool kits and Saul equips himself with the dead sergeant’s assault rifle (the one with the under barrel grenade launcher). The army dudes had fired themselves dry but Saul finds spare ammo in the GWagon as they move all the stuff there into the Lav.

Anthony and Saul jump on the forks and Belinda raises them up into the roofspace under the canisters.

Anthony: “Up a bit. Up a bit. Woah!”

With the tines up under the middle of the first canister Saul manifests Roots Aura and uses it to Entangle the canister and forks. Meanwhile, down in the driver’s seat Belinda is estimating leverage and angles trying to decide if this forklift is really meant to be able to carry two tonnes at full extension. Anthony whips off the bolts and the forklift sways as it takes the weight.

Belinda eyes the canister and her two companions swaying ten meters up above her head for a moment. “It’ll be fine,” she decides and starts to lower them down. But the lever is a bit twitchy (single botch). Saul and Anthony clutch for dear life as the forks lurch down. With an effort of Will Belinda smooths the descent instead of bringing them to a hard stop. The canister flexes but does not crack, and she lowers them the rest of the way to the floor.

Anthony and Saul jump off and Belinda goes to load the canister into the GWagon. On another single botch she clips the back of the truck, but with another expenditure of Will manages again to avoid smashing the canister open and gets it safely loaded. Eyes wide she wipes off sweat as she drives back inside to line up the forklift for the next canister. Will depletion is causing her instability to have a larger than normal effect, pushing her up into the Exhilarated Temptation state. She almost wants the next canister to break just so she can fight the inhabitant…

Saul: “Starting to get good at this. Next one will be a peace of cake!” It’s noticeable that he’s standing close the Lav and its big gun.

Belinda raises them up smoothly until the tines are just touching the canister. Anthony starts to loosen the bolts while Saul prepares again to Entangle. But Anthony rounds off the second bolt he comes to (botch). Ten meters up they consider the canister.

Belinda: “Should we just leave it there?”

Anthony: “Toss us up that crowbar over there…”

Saul: “We could just go down, come back up and start again.”

Belinda: “But then I’ve got to raise the forks again.”

Anthony: “On second thoughts take us down.”

Belinda: “I guess it does sound better.”

Saul: “Better than throwing crowbars…”

And so (much to the storyteller’s disappointment) they opt for the safer course, lowering down again and searching for other tools among the electricians’ kits. Anthony leaves the oxy torch, opting instead for a battery operated drill and hacksaw.

Back up against the roof again Anthony drills and cuts the stuborn bolt away before Saul Entangles and the other bolts are undone. Belinda lowers them super smoothely and slides the canister into the back of the GWagon like it was her day job. Both Saul and Belinda make their stamina checks but Anthony fails his. His headache, the first since Awakening, reaches blinding proportions as he takes a level of aggravated damage.

Belinda: “How are you going to drive?”

Anthony: “I’m gonna get rid of my headache.” He draws on the Tree to regenerate the damage.

Belinda: “Ok, so where are we taking these canisters?”

Saul: “Home.”

Belinda: “They’re gonna start wondering where we’re getting these vehicles….”



The Trip Home

Belinda leads the way in the Lav while Anthony follows in the GWagon. She stops halfway up the hill where they’d left the Suv so that they can strip it of gear.

Cartons of food, loot, and other stuff are all transshipped from Suv into Lav. The character’s are careful to remember Evan’s Vampiric Bone Lance and Chainsaw.

As they move off again, Saul, riding in the Lav’s troop compartment sorts over stuff. Examining the uniforms scavenged from the dead army dudes he confirms about half of them had been wearing dog tags (country, service number, initials and last name, religion, blood group). Although the electricians had the same uniform as the others no tags were recovered from their bodies. Having absorbed a lot of their soul fragments (shoot 4) Saul also comes to the realization that the Green tipped, armour piercing, ammunition in the Lav is specifically meant for anti vehicle (anti monster?) roles where as he would have expected Orange, high explosive anti infantry rounds to be more suitable for travel since its a zombie apocalypse after all.

Belinda leads them down through the hills around the lake without incident. The army vehicles navigate the storm debris much more easily than the Suv did. Down near the dam wall they smell wood smoke but there is no sign of light or life from the scattered camps of refugees at this time of night.

Belinda opts to take them the long way around, through burned out Lowood and over the Glamorgan Vale hills rather than smash through the barricades at Fernvale. The two vehicle convoy rolls along through these stretches without incident, but as they turn back onto the Brisbane Valley Highway they come across a caravan overturned in the middle of the road.

There are five or ten people clustered around the wreckage arguing. Up in the gunnery turret Saul raises Spirit Sight, but none of them seem to be zombies supernaturals. As Belinda slows the first of them steps forward to flag her down. She turns off the bitumen and takes the Lav over the roadside fence.

Saul (calling down from the turret): “We’re not stopping? They’re just humans…”

Belinda (aware of her instability): “If they yell at me I’ll kill them all.”

Saul: “We could take a few…”

Belinda: “Driving around in army vehicles we should probably be in uniform.”

Anthony follows the Lav in his GWagon loaded with glowing canisters (having made another stamina check). The army vehicles bump across the open ground without issue. Some of the humans from the caravan wreckage run out into the star lit paddock after them. Saul swings the auto cannon around to point at them, which seems to dissuade most of them. He looks for a loudspeaker switch but can’t find it, and argues instead with the voices in his mind (high human instability from absorbing those soldiers’ shoot fragments).

The crash victims are soon left behind. When they’ve gone a good distance Belinda takes them back up and onto the highway. They pass Ipswitch, which is quieter now in the cold hours before dawn. Anthony succeeds another stamina check as they pass the burned out cars and turn off the highway to cross the river at Mt Crossby.

Retracing their route through the affluent, small acreage suburbs below the southern tip of the D’Agular range forest reserves all seems quiet. These neighborhoods are still deserted, with not even the tingling awareness of zombies on the edge of their Spirit Sense.

Suddenly there is a silent nova of light far ahead. From the direction of the CBD a beam of light ascends. Spreading phoenix wings it arcs away to the north east, descending somewhere. There is the feeling both of the old sun’s golden light and the new sun’s black radiance in the manifestation. It reminds them of the angel which smote the Black Priest’s church. With his years of urban survival Saul reckons its point of impact to be somewhere around Redcliffe. The phoenix apparition itself he estimates would have about a hundred meter wingspan.

Their way is largely unobstructed moving toward the city. As they turn onto Moggil Road Mt Cootha comes into view to the north. Dark wind still spirals out from the vent there. They’re just starting to feel the prickle of life and / or zombie presences on the edge of their awareness when a centipede like creature crawls out onto the road in front of Belinda’s lights. About three meters long it makes its sinusoidal way off into the northern verge of the road as she slows to stare at it. With it gone the convoy moves on.

They bypass the survivor colony at Indooroopilly. Heading north they are crunching through the debris strewn streets of Toowong when they spot a small pack of zombies. All of them are grey and emaciated. One lacks an arm while another is hunched forward and seems to have a longer neck than is humanly possible.

Anthony: “Giraffe zombie… It’s tempting.”

The characters decide not to attack. Belinda switches off the lights and idles the Lav until the zombies wander out of sight. Then they’re on their way again. Anthony passes his last stamina check and they all make it to Bardon without further incident.



Parking

The sentries at the end of Belinda’s street are quite excited to see army vehicles rolling their way, blowing on duck whistles and hailing them down. They seem reluctant to move the barricade vehicles aside first until Belinda pops her head out.

Sentry: “Who are you!?”

Belinda: “I live here.”

Sentry: “Oh Hi! Where’d you get them?”

Belinda: “We… found them… along the way.”

Sentry: “Does that mean you’ve found the army?”

Belinda: “Err… Not yet.”

Anthony: “Oi! Get these cars out the way I need to park this thing!”

When their neighbours jump to clear the way Belinda guides the Lav in between the cars making up the barricades. Anthony actually decides to drive further down, pulling into the street below Belinda’s. Her downhill neighbor had a suitably large garage, once Anthony pulls the useless boat trailer out of the way, so he parks the GWagon in under cover there.

Belinda drives the Light Armoured Vehicle past her house and then turns to slip it up in the space between two of the houses opposite hers on the uphill side of the road. The Lav crunches over the fence, with just enough space to fit between buildings.

Saul: “We should probably cover this up.”

Estimating the Enoggera army base’s search and recovery efforts should be getting around to Bardon any day now Saul fetches some ropes and canvases from the samaritan’s place, making do with blankets and clothes line when he can’t get enough of the first materials. By pre dawn star light he starts stringing a tent like construction between the two houses to shroud the Lav from view.

A crowd of the Belinda’s neighbours gather to help. They seem very curious, but Belinda, who is still pushing the Exhilerated Temptation State puts them off.

Belinda: “It’s been a very long night. I need a rest. I’ll explain tomorrow.”

Saul spends some time covering the tyre tracks in the yard too, and presumably propping up the fence.



Consulting Isobella

Coming up into the house from the backyard Anthony meets Quentin.

Quentin: “I see your hunting was successful.”

Anthony: “Yes, but we can cross Wivanhoe off our list of places. It was contested.”

Quentin: “Is this contestation something we need to worry about here?”

Anthony: “Well, there are some things Isobella may want to see…”

They find Isobella in the basement working with Liam.

Anthony: “We have some energy rich things you might want to see. Don’t break the glass, and don’t eat the goop…”

Down in the neighbor’s garage Isobella seems quite interested when Anthony shows her the two large glowing canisters which take up the back of the truck. She examines them carefully.

Isobella: “Where did you get these?”

Anthony: “Well. We had to see a man about a powerstation, and things came raining down from the heavens. They were stored in the roof, and there was a bit of a situation where one of the canisters broke open. The fish got quite large…”

Isobella tells him that she thinks the canisters are not the work of any vampiric tradition, but may perhaps be from human mages, specifically the Technocracy. She says she wasn’t aware the Prince had any dealings with Technocracy magi but that dealing with such factions is an unavoidable part of global politics.

The company name on the canisters seems to confirm the Technocracy theory for Isobella. On consideration she says that she thinks the occult workings on the canisters are designed to contain and compress the contents within. She’s not sure what the electricity would have been for but definitely wants to do further study.

Anthony indicate she should have a lot of time to do so, that they primarily took the canisters to keep them out of other interested party’s hands. She asks what kind of interest, Mages? Anthony indicates people like himself and the others, Awakened. This makes Isobella very interested but Anthony doesn’t give any details, prevacating a bit about what exactly happened.

Isobella asks him about the vehicles, whether they mean the army was involved. Anthony admits they’ve run into Enoggera barracks troops, (the CBF), and she asks what they’re like.

Anthony: “Let’s just say they like outdoor meals in the day…”

Isobella: “Oh… Oh dear. Well I guess that is to be expected with the infected having come from our thralls.”

She asks if the characters have seen any others of ‘high society’. Anthony tells her of their encounter with Ivy Purcel and Amelia Wright, mentioning that they promised to help some of Ivy’s humans. Isobella says she never knew Ivy very well, but that she and her coterie seemed to be sensible folk who kept to themselves.

Anthony fails a stamina test, taking a lethal damage as his headache returns.

Anthony: “I think I should absent myself. Lets just say some taste testing went wrong.”

Isobella is very interested and gets out of him that he ate some of the goop from a broken canister and has been feeling sick ever since.

Isobella: “There shouldn’t be any poison capable of hurting you from my suppositions.”

Anthony: “It may have something to do with the metal filings…”

Isobella: “Hmm… Maybe we should purge you.”

The pair return to the house where Isobella mixes up a big jug of black, evil smelling liquid, urging Anthony to partake. She indicates she wants to return to the downhill neighbors garage and keep studying the canisters, asking if she can lay wards to keep innocents and the curious away. Anthony agrees.

Anthony: “Good idea. These fish were… significant once they got out. They needed substantial dissuading.”

Left alone Anthony skulls the jug of liquid and heads to the toilet, spending several quality hours resisting the temptation to regenerate against the laxative’s bowl clenching effects.



Unloading and Investigations

While Belinda has gone straight to bed, (removing herself from potential Temptation in her Will depleted state, and Anthony is… otherwise occupied, Saul finishes rigging concealment for the Lav and starts unloading the loot in the hour or two that remain before dawn.

Removing the somewhat limited haul of small arms ammo, camping gear, and rations, Saul ponders that the army dudes couldn’t have been planning to take all five canisters with only the two vehicles they had. They also hadn’t seemed to know exactly where to look.

He notes that radios in Lav, Gwagon, and helmets are all set to the same frequency, which I’m calling channel F56. From the Tree Belinda uses Mind’s Reach to comment that they probably want to keep one of the helmet radios in the house and switched on at all times… I’m pretty sure Saul headed this.

Leaving the Lav locked with the ammo belt detached from the auto cannon and everything as secure as possible Saul stops by the Samaritan’s house to hobnob with some of the people who where helping him or haven’t gone back to bed yet. One of the survivors, an army enthusiast before the apocalypse, recognizes a badge or something from the uniforms as coming from the regiment stationed and Cabarlah Barracks on the Darling Downs, west of Toowoombah.

Calling it a night, with the sun near rising. Saul heads to the shelter of Belinda’s house to sleep.



Waking Pains – Shifting the Cargo

Waking around midday feeling empty, hungry, and still a bit headachy, Anthony heads for the kitchen. He meets his daughter Clara who is looking for some panadol among the cartons of stuff the guys looted a couple of days a go. She’s looking tired and drawn and, when Anthony asks, says she woke up with a bit of a headache too.

Belinda has woken by this stage. Her Will has recovered a little so her Temptation State is lower, but she too has a bit of a headache. Anthony calls a house meeting. With Belinda, Saul, Clara, Clara’s kids, Liam, Quentin, Curtis, and Stix gathered around table he asks.

Anthony: “Anyone feeling under the weather please raise your hand.”

Everyone does. Anthony smiles a bit grimly and ends the meeting. As the others disperse he goes down through the yard to the downhill neighbor’s garage. Bloodwards around the structure recognize him allow entry (not that vampiric wards are able to stop Awakened anway). Backing the GWagon out onto the street Anthony drives it further away, searching until he finds an abandoned house four or five streets over where the owner must have owned a campervan or something else large enough to require an oversized garage. He parks the GWagon under cover, shutting it and the two glowing canisters it carries into the darkness.



Some Time at Home

On this, the fifth day under the new Sun, Anthony and Belinda spend the afternoon training their neighbors in brushhook tactics, and helping the house stripping crew.

They note that Gary has another crew hard at work building a fence to enclose the whole colony, running it along the nearside footpath of the streets above and below their own, as well as to either side. They’re using tin panels by preference, recovered from fences between yards, but the posts are set in earth, and there will be wooden sections etc. The two vehicle barricades at either end of Belinda’s street form the only entrances.

Saul spends the afternoon indoors (vampiric taint). He spends some time considering the feasibility of digging tunnels before heading to his room downstairs. Bringing out the small jar of blood he collected from Isobella he meditates and prepares himself to cast the ritual for summoning a Shadow Servant. First Saul Cloaks himself in shadows and tries to create a Yawning Void. Unfortunately at that moment a football comes crashing through the window knocking open the curtain. Sunlight catches Saul at his most vulnerable. Screaming in agony he stumbles into the hall on fire. Anthony heals him, but Sauls chances of concentrating on rituals again this day are ruined. The kids ran away without trying to retrieve their ball.

Colony Kids: “I think we made him mad!”



Moon rise

The evening passes uneventfully, except that a few hours after sunset the Red Moon rises in the east. The illuminate portion is a bare sliver at first, but over the three or so hours before midnight it waxes to a crescent of brightness as it rises about six degrees from the horizon. On the very edge of the crescent the storm or eye like mark begins to rotate into view.



Midnight at the Tree

The characters make no special effort to listen to the Cries of the World.

A solid flow of Essence comes into the Tree, about eighty points all up, mostly from their neighbors but with some substantial interest from the survivors in the Indooroopilly colony. The reserve is fuller than ever before.

The characters sacrifice Protean to the Tree to start its stage four Adaptation process:

10 successes are required (the threshold value for stage four, ie 1+2+3+4).

Evan had a couple of dots of protean, which he loses, and there were a couple of fragments in the Tree. All up the characters sacrifice 10 Protean experience points.

Eight of the sacrifices are unsuccessful, returning a point of Essence each to the Tree without progressing the Adaptation.

Two of the sacrifices are successful, meaning the Adaptation is now 2/10th of the way to completion.

Absoption:

Anthony aborbs two zombie brawl fragments, successfully crushing the parasytes to gain dot 3 in Brawl.

Assimilation:

Belinda reduces her human Instability by 1, and cultivates dot 3 in Domain Extrospection (Spirit Step).

Saul reduces his vampiric Instability by 1 (to second dot of taint), and cultivates Spirit Step as well.

Anthony reduces his vampiric Instability by 2 and cultivates dot 2 in Domain Introspection (Circulate).

The Tree consumes twenty three Essence to grow. It is now 29/50th of the way toward growth stage five.



The Tree becomes Real

Belinda opts not to try out her new ability to Spirit Step but after some hesitation Saul gives it a go.

He manifests some aura and pushes on the boundary between reality and the Tree. As it gives out he starts to fade from Belinda’s house. Spending some more aura he pushes through to stand before the Tree.

Now up until this point the Tree has had no physical reality. It has existed as a spiritual archetype, a symbol between the character’s minds. When the characters’ consciousnesses ‘go to the Tree’ they are really existing within that archytype. What Saul does now is become the first to set foot in front of the Tree itself.

The domain becomes real. The Tree’s third growth stage effect kicks into play. Essence flows from the Tree to condense into matter as the Tree strives to Realise space for Saul to exist, air for him to breath, a surface for him to stand on. Where does it draw inspiration for this process? Why from Saul’s expectations of course…

The Tree looms into air that is dark and still. Saul stands on mangrove like roots which emerge from the still water of a swamp, extending around where Saul stands for as far as his eye can see (which is not all that far, he’s envisaging dark swampland around himself not an open sunlit plain).

So far thirty points of Essence condense out of the Tree’s reserve to materialize this reality. Saul opts not to ‘explore’ further just at this point, perhaps noticing the shock of the other Awakened as they feel flow of essence and the direction of the Realization process.

Anthony (with his focus on Introspection) gets the feeling that Essence invested into realizing matter and space within the Domain may be recoverable for other uses, but that this would not be a healthy for the Tree itself. Realization is definitely something the Tree is doing, not a power of individual Awakened, although references their expectations.

Considering the space around him Saul discerns that he, the Tree, and perhaps some overlooked zombie soul fragments, are the only living things within the Domain’s space. It is a real, physical existence however, and should be able to support life. He even gets the feeling that if he desired creatures to come into existence the Tree would try to oblige him, materializing essence around spirit nucli (like the zombie fragments) in an effort to achieve life. But of course it should be able to support normal people and creatures as well.

Discussing it over Mind’s Reach Belinda is cautiously optimistic. She suggests that, if necessary they could retreat their followers into the domain. Anthony seems a little more worried.

Anthony: You know canaries? Let’s try some real world creatures first before be bring people here.

Saul: Do we want to bring people in?

Belinda: If things go bad in the real world.

Saul: They might ruin our Tree…

Belinda: Looks at the swamp roots…

Looking back toward the world Saul realizes that he can most easily Spirit Step to the other Awakened, or else to Quentin (who bears his mark). The rest of the world seems rather blurry, even Belinda’s house where he’s been spending so much time lately. He realizes he could use the glimpses he gets from Cries of the World, or Spirit Sight (tracking back Essence flows) to Step, but that that could be much harder. There is the chance that if every awakened and their followers were to enter the Domain physically they could effectively ‘lock’ themselves inside.



That is were we end the session for the week.

The characters immediate plans seem to be getting hold of some buses or trucks and fulfilling their promise to the Indooroopilly survivors to convoy them to Enoggera.

Thanks for reading.

Status

Anthony:

Indulgent at Release Level 1.
No Malevolence with 1 Aura (I think… invested in a Seed of Life?).
Slightly Bruised with slight (relatively) Exhaustion .
Very High Instability with:

Human taint at lvl 4, (mind whispers, -1 perception).
Zombie taint at lvl 3, (sunlight is draining, -1 perception and movement).
Vampire taint at lvl 2, (sun blisters skin, take bashing damage from prolonged exposure).
Werewolf taint at lvl 2, (is he wearing any silver?).


Belinda:

Indulgent at Release Level 0.
No Malevolence and No Aura manifest or invested.
Full Health, but moderate Exhaustion.
Moderate Instability, with:

Human taint at lvl 3, (an excuse for erratic behavior).
Vampire taint at lvl 1, (sunlight seems bright).
Animal taint at lvl 1, (I don’t know, things smell stronger?).


Donald (just in case :)

Indulgent at Release Level 0.
No Malevolence and No Aura manifest or invested.
Full Health and Well Rested.
High Instability with:

Vampire taint at lvl 3, (sunlight burns at 1 bashing per round).
Human taint at lvl 3, (an excuse for erratic behavior).
Zombie taint at lvl 1, (ugh?).
Animal taint at lvl 1, (I don’t know, things smell stronger?).


Evan:

Indulgent at Release Level 0.
No Malevolence and No Aura manifest or invested.
Full Health and Will.
High Instability with:

Zombie taint at lvl 3, (sunlight is draining, -1 perception and movement).
Human taint at lvl 2, (no noticeable effect).
Vampire taint at lvl 2, (sun blisters skin, take bashing damage from prolonged exposure).
Werewolf taint at lvl 1, (the moon is fascinating).


Saul:

Intense! at Release Level 1.
No Malevolence with 1 Aura invested (Quentin’s Mark).
Slightly Injured and moderately Exhausted.
Very High Instability, with:

Human taint at lvl 4, (mind whispers, -1 perception).
Vampire taint at lvl 2, (sun blisters skin, take bashing damage from prolonged exposure).
Zombie taint at lvl 2, (sun glares, -1 to perception).


The Tree:

Growth

Stage Four
29 / 50th toward next stage.

Realisation:

The Tree is physically ten meters tall. (innate realisation)
Air and space around Tree (15 points worth).
Expanse of dark water with swamp roots emerging (15 points worth).

Adaptation:

Celerity complete, (quickened interplay of shade and branches).
Protean underway, (2 / 10ths progressed).

Reserve:

53 points of Essence.
8 points of Primal Essence (fishy!).
42 points worth of Soul Fragments.

Sources:

Belinda’s household, ~10pts per night (solid, familial).
Samaritan colony, ~30 pts per night (steady, neighborly awe).
Indooroopilly colony, ~40 pts per night (transient interest from many people).


hope that helps :)

Next: Convoy

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Session 21
It was a botch... Really.

Near Midnight, Day 4

The Botch

Anthony and Saul desperately try to overrun the Light Armoured Vehicle before the shadow blinded gunner can bring its gun turret to bear.

Meanwhile Belinda holds herself ready by the hydroelectricity plant’s roller door. As the army dudes inside rush for the entrance to rescue their mate Belinda steps forward to unleash a long burst at the first man to cross her sights.

She slips on piece of litter. Reflexively clenching the trigger she empties her uzi’s clip, sending a spray of bullets ricocheting from the concrete floor, off machinery, and up into the recesses of the hanger like shed’s roof. It’s a clean miss on the startled army dude, but doesn’t seem too bad for a triple botch, except for that tinkling of glass from somewhere above…

The army dude that she was shooting at stares at her in shock for a second before dropping to one knee and returning fire, a long burst from his assault rifle. Belinda catches several bullets, blood spraying from her body.

“Get in the vehicle!” The Lieutenant yells at the gunner, obviously aware that his squad are in great danger if these civilian attackers capture the LAV.

Gunner: “I can’t see!”

Lieut: “Jeff. Get in the fucking vehicle!”

Gunner: "I can’t see Sir!

Standing atop the hull Anthony heals himself and manifests more petal fall aura as he chops a quick blow at the gunner with his short brush hook. Seated and half blind the gunner can only try to duck, taking a deep cut to the shoulder.

The gunner tries to scoot down from the turret into the hull of the LAV, but Anthony grabs him and hauls him back out by the scruff of the neck. He’s got heaps of strength now and third level Potence activated as well. Note: That type of reactive grab roll shouldn’t actually be a thing unless its readied, but that’s my mess up – I might change the name of the sticky hands type block maneuver.

Saul manifests more shadow essence and tries to send it to reinforce the shadows smothering the gunner. But he botches, dissipating some of the existing shadows. He tries to climb the side of the lav but slips, “fuck it’s dark out here!”

Just inside the hanger style door of the hydro plant a big piece of curved glass crashes to the ground between the army dudes inside and the characters on the lav. The glass bears smears of glowing yellow goop. One of the army dudes inside the hydro plant looks up toward the roof where the glass fell from, the spot where Belinda’s ricocheting bullets caused a tinkling sound…

Dude: “Sir! Sir… I think we’ve found it!”

He backs away firing his assault riffle up toward the ceiling as a gigantic black mutant fish thing uncurls and lowers itself down before dropping the last few meters to the concrete (you’ve seen The Host you know what I mean). The fish thing lands next to the army dude in the entry way that Belinda exchanged shots with earlier. As it lands it catches the man’s head in one fin / hand and slams him bodily to the ground, crushing his skull like a watermelon.

There are traces of glowing goop all over the mutant fish’s body. To Spirit Sight it seems like a potent magical material. But even as the character’s look at it the goop is absorbed into the gigantic fish thing’s black skin. The fish itself seems like flesh with churning spirits of dynamism bound within, twisting, enlarging, and empowering its form, making it brutal and insane.

The surviving army dudes inside the hydro plant fall back among the machinery, emptying their assault rifles into the monstrous fish thing as they do so. The Lieutenant is screaming and praying:

“Fire Lords help us! We’ve found it! Help us! God’s of the Mountain hear my cry! We need help now!”



Capture!

Screams and gunfire echo from inside the hydro plant as the fish monster charges over to where one of the army dudes is hiding. Its prehensile tail whips forward, dragging the poor man into the open even as the lumbering fish smashes bodily into him. Its jaws extend forward over him in four separate pieces, scissoring closed, cutting off his screams and leaving only blood and a severed arm behind on the concrete.

Back on the Lav Anthony hauls the gunner up in one hand and chops down with his brush hook in the other. The poor, shadow blinded gunner takes another deep wound and it’s enough, combined with the suppressing effect of Saul’s shadows, to make him fall unconcious.

Dropping the gunner down into the cabin of the lav, Anthony takes his place in the gunnery turret. He tries with a quick glance over to work out the controls, and succeeds.

“Just like battlefield four!” He starts the turret turning toward the hanger door. “Belinda! Get the armoured car!”

Belinda races for the GWagon (basically an over sized four wheel drive with a camouflage canvas canopy on the back). Hauling herself up and inside she jumps behind the wheel and starts it up.

From within the hydro plant there are more screams and gun fire. The Lieutenant is still praying to the Fire Lords for help at the top of his lungs. Meanwhile Saul clambers up the hull of the Lav and squeezes past Anthony. He nods in the Lieutenant’s direction as he drops into the Lav’s cabin.

Saul: “This isn’t going to be that angel is it?”

“Nah,” replies Anthony, still bringing the chaingun around into position. “I don’t think so.”

Saul: “It did set fire to a lot of stuff…”

Inside the troop compartment of the Lav Saul crouches over the injured gunner. Laying on hands he tries to devour the man’s soul, but, even though he’s near death, the gunner resists.

Anthony fires a long burst from the autocannon. The whole Lav shakes. Twenty Five millimeter rounds rip through beast and machinery alike. It staggers into one of the generators as Anthony shrugs free of the gunnery seat and drops down inside the cabin of the Lav. “Take over!” he tells Saul, nodding up toward the turret as he lays hand on the dying gunner and rips out the man’s soul, absorbing a fragment of composure as the pieces flow through him into the Tree.



The Fire Lord

Inside the hydro plant a huge a Domain opens, a burning Volcano, from which steps a huge (eight foot tall) stone clad Awakened with Aura burning like glowing veins of magma within its flesh. To Spirit Sight it looks powerful, ariving at Release Level five, with five units of Aura manifest.

The Fire Lord steps between the babbling Lieutenant and the gigantic fish mutant. It’s eyes sweep over the Lav and Belinda in the GWagon.

Belinda (using mind’s reach): I think this is our queue to leave…

Saul: But we haven’t got what we came for.

Belinda: I don’t think bullets will affect that thing?

Anthony: Belinda, what’s in the back of that truck?

She looks over her shoulder but just sees a bunch of green bundles and troop carrier seats. She holds herself ready while inside the Lav the soul torn gunner dies of his wounds. Saul recalls his shadows from the man and climbs up into the gunnery turret. Guided by some shouts from Anthony he tries to work out the controls for the autocannon.

Anthony finishes devouring the gunner’s soul and climbs forward into the Lav’s driver compartment. Taking a seat he tries to work out the controls here, starts the Lav rolling forward away from the hydro plant.

Anthony: Maybe this’ll convince everyone to come out in the open…

Belinda: Should I follow you guys?

Anthony: Be ready to go, just keep us between you and them.

Belinda puts the GWagon in gear and rolls forward into the carpark, about halfway toward the access road gates.

Inside the hydro plant the Fire Lord, Awakened of the Volcano bends to scoop up an oversized handful of concrete from the floor. It throws the boulder sized chunk across the shed into the Mutant Fish. The chunk explodes sending chunks flying everywhere, rattling the roof and causing the Fish to scream horribly. It charges the magma man, smashing him back into the wall and trying unsuccessfully to close its jaws over him while the surviving army guys scatter, firing into its flanks.

Two more streams of glowing goop fall down splattering the concrete on either side of the army dude’s corpse where the fish first fell down. Anthony puts the Lav into reverse creeping back a little bit toward the plant’s hanger style door. In the gunnery turret Saul uses Spirit Sight to watch the fight between Fish and Fire Lord. Steam rises from where the magma man grips the black fleshed fish, wrestling its closing jaws back. Saul studies the connection between the Fire Lord and his Volcanic domain, and between Lord and the Luietenant who called him, a man who does not seem to bear any special mark.

Saul: Want me to start shooting?

Anthony: No, no. Lets keep a low profile now.

Ready to act watch the two gigantic combatants slug it out for another round, idling by the entryway while the army dudes fire desperately from inside the building.

Anthony: I was hoping they’d come outside.

Saul: Think this base is stuffed, and there’s more coming down…

Anthony: Maybe they’ll be smaller… I’m gonna try drag that human corpse in.

Saul: I’ll cover you. Belinda, you want to come take driver’s seat in the Lav?

Belinda reverses the GWagon back alongside and climbs across and into the Armoured Vehicle. Anthony gives her a quick course, “So I learned wheel, pedals, don’t know what this or that does…” and she settles in.

Two more mutant fish drop down in the entryway between the Lav and the fight.

The Fire Lord seems to be marginally winning his struggle with the original monster, holding it in place between banks of generators while his men fire clip after clip of bullets into it. The new fishes’ attention seems drawn by the fight so Anthony climbs out the hatch and jumps (noisily) down from the Lav’s hull.

Belinda: You want me in forward or reverse?

Anthony: Forward.

He holds, one hand on the hull, ready to climb for dear life if either of the new fish turn his way. Saul meanwhile crouches over the autocannon’s controls, ready to let rip. While making sure the Lav is in forward gear Belinda notices an amphibious mode leaver which is pushed fully forward. She leaves it that way.

The magma man smashes the fish with burning fists. The fish’s jaws close over one of his arms cutting it away and heavily injuring him.

Anthony creeps forward to look up and under the hanger style door.

Belinda: Really want to draw their attention?

Anthony: Just want to check the ceiling…

Concentrated gunfire from the remaining army dudes finally starts slowing down the first fish. The two newly emerged fish charge in on either side of the old one. One clambers over machinery to get at the cowering army dudes. The other manages to catch a soldier in its jaws, chomping him down.

Belinda and Saul hold, watching the show as the Fire Lord now struggles against three gigantic fish.

Anthony moves forward to the goop on the floor. He touches the glowing slime with his hand, noting the glitter of metal specks within it. It’s a high grade magical material. Scooping some up he swallows a mouthful of slime, Devouring it internally to convert 2 points of quintessence into Essence that flows into the Tree.

Looking up into the roof space Anthony spots broken lab style canisters each about two meters long with big electricity cables running in. They’ve been mounted to the roof and hidden behind false ceiling panels. He can see some writing on one of the canisters but the curve of glass is broken there.

Anthony: Nothing else here.

Belinda (from the driver’s seat): Are we going in?

Anthony: I’d say those three fish will slaughter everyone else in there soon…

Belinda: We may as well go. Bring the corpse.



Full Metal Fun

In the gunnery turret Saul glances at the four boxes of autocannon ammunition at his feet plus the open box beside the cannon holding the belt of ammo currently fed into the inport. He estimates there should be about two hundred rounds per box.

Saul: Fuck it. I say we open fire! Come back and reload for me.

Anthony: I’ll be back momentarily.

Saul holds down trigger, and keeps it down beginning a round of continuous fire. The whole Lav shakes. The belt fed, chain driven, automatic cannon fills the hydro plant with roar and boom as the incarnate aspect of Roots sweeps devastation across the room.

There is no room for finesse here. Saul sweeps a forty five degree arc over generators, army dudes, machinery, fish monsters, and Fire Lord alike with 25mm rounds firing on full auto at machine gun speed.

The army dude on the left of the fight is torn apart. The fish atop the machinery is mauled but still alive with huge holes punches through its hind quarters and back. The original Fish collapses, taking too many hits even for its spirit enhanced flesh to bear, while the fish on the right takes horrific damage but still seems agile.

The Lieutenant, Fire Lord, and two remaining army dudes all get some shelter from the machinery and Fish Monsters, but the Lieutenant catches either a round or some shrapnel and goes down in a screaming heap. The Fire Lord manages to shrug off most of the metal hitting him and Saul manages to sweep the arc of fire up over one of the last two army dudes but catches the other square in the chest, killing him instantly.

The chain driven auto cannon is still firing. This is the full round continuous fire maneuver. Saul manages to start barrel sweeping back the other way over the field of fire before it reaches Anthony’s position, but the noise is thunderous, there are holes in the walls, and much of the machinery is slagged.

Belinda holds with her foot on the break.

The Fire Lord regenerates, drawing more aura from the Volcano Domain until the veins of magma in his flesh are flaring. He throws himself over the last surviving army dude and begins to fade from reality, Spirit Stepping toward the Volcano with his follower in his arms. Of course Saul is still firing. More slugs and shrapnel slam into the Awakened’s stone like flesh as he does this.

Belinda: Those Fish will target us next.

Saul (still firing): But one of them is down. I think we can do this.

The mauled fish slithers down behind the machinery. Taking more shots as it does so it tramples over the semi corporal Fire Lord and the soldier he’s sheltering. It crawls deeper into the hydro plant, desperate to find shelter from the rounds smashing into it.

The other surviving fish also races away, chunks of flesh flying under the sustained fire. It starts climbing the storage racks in the shadows at the back of the hanger like plant, getting about halfway up toward the roof. Even as he fires on them Saul is watching carefully with Spirit Sight, somewhat reassured when he sees no signs of the fish regenerating.

Under cover of the deafening racket Anthony hoists the corpse he was retrieving up onto one shoulder and races for the corner of the building, (remembering he’s now built and inhumanly strong). He can’t find a switch for the roller doors so heads back toward the side of the Lav.

Anthony: Hey Belinda, start edging backwards. See if you can get inside.

While Anthony spots using Mind’s Reach, Belinda backs the Lav up, managing to crunch it in under the plant’s roller doors with only a little bit of metal crunching involved, (Saul ducks).

In the turret the last couple of rounds on this belt of ammunition whip into the autocannon. Saul pushes the empty box aside and reaches down by his feet to drag on of the remaining four ammo boxes into position. He manages to get it open and work out how to load the first shell on the fresh belt of ammo into positon.

“Hey Fire Guy!” turning the cannon to track the fleeing Fish Monsters. “No hard feelings right!?”

He opens fire again. Another round of continuous thunder as Anthony races for the side of the Lav and climbs in.

Saul: “Burn it all!”

Saul avoids the Fire Lord, instead sweeping a diagonal arc down the length of the hydro plant as Belinda backs them into a central vantage point beside the forklift.

The climbing Fish manages to cling through the first pass as the cannon blows big holes through its body. The slinking fish collapses however, barely able to claw its way forward towards cover. As it tries to move Saul brings the cannon sweeping back over it and it stops moving under the hail of heavy slugs.

Saul: “Smoke em if you got ’em!”

The cannon is chewing up machinery and punching holes through the plant’s back wall as Saul sweeps it back toward the climbing fish. Meanwhile the Fire Lord completes his Spirit Step. Both he and the follower in his arms, who is probably dead of his wounds by now, fade completely from reality as the connection to the Volcano Domain closes.

Saul completes his round of fire, riddling the climbing fish as it tries reach the shadowed ceiling spaces. It stiffens and falls, torn apart by the last few bullets from that belt of ammunition.

Saul: “Boyah!”

Their ears recover to the sound of screams as Anthony, inside the Lav, devours the soul from the corpse of the army dude he recovered. Fragments of electrician craft skill, and shoot flow into the Tree.

Saul reloads. Winding down from the rush he recalls his Shadow aura as Belinda and Anthony emerge from the armoured vehicle.

They have captured the hydro plant, and in the process totaled most of the machinery within.



Delicate Recovery

A tricky bit of soul looting follows. Anthony’s first attempt to Devour the soul of one of the Fish monsters reveals that they are fundamentally different from the humans and human like creatures they’ve encountered so far. These are Spirits magically bound into flesh. They’ve been blended together and pumped through with lots of quintessence but their nature is fundamental Other to the half human Awakened.

Anthony feels that instead of fragments of skill or knowledge he’d be able to pull large, dense, incomprehensible fragments of the Spirit away. But it is difficult. He does not manage it on his first attempt and the Tree is running low on raw essence. The fragments they have stored within are all relatively high value, having been kept aside for later Absorption.

It’s only twenty minutes or so until midnight, but by then they may have lost their chances to Devour as the souls naturally decay after death. Anthony gets Belinda and Saul to use up their remaining aura devouring the souls of the dead army dudes for whom they can find intact enough corpses. That is, the two or three who didn’t get completely eaten or blown to smithereens…

Those souls turn out to yield some pretty nice fragments however… It seems they really were soldiers, perhaps from an engineering corpse as there are a lot of shoot, brawl, and craft (electrician) type fragments. Belinda improves her Wits, passing the rest of the fragments into the Tree. Saul ends up overdrawing and causing a fragment of Occult skill, with partial knowledge of the Abyssal Threads ritual to break down within the Tree. He gets a bunch of good soldierly fragments in return however.

Anthony drops his Potence transformation to allow ‘space’ to activate Domain Dreaming, splitting his consciousness between reality and the Tree so that he can make some hard choices, breaking down zombie strength and brawl fragments to produce enough raw Essence to make further attempts on the Spirit souls within the Fish.



Extracting Primal Essence

Anthony’s attempts to Devour the first Fish finally succeed. Instead of a soul fragment he extracts a dark mass of Primal Essence.

Each lump of Primal Essence is dense with power. Unlike ordinary soul fragments the Awakened can’t (at this stage) see how they could Absorb any knowledge or skill from each piece of Primal Essence. However if they were to use it to Manifest then each point of Primal Essence, which draws just like raw Essence, would create up to 10 points of Aura (with excess being wasted). Using Primal Essence to create Aura will we a usage of Manifest Aura which I’ll add this week.

The Fish screams are truly horrible sounds, and its heavy work but finally the characters finish devouring all three of the monster’s souls. In total I think they channeled 8 units of Primal Essence into the Tree.



Midnight at the Tree

As a story bonus I give 1 experience point in Stealth to each character who snuck up on the Lav while having Stealth skill at dot 1 or less. I think this gives a few of them dot 1 in stealth.

73 points of (normal) Essence flow into the Tree. The character’s closer followers like Stix, Clara, and now Lisa all contribute, as well as a steady flow from the Bardon survivors. The thirty point or so increase is due to the crowds in Ivy’s Indooroopilly colony focusing on the characters as they debate whether or not to join tomorrows promised exodus to the Enoggra army barracks / refugee community.

Either none of the characters listened to the Cries of the World, or none heard anything. I can’t remember. I probably just forgot to prompt, and will try to remind you guys next time.

The characters Assimilate some Essence:

Belinda reduces her human instability by 3.

Anthony reduces his human instability by 1, and cultivates 1 experience point in introspection as well as one point in Aspect of Leaves, which is not enough to gain the next dot in either.

Saul reduces his vampiric instability by 3.

The characters Absorb some fragments:

Belinda increases her Wits and Shoot to excellence (dot 3), and her Awareness to professional levels (dot 2). Her human Instability reaches taint level 3 as a consequence, which doesn’t (seem to) have any real consequences.

Anthony increases his Composure to dot 5! He’s now reaching the human limits for acting with aplomb, (think Ghandi, or maybe an action movie hero). As a consequence though his human Instability has pushed up to the top end of level 4, while his vampire taint at the top of level 2, so he’s hearing whispers on the edge of him mind and getting sunburned real easily.

Saul increases his Presence to dot 2, and his Obtenebration to dot 4, gaining the Shadow Ward ritual in the process. He also pushes his Shoot skill up to dot 4! He’s both hearing voices and burning in daylight again! (“Ah what’s new… Voices / Visions, same shit…”).

The characters break down some of the werewolf gift soul fragments on the basis that if no one has Absorbed them yet its better to convert them to Essence and buffer the more valuable fragments from accidental breakdown.

The Tree consumes 19 points of essence to grow, achieving stage 4.

The players have another opportunity to sacrifice power to the Tree for Adaptation.

They can now assimilate 4 essence per day.

They can achieve release level 4 (and thus use 4th dot powers).

The maximum aura they can manifest is now 10 (1+2+3+4).

The Tree’s growth brought it 6 / 50th of the way toward stage five.



Mundane Scavenging

Anthony makes his first stamina check successfully.

Saul sweeps the concrete floor for spent shell casings from the auto cannon with an eye toward repacking the 25mm rounds himself sometime in the future I think. Out of the four hundred and something rounds fired he collects about 300 empty shell casings which haven’t been lost, driven over, crushed, or mangled too badly.

By looting the bodies, and fragments of bodies, they gain the following:

4x Austeyr assault rifles (clips mostly empty).

1x Austeyr assault rifle with underslung grenade launcher, (empty of bullets but with grenade rounds inside).

5x 9mm handguns (clips full).

2x Army issue body armour.

3x Heavily damaged Army issue body armour.

3x Damaged but fixable Army uniforms (varying insignia).

3x Damaged but fixable Army Issue gear webbing.

4x Army issue Combat Helmets (with pickups).

7x Spare clips for Austeyr assault rifles (mostly empty)

4x Spare rounds for the grenade launcher.

4x Combat Knives.

3x Usable Army issue Boots.

2x Electricians tool boxes, including some Occult multimeter type tools.

Anthony: “We might have to get Isobella to take a look at this…”

1x Personal Journal (a betting book).

1x Light armoured Vehicle and contents.

1x GWagon and contents.

Saul spots the fiber optic video pickup on the Lieutenant’s helmet and squats down to look at it.

Saul: “What you reckon these are?”

Anthony: “Cameras.”

Saul: “Oh well. If you’re watching Fire guy, like I said, no hard feelings…” (he clicks it off)

Belinda: “We should worry about the army…”



Investigations

Belinda notices that the Lav is parked pretty much direcly under the broken canisters. She looks up just as a big shard of glass falls down next to her, splattering her legs with glowing goop. She makes her stamina check.

Saul goes off to look around the office.

Anthony finishes packing the army dudes’ halogen lamps and batterys back into the Lav. He investigates the banks of hydro plant machinery where the men had been working, noting that they’d mainly been taking the covers off things to uncover the insides, possibly looking for those canisters.

Saul finds that the inside of the office has already been ransacked. There’s no power for the computers of course, but the paperwork has been thoroughly searched. Saul notes that the hydro plant seems to have been owned by a company called Endron International. He jots down the names of all the people he can find mentioned in the office papers and on rosters, memos, letters etc, thinking to charge up and carry some mobiles for use as cameras and note pads etc.

Meanwhile, back in the shed, Anthony gets Belinda to drive the forklift while he rides up on the forks (workplace health and safety having died out in the apocalypse) to investigate the canisters bolted to the roof.

Getting closer he notices that, for the first time since Awakening, he’s getting a bit of a headache. He successfully passes another stamina check, finding words on the broken canisters saying ’Property of Panacea Inc", and recognising that name as a company which makes cutting edge mutagenics and anti-cancer drugs, (remembering Anthony spent a lot of time in hospital as a mortal).

He makes another stamina check, feeling his headache worsen, and calls down to Belinda:

“Don’t eat the goop.”

Belinda (laughing): “That’s something you’d tell a two year old…”


There we end our session.

Note: Apologies but I messed up something fairly significant which is why I changed the order of the end bit slightly to end at this point (midnight actually came after this in game). When Anthony investigated the ceiling he should have found the three broken canisters, plus an additional two unbroken ones. I’ll start the next session at this point so that you guys can decide what (if anything) you would like to do with them

Thanks for reading :)

Next – Return and Realization

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Session 20
To Wivenhoe we go

Evening, Day 4

Making Promises

Crowds of survivors have gathered in the food court of the Indooroopilly stronghold to hear the Awakened speak of refuge and safety. Standing a couple of steps up the escalator to the cinema section Ivy Purcell gives a short introduction by candle light:

“Listen up! Got some people here who say they know of a safe place. I know some of you are finding it hard here. Anyone who wants to go can go, and if you want to stay you’re welcome to stay.” She yields the stair to Belinda.

Belinda (in her managerial voice): “We’ll be back at 3am tomorrow. If anyone wants to go to the army barracks they are in place if you wish to seek refuge. Leave your weapons behind for those who stay. The army will confiscate them” She glances at Anthony’s prompting gesture, “Oh yes… We’ll get you there if it’s the last thing we do!”

Anthony (working the crowd in support): “We got in here with uzi’s… Imagine what the next mob could do.”

A big fella steps forward from among the survivors.

“Well we can’t stay here for ever, but what’s their organisation like?”

Belinda: “They’re very structured. They’ve got fences and fortified areas in place…”

Evan (to himself): “It’s the Australian army… pretty shit.” He memorises the big fella’s face.

Big fella (looking around): “Sounds good. I’m in. There’s definitely something wrong about this place.”

Belinda reiterates that anyone who wants to come needs to be ready at 3am the next day. Just as she’s about to step down a elegant looking lady of Indian or Aboriginal appearance blends out of the crowd. Anthony and Saul both have Spirit Sight up and only notice her at the last moment. She’s a vampire. The scarlet veins within her seem weaker than Isobella’s but stronger than the gangers they’ve seen.

Lady: “So who exactly are you people? I don’t believe we’ve been introduced” With heavy inflection on the word ‘introduced’.

Ivy (rolling her eyes): “Ah, Amelia turned up, as she does…”

After searching his memory with his improved intellect Saul uses Mind’s reach to send to the others:

Think I remember Quentin talking about her… She’s a Malkavian, might have been part of Zhou’s harem in the sixties but left. Known to associate with Ivy and the St Lucia rabble, supposed to have had a house in Dutton Park and a studio in West End, part of the music and dance scene.

Anthony: So which side of the fence she on?

Saul: Camarilla.

Anthony aproaches Amelia through the crowd.

“We’re just your friendly neighbourhood peace keepers, passing on a message…”

Amelia: “Is this offer open to everyone?” (again with the heavy emphasis).

Anthony: “Anyone who can stand during the day…”

Amelia: “Oh, and will you be returning after you take our people away?”

Anthony: “We’d be happy to, and say how things go.”

With Amelia satisfied and the big fella interested the meeting wraps up with the crowd talking among themselves. Mingling afterwards Anthony is persuasive, Belinda reassuring, Evan blunt and somewhat disconcerting.



Taking their leave, and some radios

Time’s ticking on and Anthony indicates they’d best be on their way to get some other stuff done. Ivy walks them out, asking if they still plan to go south across the river. Anthony indicates they’ve worked out it’ll be easier to head west first and cross the river upstream. Ivy relieved, reiterating that the area across the river from Indooroopilly is overrun with zombies and packs of feral gangrel.

Saul asks what they’ve done with the contents of the stores they cleared to make living space for the refugees. Ivy indicates it’s all been piled in either basements or carparks. He asks if there are any radios that haven’t been claimed. Ivy’s not sure, but when Evan says there should be some in the security offices she agrees to have a look.

“we’re using the offices ourselves but I can have a look for you.”

She turns up three security guard radios. Pete (the balding ghoul) hands them over, telling them the frequency that they’ve been using to coordinate with the guards at bridge and gates etc.

There’s some discussion about vehicles. Ivy indicates that there are several delivery vans and small trucks in the carparks as well as a semi trailer down near the loading docks which no one knows how to drive. I think the characters make the assumption that Lisa will be able to because she comes from a farm

They go back to their suv. Ivy bidding them farewell.

“Looking forward to working with you all, because this situation only going to get worse…”

With that cheery thought they drive out past the guarded barricade and are on their way.



The Road West

Heading down Moggill road out of Indro they go under the Western Freeway which seems to be choked with an abandoned traffic jam.

Driving down through Chapel Hill and Kenmore the roads are quiet. The suburbs are dark and seem mostly deserted with just the faint prickle of Spirit Sense to indicate there are people, zombies, and / or other things out there. I should also have mentioned that Mt Cootha is still spewing out the alien black wind even when seen from the south side

Miraculously they have no incidents as they travel carefully down through Pinjarra Hills and Anstead. They follow Mount Crosby road through some hills and down to a river crossing, still without incident.

The bridge over the river is intact, but there is enough mud and debris to indicate that the tidal surge reached even this far upstream. There are wheel tracks through the mud ahead of them, but no sign of moving vehicles.

They turn onto the Warrego highway and things look a little more grim. They see the glow of fires and hear sporadic gun fire from the suburbs of Ipswitch to their south. On the highway itself they pass burned out cars in a couple of different locations and evidence of violence several times. Once they pass a crashed car with zombies moving inside, too stupid to let themselves out. Some of the characters are tempted to feed, but Belinda keeps them going:

“We’re kinda on a time limit here…”

Picking their path through the wreckage they continue west until they get to the Brisbane Valley Highway turnoff which they take, heading north toward Wivanhoe. It’s much more rural out here, starting to open up from acreage into small grazing properties. They start to notice clusters of cars and campervans out in the paddocks, sometimes surrounding a farm house, sometimes on their own in the scrub. At this time of night there are no lights or evidence of life. Saul raises an eyebrow at Anthony:

“Seems kinda indefensible…”

Anthony: “No! Don’t eat the refugees.”

They drive on.



The Farmer at the Gates

They keep heading north until, quite some time later, they approach Fernvale, a small town sprawled that straddles the highway. The highway is broad, but as it gets in toward the town someone has posted up signs.

‘Road Closed!’
‘No entry!’
‘No Zombies!’
‘Refugees Fuck Off!’
‘Take your Infected back to the City!’
‘Trespassers will be Shot!’

Before the town itself there barricade of parked cars stretching right across the highway and a good distance off to each side. An old, hard looking farmer type sits up on one of the car roofs with a thermos and a high powered rifle. He squints into the headlights as Belinda brings the suv idling to a stop about ten meters in front of him.

Meanwhile Saul gets some binoculars off of Evan and uses them to look around, activating Spirit Sight as he does so. The farmer looks human, and there’s no sign of other people lying in ambush. He relates this to the others.

Evan: “Fuck him then, lets kill him!”

Belinda (to Evan): “Be nice, next time you start a fight with someone we’re trying to help I’ll chuck you out of the car…”

She dims the lights.

Farmer: “Can’t youse read?”

Saul (winding down his window a bit): “We’re not refugees, and we’re not infected, just looking to pass through.”

Farmer: “That’s what they all say. We’re full and we got no food left for strangers!”

There are no lights in the town itself but the characters can smell woodsmoke in the air. The farmer is continuing to rant.

“We’re sick of people coming in here stealing food and biting people. If you come any closer I’m gonna put one right through your windscreen!”

Anthony: “Did you say biting?”

Farmer: “Yeah! Dunno what wrong in the city but you folk been bringing in biters, and when they bite people those people bite other people. We’ve had to do some horrible things to get it under control and we don’t want more coming in!”

Saul: “So how do we get around your little town?”

Farmer: “Go back south, then west to Glamorgan Vale.”

Saul: “Seen anything from the army?”

Farmer: “Yeah heard there been some up around the dam, but they’re fucking useless. We gotta help ourselves.”

Anthony: Well the country army may be useless, but the city are up to it. Got food and supplies for ten thousand people. They’ve got tanks and vehicles too. “

Farmer: “Yeah? What’s it like in there. We’ve heard some bad things bout Ipswitch.”

Evan (snorting): “That’s because it’s Ipswitch…”

Anthony tells the farmer they drove safely past Ipswitch and out of the city using the Mount Crosby way. The farmer starts to warm to them a bit. He gets their names, tells them his is Daren. Still not willing to let them through the town, but warns them to beware of the other people who’ve been turned back and are hanging around. He says they’ve got the sick among them and are fast running out of food. There was also some mention of the volcanic glow to the west, but I can’t quite remember what it was.

The characters bid farmer Daren good luck and turn around. They drive south again, leaving him to his lonely vigil, bright stars burning red, and gold, and blue above.



Detour & the Dam Wall

Retracing their route no one jumps out at them. They pass the clusters of cars and camper vans again without stopping, until they get to the Glamorgan Vale turnoff. Heading north west they pass through some pleasant hills, about a hour’s careful drive.

Coming down the other side however they see fires. Lowood township is smoldering ruin, filling the air with the smells of burnt plastics, paint, and flesh. At the intersection before the township their route turns. They turn with it. Leaving Lowood behind they follow the Brisbane river north and east until they can pick up the Brisbane Valley Highway again, but to the north of Fernvale this time.

A short drive without incident brings them across the river (now much smaller) and through some crop land (withered) to the dam wall itself. The road runs across the top of the wall. Approaching it they see more clusters of vehicles and tents huddled in the recreational areas.

The dam itself is satisfyingly big. There is water flowing down the spill way but no hydroelectricity plant. Belinda stops in the middle of the wall. Everyone looks at Anthony, then at Evan who remembers somehow, even though he’s a southerner, that the hydro plant is on the eastern side of Wivenhoe, between the main reservoir and another dam higher in the hills.

Belinda turns the car around again.



The Hydro Plant

They find the road that winds around the east side of Wivenhoe without incident. It’s getting late into the evening but the stars are not yet at their midnight positions. The road winds up into some hills. There are less crash sites and stranded cars here, but still a fair degree of storm damage.

After a half hour or so they pass a substation with massive pylons stretching east from it, presumably toward Brisbane in the distance. It doesn’t seem to be powered

The road winds around beneath the wall (still intact) of a dam higher in the hills and then they find the turn off into the sharp, horse shoe shaped valley in which the hydro plant is situated.

The roadway in switches down over the southern arm and into the valley in some sharp hairpin turns. There are moderate sized gum trees and dry scrub covering the flanks. Belinda takes it carefully. Below them the hydro plant comes into sight. It’s basically a massive shed, has been built out over the lake water in the pocket made by the horse shoe valley.

Harsh halogen lighting glares off the front of the hydro plant. Portable stands have been set up to shine in through the plant’s hanger style doors, beyond them, in the carpark an army GWagon and Light Armoured Vehicle are parked across entryway. In the turret of the LAV a man in army camouflage uniform and combat helmet sits, manning its 25mm chain gun.

“Kill the lights,” says Saul urgently.

Belinda flicks her headlights off, brings her suv to a stop. They sit, scrub quiet around them, and look down the slope at the activity below.

A couple of minutes are enough to convince them that somehow the man in the turret did not notice their approach. Using the binoculars Saul observes four or five men, also in army uniforms, going in and out of the shed. One of them leans up against the wall taking a break and talking to the guard on the turret while he smokes a cigarette.

Belinda: “I think it might be time to name drop. They did say they were forming a militia.”

Saul: “They’re probably in communication…”

Belinda: “But Enoggra didn’t know about the dam.”

Saul: “Those were just low grunts.”

Anthony: “Can’t hurt to ask if they’re trying to power the city. Worst they can do is shoot at us, at which point we’ll deal with them.”

Belinda: “They might even have a medic…”

Saul (suddenly eager): “To devour?”

Belinda: “Well… we’ll ask questions first…”



Shenanigans

“Might go on from foot here hey,” suggests Anthony.

Belinda pulls the car up and everyone piles out, taking their usual equipment except for Evan. Evan takes his uzi, kukri, machete, and scope but leaves his bone lance, shotgun, and chainsaw in the car. They start walking quietly down the road. Belinda (botch) steps on a stick and shrieks reflexively thinking it’s a snake. She turns back.

“Maybe I should stay in the car…”

Saul manifests his cloak of shadows, while Evan turns out to be pretty heavy footed too.

Anthony: “Maybe just two of use should go forward?”

Evan: “What?”

Saul: “Don’t fuck us up.”

Evan: “Alright… I was trying to get the hang of this with a sheet.”

He returns to the car to wait while Anthony and Saul slip forward down the inner side of the roadway. They split up as they approach the outer edge of the parking lot. Then Saul actually steps on a snake! It hurts! He spends a will trying to muffle his shriek but ends up crying out anyway.

Smoking dude (on other side of the car park): “Did you hear that?”

The dude in the chain gun turret picks up a pair of bulky binoculars.

Anthony drops: Get down! Night vision!

Saul dives into the roadside gutter behind some bins, pulling the snake free from his leg and cutting off its head with his combat knife as he does so. Anthony ducks behind a tree, snapping a branch as he does so.

Gunner: “Hey lieutenant get the light. Not sure, but I think we got something!”

Someone turns one of the halogens and light sweeps out. Saul’s Shadow Cloak steams but covers him as he lies flat, leg throbbing. The gunner steers his turret around until the chaingun points at Anthony’s tree.

“Hey you! Get out from there!”

The rest of the army have taken positions using the vehicles for cover. With five assault rifles and a 25mm chaingun pointed his way Anthony steps out from behind the tree.

Evan: Should we go help?

Anthony: Maybe just edge forward a bit.

Belinda puts the car in neutral and starts rolling down the slope. Luckily the wheel doesn’t lock and the brakes keep working. In front of the hydro building the lieutenant steps forward, seeing that Anthony is only armed with a brush hook.

“What the hell are you doing here?”

One of the other army dudes yells as he spots the car on the road above.

Anthony: “Tried to get through Fernvale but they turned us away. Now we’re on back roads in the middle of nowhere. There’s people biting people out there. My wife’s the one in the car.”

Lieutenant (squinting at Anthony’s body armour): “Where’d you get that shit you’re wearing?”

Anthony (without missing a beat): “Used to have a prepper friend. Stuff in the basement.”

Lieutenant: “Well we can’t help you, but if you can get to Enoggra the barracks there is still up. Don’t go north. Don’t go west. It’s all brown”

He reiterates that his squad have a job to do and can’t afford to be diverted helping civilians, but seems willing to let Anthony go, even wishing him luck. Anthony asks what they’re doing and the Lieutenant indicates they’re trying to get the power supply working again, which Anthony piously agrees would be a very good thing.

Anthony: So we just gonna let them do their jobs?

Saul: Well, we’re not really in a good position…

With her motor on now Belinda flashes her headlights on as she rolls through the gates, giving Evan a chance to dive into the back and hide, and trying to give Saul enough time to retreat into the scrub. But Saul, distracted and in pain from his snake bite botches the timing and keeps lying where he is on far edge of the parking lot.

Anthony: “You wouldn’t happen to have an auto electrician here would you?”

The Lieutenant gives him a bit of a funny look. I think Anthony might have sensed that the man’s credulity was running a bit thin and took the opportunity to get in the car and get them turned around. They have to leave Saul lying, snake bit, in the ditch as the halogen lamp is still spilling light over his position.

Saul watches the army men stare up the hill at the receding vehicle. When it’s up and around the arm of the ridge the Lieutenant stirs.

“Well get back too it. We gotta find that shit and get outa here before daybreak.”

Through Mind’s Reach Saul relays what he just heard to the others.

Anthony: Well. That doesn’t sound like people trying to get power back to the city…

Saul: Unless they’re looking for the switch. Don’t know how these things work but there’s only one guy outside now…

Belinda pulls up.



Attack! Attack! Attack!

Anthony gets back out of the car and starts sneaking back down the hill, cutting down the slope and around the roadway this time, careful for lose rocks and snakes. He manifests Petal Fall aura as he does so.

Belinda turns the car around and pulls up at the corner. She and Evan get out and start climbing down the side of the ridge toward the lakes edge. Evan manifests Heartwood aura, spending some of it to gain Fortitude and Chitinous Skin (his Gift of Metis), but leaving enough that his Greenwood Flesh transformation is at level two.

In his ditch Saul manifests as much Shadow Cloak aura as he can manage. The gunner looks more attentive than before, but still doesn’t seem as though he’s genuinely expecting trouble. Saul starts crawling toward him, down the gutter on the western side of the parking lot.

Anthony meanwhile has snuck around through the scrub to the east of the hydro plant. He gets to within a short sprint of the light armoured vehicle and waits, ready to attack.

Belinda and Evan make it to the waterline without mishap. They start clambering carefully and quietly toward the hydro plant aiming for a ramp up from the waterline which will bring them out near the vehicles.

Inside the hydro plant the squad of army men are still moving stuff around and talking to each other. Inching forward Saul brushes a rock, causing it to fall and attracting the attention of the gunner, but Saul’s Shadow Cloak saves him as the gunner’s gaze sweeps over his position and up the bank behind him.

Evan draws on the Tree to manifest some Shadow Cloak aura of his own, for the first time ever!

He and Belinda crawl closer up the rampway. Belinda pops her head up a little too far, momentarily skylining herself. This time the gunner gaze is a bit more keen.

Belinda: Run in now!

Gunner: “Hey, what? Alert! Alert!”

The gunner starts his chain gun turret swinging toward the ramp, sweeping over Saul’s position as he does so.

Anthony dumps some of his aura into activating Potence and Celerity. He breaks from the shrubbery sprinting across the roadway as the gunner rotates away from his direction, managing to clamber up onto the front of the light armoured vehicle, but not to get close enough to swing his brush hook.

Saul rises to sprint across the tarmac toward the lav. He sends his shadows sweeping up ahead of him in an attempt to Smother the gunner before he can open fire. Seated as he is the gunner can only duck rather than fully dodge. The shadows cling to him, obscuring his vision and sapping his stamina.

Evan dashes over to the carpark side of the lav, hiding under the vee of the hull itself. With a wheel between him and the army guys inside the hydro plant he holds further action.

Belinda races over to the corner of the hanger style entrance into the hydro plant. She readies her uzi with the idea of firing a burst into the first of the army dudes inside to cross her sights.

The gunner turns away from the chaingun’s controls, firing a hand gun at the dimly seen figure of Anthony climbing the vehicle’s bow. Anthony takes a bullet to the chest and keeps on coming. He cuts at the gunner’s head with his brush hook, unfortunately missing with his uneven footing on the hull of the lav.

Saul sends more of his shadow cloak out to smother the gunner, increasing the effect on the gunner to level two. But the gunner turns out to have above average stamina, remaining conscious, although weaker and with his vision more heavily shadowed.

Evan keeps sheltering behind the lav, and Belinda waits. Most of the army dudes scatter, running for cover as they advance, but one of the electricians races forward incautiously into Belinda’s line of sight. She pulls the trigger of her uzi and…

Triple Botch!

There we end the session for this week as I need time to think of something suitable :)

Thanks for reading.

Next – It was a Botch… Really

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Info Dump 2
The Wolves of Beerburrum

This page details information Saul got in Session 19 by asking Lisa (wife of Dave the pig hunting guide werewolf) about the wolves of Beerburrum. Remember this is information about the situation pre-apocalypse.

She said the Glass House Boys actually consists of three packs. A lot of them are bikers and they hang around a pub called Gagargen which is north of Beerburrum. Apparently it was started by the Baker family, but over the last generation has taken in more drifters and exiles from the Lunatics. The Glass House Boys pay at least lip service to Mother Gaia but Lisa says Dave was dubious as to their actual dedication.

Here is what she knows from rumors and gossip:



The Old Leaders

The Headless Giant:

Prime Totem – A very powerful spirit of the land which rarely moves. Known to grant gifts of Nature, Rage, Might, and Death.

Frank O’Kelly

Leader of all wolves in the area. About fifty years old with strong Rage and Primal Urge, but not yet unworldly. He was originally a drifter, but a long time friend of James Baker. He took over the position when James started becoming unworldly and now runs the Gagargen Pub where most of the local bikies and wolves hang out.

James Baker

About seventy years old, his Rage is weakening but Primal Urge has become so strong he as to make him somewhat unworldly. Used to be leader of all local wolves, now walks the Glass House Mountains. Can still be found at Gagargen most afternoons.

Alex Hall

About forty. A Baker on his mother’s side, but his father was a Lunatic. Grew up south of the border and returned about ten years ago. Strong Rage and Primal Urge. Very loyal to Frank O’Kelly. Alex acts as Frank’s enforcer if necessary. He can easily cow the leaders of the other two packs.


The Main Pack

Totem – One Eyed Cat

A somewhat weak but approachable urban spirit. Blesses most of the gatherings when the Headless Giant doesn’t deign to move / appear. Known to grant gifts of Evasion, Insight, Might, and Stealth.

Garret Rankin

Leader of the main pack. Young, he took over main pack leadership from Andrew Baker by mutual acknowledgement of relative strength. Subordinate to the old leaders, he gets along in uneasy comradery with Larry Banik despite others’ speculation on who would win in a fight. Strong Rage and Primal Urge. He’s channeled most of his energy into living a (relatively) normal life. A local boy who must have had some old family blood he married a mortal woman and works as a paramedic. He rides with the others, but isn’t much into the organised crime side. He has a big house in the north west of Caboolture. It is common form many wolves and kin to crash and hang out there. He has a big family and most of them are in on the secret of the pack. Dave and Lisa have been to his house for barbecues and gatherings.

Calvin White

A bar tender at the Gagargen. Second in the main pack. A local boy, married to Jame’s granddaughter, (Bailey White), he’s been pushing to become leader of the main pack. Rumor has him behind several incidents and dramas etc. He’s a dedicated bikie, controlling much of the flow of drugs, etc north of Brisbane, and having contacts with the Lunatics and mortal gangs etc. Despite his obvious desire to take over he’s never quite dared directly challenge Garret. He has had the shit beaten out of him by Larry Banik a few times. Calvin and Dave were good mates. Lisa never quite understood that but assumes it’s because they grew up in the same circles.

Andrew Baker

Eldest of the surviving Baker boys. He was wild in his youth but has settled down now. He has a concreting business and large family up in Caloundra. He rides with the pack on weekends, acknowledging that he’s been surpassed in strength by both Garret and Calvin.

Bailey White

One of the rare women who survive the change. Bailey is the granddaughter of James Baker and married Calvin White. Given the macho cultural bias of werewolves however she holds her rank as forth in the main pack on the strength of her Rage and Primal Urge.
She rides with the men and has won several challenge fights. She has three children, none of whom show signs of turning (yet). Used to be friendly with Lisa, talking to her whenever Dave and Lisa attended a pack event as guests and bringing her kids out to the property a few times a year.

Tod Neives

Nephew, or maybe nephew-in-law, of Andrew Baker. Moderate Rage and Primal Urge he works as a concreter for his uncle and rides with the boys on the weekends. Rumor has it he’s been getting deeper into the crime side of things recently.

Ethan Baker

Young, he has moderate Rage, but a weak Primal Urge. He’s eager both to get into the organised crime side of things and to step up in the pack. Has challenged, and had the shit beaten out of him by Bailey White a couple of times in the last year. Works as a delivery driver around Caboolture and the coast.

Grace Erkens

A local girl from Maroochydore. Turned unexpectedly a couple of months before the apocalypse. She had been a married school teacher, but lost both job and spouse soon after her first change. She was now living in north Caboolture under the watchful eye of Garret Rankin and his family. Said to be unhappy and unstable.


Banik’s Security Firm

Totem – Crow

A crow spirit of moderate strength. Banik’s people are very tight lipped about what gifts it grants, but odds are on Knowledge, Death, and Insight.

Larry Banik

Leader of his pack. Nominally falls after Garret Rankin in the overall scheme of things, but the two have never fought. There is much gossip about who would win, especially as Banik has beaten the shit out of Calvin White a few times (at White’s instigation). Banik has strong Rage and Primal Urge. He runs a boxing gym and security company with about ten employees, about half of which are wolves (the only ones Lisa knows by name). Banik takes direction from, and will often lend his men to, Alex Hall on issues of external pack security. He does not interfere on internal issues of main pack discipline however, referring people to Garret. Banik was originally a lone wolf of unknown origins. Frank O’Kelly brought him into the area about ten years ago. He rides on occasion, but isn’t (known to be) involved in the organised crime side of things.

Phil Neives

A local boy from a family of kin, raised in the traditions. He split from the main pack to follow Larry Banik, becoming his second in both the pack of the crow and Banik’s security firm. Phil has strong Rage but only moderate Primal Urge. He rarely rides.

Jake Baker

Another local boy who split from the main pack to follow Banik. He has strong Rage but weak Primal Urge, and competes in boxing at a semi professional level. He hardly ever rides with the other Glass House Boys, but is said to be courting one of Andrew Baker’s mortal daughters (despite the same last name their closest kin tie is about third cousin).

Doug Mori

An older wolf and an outsider. Banik brought him into the area. He seems to have weak Rage but very strong Primal Urge. Rumored to be unworldly. Lisa doesn’t know much else about him.

Ivan Carter

A local, but not from a family of known kin. He turned about a year ago and seemed to want to try a bit too hard to carve himself a position in the main pack. After causing trouble, and getting the shit beaten out of him, for the umpteenth time Garret effectively asked Banik to take him on which he did, saving Ivan from having to undergo trial by the mountain spirits. Ivan would out there riding and drug dealing every day if Banik would let him. Rumor has it however that he’s kept on a very short leash.



The Baker Clan

Description:

A big sprawling clan of mortal families in the area, many of whom are wolf kin. There are lots of branches of this family, especially around Caboolture, Burpengary, and Beerburrum. Lisa has just mentioned some of the major personalities.

Old Ma’am Baker

The grandmother / matriarch of the clan. Mortal but half blind and rumored to have the second sight. Knows full well about the wolves and is shown respect even by people like Andrew Baker, Garret Rankin, and Larry Banik. She’s treated as an equal by James Baker.

Amanda Neives

A Baker by birth, married to Phil Neives (of the Crow pack). She knows of pack buisness, and is a friend of both Lisa and Bailey White.

Tomas Baker

A mortal middle aged man who is high up in the Caboolture police force and acts as liaison for pack business. Said to make a lot of money from kickbacks.


The Neives clan

Description

Another old and sprawling family of kin folk from the area, distinct from but highly intermarried with the Bakers.

Samuel Neives

An old pineapple farmer, patriarch of the Neives’s. He never turned himself, but is said to be beloved of the Headless Giant. Owns a big property out the back of the Glass House Mountains where many kin folk and wolves go for sunday dinners, etc. He’s an old crony of James and Frank.

Samatha Baker

Married to Andrew Baker (ex leader of the main pack) and thus has quite a high standing in the area. Helps run the concreting business, and is said to hate anything to do with werewolves and organised crime. Lisa only met her once, they didn’t get along.

Simon Neives

A mortal. Local Councillor and business man who’s on the take from the Glass House Boys. He has high prestige among the local mortal community.



Lone Wolves

Description

Technically not part of the packs, Lisa knows of a couple of other notable wolves from the greater area.

Bryan Amis

A local lad who turned half a year ago, but who absolutely refuses to join the main pack. He works as a kitchen hand and is said to be unstable. Before the apocalypse there was a rumor that he would soon be put down.

Old Sam

Half legend, an old feral wolf who lurks in the state forests. He’s rumored to roam mainly up around Kenilworth and to be a Vietnam War veteran. There is also a rumor that he’s been cursed by the spirits, that his Rage and Primal Urge have been crippled until he hunts enough wyrm spirits to achieve redemption. James Baker declared him untouchable many years ago, and the declaration was reiterated by Frank O’Kelly when he took overall leadership. It is whispered that the declaration was at the direct bidding of the Headless Giant.



Next – To Wivanhoe we go

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Session 19
Meetings and Greetings

Added a slight correction that when they were throwing debris off the Kelvin Grove to New Market bridge last session they should have heard them splashing into water below. The creek seemed to have risen two to three meters in the time they spent at Chandra Ultavi’s place.

Having done that we fast forward to the character’s driving away from a student apartment block on the north edge of Kelvin Grove, having found zombies but no sign of Mrs Nagey.

Belinda decides to take them up the hill, past where they saw the scavengers earlier rather than risk going through new territory. On the way through the intersection Saul spots a watcher on the roof which his hand to his ear as if talking into a phone or walkie talkie or something. Belinda speeds up as much as she can, but the debris and stuff on the road makes it harder to maintain speed. She slows rather than risk an accident, and there is no sign of pursuit.

About half way through Paddington her caution pays off. A bloody zombie carrying a dismembered arm lurches out into the road ahead. Belinda runs it down. The others are fairly chill, no one suggests they stop.

In the back seat Saul considers the rituals he just learned by Absorbing fragments left from the Black Priest’s soul. To summon a Shadow Servant he needs a quantity of low grade, entropy aligned magical material to use as ink. Vampire blood will do. Saul muses about using a pint from Isobella, “She owes us one.”



Home Safe

About three hours before dawn the characters slow down at the entrance to Belinda’s street. It looks like their neighbours have been busy. This end is now blockaded with cars in similar fashion to how Evan closed the other end the day before. The sentry gets in one, starts it and backs it aside to make space for Belinda to drive their SUV through.

Inside there are now many more cars lining the street. The front yard on one side of the good samaritan house is piled with solar panels, sheets of tin and fencing materials. The yard on the other side has partially dismantled cars, tools, and other durable supplies.



An Interview with Isobella

The character’s pull up outside Belinda’s house. Anthony is keen to talk to Isobella quickly so they can use the last couple of hours of the night, so While Saul, Belinda, and Evan unload Chandra’s solar panels and batteries etc, Anthony heads inside.

Quentin is awake in the kitchen, not being on guard so much as making sure someone in the house is awake and aware. He tells Anthony that Isobella woke, but that she is still weak after prolonged exposure to the rent, and goes with him downstairs to talk to her.

Isobella answers their knock, she’s sitting up in bed looking weak. She thanks Anthony for saving her, asking if the rent is still open. He says it is and she looks concerned, asks how things are in the world outside. Anthony says its not good out there, mentions that they just came back from Ultavi’s house, and that the rent there is sealed, but Ultavi seems to have hidden within it. Isobella is surprised to hear there was a rent there at all (“I’ve been to her house…”). She says Ultavi does come from a strange bloodline, indian necromancers who turned to vamperism.

Isobella seems concerned about the approaching dawn, asking if the room is secure. Anthony reasures her it is secure here in the basement, and “You’re welcome to have Quentin tell people they come down here on pain of bullets.”

He mentions Isobella’s weakness. She says it is from exposure to the rent after being drained. I’m sure in here she mentions it was Garouche who got her, but she indicates she should recover in a few days, “with Quentin and Curtis’s assistance”. She says she could recover quickly if could get some ritual materials with which to resummon her familiar. Anthony mentions that her house was trashed, but if she wants to draw up a list of materials they can take Quentin or Liam over to pick some up. Isobella thanks him and asks after Erin, seeming remorseful at having left her behind during the attack. Anthony says they’d glimpsed her hunting in the valley. Isobella, “well she seemed a capable girl, she should be fine.”

Isobella asks how secure the location in general is, saying she’s heard from Qeuintin that its a regular suburban street. Anthony may have muttered under his breath about paranoid vampires, but mentions they’ve been meaning to check out the army barracks at Enogra. She interested, asks if any vampire stronghold survived, mentioning the Prince’s mansions in Hamilton and Balmoral, and his training facility in Tingalpa. When told the Prince’s Hamilton mansion is trashed (A: “you mean the one with all the smoke and sirens and explosions…”), she mentions that the senior members of the Court of Brisbane have a few drop points where they can leave messages for each other, especially if on the run, in the CBD, Toowong, and at the Airport. Anthony mentions that blood brothers are in control of the city. She says they’re bad news, Blud Oth, a gang of neo-nazi vampries from Melbourne who serve the Sabbat, that there will be six of them but you’ll only see one or two of them at a time, and that you have to kill them all to get rid of them.

Anthony: “Oh but in good news the Black Priest is dead…” Isobella is amazed and delighted. Anthony, and Evan (who has come downstairs) are casual. “He had an accident with a machete”

Even asks Isebella if she could examine the bone lance that he got from the Black Priest’s church. She agrees, and while Evan goes to get it Anthony goes upstairs to get ready for a quick trip out again before dawn.

Saul pops his head in: “G’day, just letting you know I’ll need some of your blood soon, a cup or so will do.” Isobella looks at him worried like, “You’re not… hungry are you?” Saul assures her it’s for something else and she hesitantly agrees.

When Evan returns with the lance Isobella is horrified, shrinking away as he waves it near her. She says it’s definitely a Tsmicie item, made from powerful vampire bones. She says it’s evil, mentions a vampire taboo called diablore and that the lance may possibly made from the Prince of Zhou’s remains. She seems to be scared of the lance, advising Evan to put it away “wrapped in silk and salt” until she’s stronger and can deal with it properly. Evan agrees, telling her he’ll put it in the garden shed.



Return to Isobella’s

Anthony is keen for a quick trip before dawn. Saul stops Evan on the way out into the garden, “where you going with that?”

Evan: “She said should hide it.”

Saul: “You could keep it in the car.”

Evan: “Guess I’ll keep it with me then, seems like it’ll do damage to vampires.”

Anthony: “Because it’s a big stick…”

Evan: “But one possibly carved from the Prince…”

The climb back in the car with about two hours left before the black sun will rise for the fourth time. The moon is still absent from the sky. Anthony drives this time, while Belinda tries to use Domain Dreaming to split her conciousness between Tree and real world in an effort to sense how Lisa is going. She’s unsuccessful but builds up to Release Level two as they head north toward Enoggra.

Driving out of Bardon they get the familiar prickling of their spirit sense that warns of zombies out among the quiet houses, but as they go down over Ithica creek and up the hill toward Waterworks road it gets quiet again. Approaching Waterworks road they see backhoes parked among the rubble where they’ve been tearing down houses on the south side of the road. Event style chain link fencing has been errected on the north side of Waterworks road and there is an light armoured vehicle sitting square across the intersection ahead.

Anthony slows to a halt. The chaingun turret of the LAV is not pointed in their direction, but there is a man in camouflage gear sitting in the gunnery position, looking their way. Another man, also in camouflage but carrying a torch walks around the side of the LAV and waves them forward.

Inside the SUV Anthony, Saul, and Belinda rais Spirit Sight. Both of the army dudes seem to be human. Anthony idles drives carefully up to where the torch bearer beckons and pulls up. He wind’s down the window, “Well… It’s been a rough few days…”

The army man starts a spiel, but, sweeping his torch light across the interior of the SUV spots the the characters uzi’s, shotguns, and body armour. “Err… Are you seeking refuge?”

Anthony: “Oh thank god. Are you saying the army is still going?”

Army dude: Yeah… but what the hell?!?"

Evan (without missing a beat): “We’re doomsday preppers.”

That seems to break the ice with the army dude, whose name turns out to be Andy. While his mate up in the LAC turret keeps watch over the area he talks to the characters. Confirming that the Enoggra barracks is taking in refugees, but warning them that they would have to give up there guns, and that the base isn’t taking in anyone who has “been bitten”.

Andy proves quite friendly, seems to be impressed with the character’s apparent self reliance, especially when the characters say they’re familiar the infected, (there are both bullet holes in, and blood splattered over the SUV). He says the base has pushed out to the main roads on all sides and that ‘the commander’ has ordered the demolition of the houses on the far sides to open out a killing field in case of zombie attack.

He says the base is well armed, equipped, and supplied, “Even got our own reservoir for water!” He admits that they’re out of contact with the government, or even their superiors in the armed forces. “It’s like they were all the first to get sick.” He says the chaos of the long night was rough, “but the Commander stood up and pulled us all together. He even dragged in some units from Amberly, and he’s got us operating as the Combined Brisbane Forces.”

Evan chuckles: “The Can’t Be Fucked?”

Andy doesn’t seem offended. He encourages them to join up and tells them the Commander (Colonel Kirby) has plans to train up a militia of volunteers. Andy seems to think the characters would do well in it. He doesn’t seem to think much of the average refugee they’ve been getting, but says if the characters join they’d be able to get issued guns again. With just a couple of days of training he reckons they’d and be able to join in Search and Recovery efforts (which sound suspiciously like looting).

He asks them where they’re from and Anthony tells him Samford Valley, says the characters had heard a rumour that the Enoggra base was operational and are checking it out for a larger group of survivors. Andy seems impressed, but warns them they’d have to get their people here soon. After reorganising the CBF have only just started clearing and evacuating the suburbs immediately around the base and they’ve got refugees pouring in. He seems to think the base can hold about ten thousand people (it is huge), but says that with three thousand personnel on site and two thousand refugees received already it’ll probably only be a couple of days before the Commander cuts off the intake, “And once the gates are closed that’ll be it!”

Anthony tells Andy they should be back in a day or so with their people, says its madness out there, mentions meeting some weird folk out toward Kelvin Grove. Andy gives them an assessing look. He advises them to stay away from the city.

“Few some sorties over the riots in the long night. The things we seen… They’re not human…”

He reassures that characters that the Commander is determined to screen and kill out any blood suckers who try to sneak into Enoggra among the refugees, that he’s making every refugee line up in the sun each morning to get their days rations and supplies.

“When you come in,” he tells them. “Make sure it’s during the day. You’ll get a far better reception then.”

Saul, with fourth level vampiric taint, is well aware that the Black Sun is only a forty minutes or so from rising. Anthony brings the conversation with garrulous Andy to a friendly close, saying they’d better head back to their people in Samford. Andy waves cheerfully as the characters drive west on Waterworks road, along the army’s perimeter fence.

At the next major intersection they find a similar set up, just with a GWagon this time parked in the middle. The army dude there greets them, saying Andy radioed ahead about them. He waves as Anthony turns carefully south away from the base.



Home Again

With the sun getting closer they head back toward Bardon. Belinda relaxes in the passanger seat, using Domain Dreaming again, and this time succeeding. Using Spirit Sight from the Tree her conciousness is able to catch a glimpse of Lisa. The wife of Dave the pig hunting werewolf tour guide is napping in the front seat of her own four wheel drive. It looks like she’s pulled up in the middle of a wide open paddock and has a riffle across her lap. Using Mind’s Reach Belinda establishes gestalt with sleeping Lisa: “It’s Belinda. Don’t ask, just come to the house and avoid the army barracks.”

The character’s pull back into Belinda’s street with ten or so minutes to spare. Saul dashes inside:

“You guys can unload this time”.

Inside Quentin is still up. He says Isobella has already retired for the day. Anthony asks him if a Colonel Kirby was a known vampire contact. Quentin doesn’t recognise the name. He says that the Prince tended to keep key high level humans in thrall rather than micro manage. He also mentions that Negis helped with government liasons.

Saul asks Quentin if Isobella is really down. Quentin says she sleeps early and wakes late, which jibes with their memories of her turning up well after dark. Saul goes and gets some mundane paint to practice drawing ritual sigils.

Finished unloading Evan asks: “Are we gonna talk to our guys about moveing to Enoggra?”

Anthony: “Saul can’t go for at least two days and Isobella won’t get through the door. Although, given what the Private said, they’re likely to be at our door within two or three days anyway…”

Saul: “Be interesting to see what happens when they come to our house…”

They pretty much decide against telling their neighbours about the base surviving I think.



The Fourth Day – Morning training and Retrieving goods

Saul holes up in a dark room practising his ritual calligraphy.

Evan spends the morning trying to “train” the sentries by sneaking up to them with a bedsheet over his head in an effort to prevent the sun blistering his skin (vamp taint 2).

Belinda, Anthony, and Liam drive over to Isobella’s house to retrieve her ritual supplies.

Before she left Belinda makes sure to tell Clara, (over breakfast with the kids?) to expect Lisa’s arrival. Telling her to interrupt Saul if she gets there before the other awakened get back.

Amazingly though the trip is uneventful. They find Isobella’s house still trashed and unoccupied. With Liam deactivating some wards on her ritual room they get the goods and get back successfully.

On the way back they do bump into a family of humans who’ve broken down. The radiator is steaming, and the harassed looking middle aged man who seems to be the father of the family asks if they know anything about cars. He says they’re trying to reach Enoggra, having heard a rumor the army is holding it safe. Anthony confirms Enoggra is safe and advises the man to take a new car that someone else has abandoned rather than try to repair his old one.

Man: “Isn’t that… Illegal?”

Anthony: “It’s all about expedience.”

Man: “But how do we start it?”

Anthony, (pointing to a house with a car parked in front of it): “Kick in the front door, find the keys, start the car.”

Belinda (smiling): “It’s the new world!”



Dashing Hopes

Back at Bardon, as they’re unloading their haul a young woman crosses hesitantly from the samaritan house toward them. She was one of the prisoners they rescued from the Black Priest’s church and Anthony’s face falls when he sees her. “Oh fuck,” he mutters before turning to her with a gentle smile.

Woman: “I was just wondering… Our families… You said you’d try to save our families?”

Anthony: “I have some bad news. We got in, but it seems… When the Angel came down all the people inside must have died.”

Woman (crying): “Really?”

Anthony: “Some of the vampires ran off, but the people who were inside…. They were like the others in the church…”

Woman: “Oh god. I was afraid, but I so wanted to see my father again.”

Anthony: “When we’re in the city we’ll do what we can, but it’s not looking good…”



Activities around Home

Anthony escorts the grieving woman back to the samaritan house. With the leadership of Garry Choi and the others the community of survivors is starting to work well together. They’ve got old style latrines set up down in the back gardens and are starting to divide up the labour. Most of the survivors are out as a work crew while those who remain behind are cooking, hauling away the shit, looking after children, or dismantling things the scavangers have hauled in.

It’s still a very civilian looking affair however. Anthony spends the spends some time teaching anti-zombie techniques using a brush hook. Evan uses tools and materials the scavengers have brought in in the workshop they’ve set up next door to put together some spears and resize some short brush hooks into reach three weapons. He also invents a pole saber type weapon by fixing machete blades to a medium length shaft of wood. He uses Call the Sap a few times to ease the process and improve the quality of the materials he’s working with.

Saul keeps practicing his rituals.

Belinda spends some time on her back deck, relaxing in a chair reading one of Isobella’s occult texts with a tall glass of water beside her. She tests the photosynthesis side effect of Petal Fall Hair, finding that it is invigorating, but not as hearty as an actual meal.

At some point Anthony puts his 10mm handgun and spare clip into storage. Belinda swaps her kitchen knife for a parang. Evan replaces the two uzi clips he gave away with ones from the house’s stores.



Lisa Arrives

Mid afternoon a battered looking four wheel drive with ’Dave’s hunting tours’ emblazoned on the side passes through the sentry’s blockade. Directed to the samaritan house she approaches the active people:

“Is Belinda or any of those guys around? I really need to talk to them.”

Anthony greets her: “Glad Belinda got into contact with you.”

Lisa: “Thought that was a dream. I’m glad… But Dave’s dead.”

She tells them that the Glass House Boys (the werewolves north of Brisbane) have gone insane. That some of their kinfolk have turned or partially turned into werewolves, and that they’ve started abducting the kinfolk and families of lone wolves and outliers. This is how Dave died, holding them back so she could get away. The claw marks and blood splatter on her four wheel drive seem to bear this out.

Lisa says that it’s taken her two days to get to Brisbane from Kilkoy:

“It’s bad out there. Everywhere’s full of people who fled the city and there’s infected, and people are running out of food, and the locals are starting to push back. There’s murder and chaos everywhere. I couldn’t think where else to go, remembered Dave said you were some kind of weird Gaia blessed type of wolves, and going to the suburbs is not something the Glass House Boy’s would expect when the whole city seems to have emptied out. I’ve got to warn you though… They’re probably still chasing me.”

Evan: “Fuck off!”

It’s more a expression of surprise than a directive and the others assure Lisa she’s welcome, asking how far behind, and when she last saw her pursuers. She doesn’t know. The last time she physically saw them was as she was fleeing the farm, (she shot and ran one over on her way out), but as wolf kin she’s sensitive to spirits and she’s had the feeling for the last two days of being watched and followed.

“I only managed a couple hours of sleep.”

She looks shattered. They take her into Belinda’s house and put her to bed upstairs before helpfully unloading her car. In the process they discover she was carrying two .308 hunting rifles, a ten gauge pump action shotgun, a (highly illegal) .300 sig assault rifle, a big carton of boxes of ammunition, and a hastily packed bag of clothes, food, and water.



Afternoon Activities

Belinda does some more photosyntesis.

Anthony goes out with a scavanger crew, working on stripping houses from two streets over.

Evan inspects the samaritan house, reinforcing doors and windows. He also warns people,

“If you hear howls then get everyone indoors. Barricade yourself in and get on the roof with the rifles and let us know.”

Curtis seems to understand that Evan means werewolf trouble. The other survivors maybe not so much. A rumour starts going around that there’s a group of bandits out there using imitation wolf howls to communicate.

Saul wakes Lisa after she’s had a couple hours rest. He gets some more detailed descriptions from her of the Glass House Boys, how many (about three packs with six or seven wolves in each), where they lived, who their leaders were, etc. I’ll do this up as another info page when I can.

After an few hours of hard work Anthony coopts a couple of samaritans with electrical know how (maybe one of the uni students). He gets them installing some of the solar panels and batteries they took from Chandra onto Belinda’s house. It’s a pretty dodgy job, with second hand wires and taped up joins etc but they get the panels bolted (directly) on and the inverter spliced in.



Nightfall, day 4 – The first Bestowal

Saul aproaches Quentin about an hour after dark.

Saul: “Need to talk to Isobella about some pretty personal things. Not interested in harming her.”

Quentin assures him that vampires are pretty old and morally flexible. Saul says he just needs some blood and to establish a connection…

Quentin: “You’re not talking about Vinaculum?”

Saul: “…no. Not the blood bond, just a connection.”

Quentin says he’s pretty sure Isobella will want a chance to study it first, but shows Saul in.

Isobella is well enough now to sit up in bed. With some assistance from Anthony (offers to heal damage done) Saul is fairly easily able to persuade her to give him a cup or so of her blood, which they do.

She does indeed want to see Bestowal demonstrated before receiving a mark herself. Cold bloodedly she suggests her armless servant Curtis as a subject. Saul indicates he’d prefer to mark Quentin, and Quentin indicates he is willing.

Isobella agrees. Saul bestows the first Mark from the Awakened of the Tree. Faced with a choice at the last minute of exactly where to put it Saul touches Quentin’s armpit. A pattern of shadowy roots grows down across Quentin’s skin from out of his pit hairs. The connection is made.

Having noticed that Saul and Evan are both a little uncouth when persuading, Belinda and Anthony take them aside to teach the basics of expression. With his newly enhanced intellect Saul is able to grasp the fundamentals (gains dot 1 expression). Evan… will need some more time (“Eh fuck it whatever”).



Headed out again – Toowong

Over dinner the characters discuss what they should do next.

Saul seems in favour of a quiet night at home, (he’s got rituals to cast and servants to summon), but he’s amenable to a trip.

Making a trip to scout out to Wivanhoe comes up. Lisa didn’t come down past the dam, having instead travelled through Caboolture, and then south until blocked at the Strathpine river (bridge down) and having to backtrack north and slightly west again and come in through Samford valley.

Anthony is in favour of heading out to Tingalpa to see if the Prince is holed up there, but it’s on the south side of the Brisbane river, as is the Prince’s Balmoral mansion. The Story Bridge is the only crossing that they know is still up and they’d have to get through the CBD, Blud Oth territory, to get to it.

They decide on a trip to Wivanhoe via the Toowong drop off, and load into the trusty armoured SUV. Evan is now carrying one of the pole sabers he made that afternoon. It’s on the back seat next to him, along with his bone lance, chain saw, machete, kukri, shotgun, uzi, and gods know what else.

Traveling south from Bardon to Toowong is uneventful. The roundabout near the cemetary where they picked up Charlotte a couple of days ago is dry, if muddy, where it had been a couple of meters under water last time they were there.

The drop point they want to check is at the business centre post office, a post box which senior members of the court had keys to. Driving carefully into the business area they see Toowong tower is still standing, if seemingly abandoned. It’s quiet, but Spirit Sense is registering the prickly of zombie, or other supernatural presences on the edge of their awareness.

Their headlights sweep over a teenage boy with eyes that gleam like a cat’s standing by a bus stop halfway down Sherwood road. Spirit Sight reveals the (weak) scarlet core and veins of a vampire even as the kid turns and sprints towards the old grocery store. Belinda speeds up, swerving into the carpark after him.

Malevolent anticipation of violence grows in the car. Anthony starts building his Petal Fall aura. Belinda raises Mind’s Reach. Saul starts building his Shadow Cloak. Evan looks at the other three as if they’re wasting Essence, while he tries to decide which of his plethora of weapons to actually use.

The vampiric teenager is running toward a cluster of four or so vans and delivery trucks parked in front of the grocery store. An academic or office worker looking man with early balding is loading cartons into the back of one of the vans. Spirit Sight reveals him to be a ghoul, although the flush of vampiric power in his flesh is very weak.

Teenage vampire: “Pete! Pete! There’s people.”

The ghoul puts down the carton he was carrying and walks out from behind the van, raising his hand to wave and to shield his eyes from the glare of the SUV’s head lights. He’s carrying a heavy baseball bat slung over his shoulder with a jury rigged guitar strap.

“Hey there!” he calls softly. “Are you after some food?”

A different vampire emerges from the grocery store onto the walkway behind and above him. This one looks like a teenage girl, maybe eighteen or nineteen years old in appearance and dressed in punk clothes. She’s carrying a length of heavy pipe, and squints as if looking through the glare of the headlights and frowns at what she sees. There are torch lights bobbing around behind her within the grocery store itself.

“Who are you people?” she calls.

Inside the car Belinda prepares to floor it, while the other’s ready their weapons. But Evan sticks his head out the window.

“We’re friends of the Prince!” he yells,.

The girl’s face lights up: “Have you heard from him!?”

The character’s look at each other. Anthony leans out his window.

“No,” he says. “But we have spoken with Isobella recently.”

The girl (mouth twisting): “Well we’re not real high up or anything, so I’m sorry if I’ve done something wrong, but I’ve got over two hundred people safe back at Indro if Miss Scholar wants to tell me what we should do with them. If it’s food you’re after you can have some. There’s more here than we can take.”

Saul notes the licence plates and details of the vans. Over Mind’s Reach he asks: What are we doing?

Belinda: Want to help them?

Evan: Worth it to help them.

Anthony: We help them go back, then tell their two hundred about the army barracks and warn the vamps to hang with us…

Saul: Don’t think the vamps’ll want to abandon their herd though…

The girl stares at them, starting to look impatient:

“Yo! You want some or not?”

Anthony: Well should we kill them then?

Saul: Nah. Let’s warn them about the army.

Anthony puts down his gun and gets out of the car. The other’s follow suit, they walk forward to say hello and help carry stuff. The teenage girl vampire introduces herself as Ivy, and the teenage boy vampire as Zach, the older ghoul as Pete, and the others from inside the grocery store with names I haven’t made up. All the others are carrying makeshift bludgeoning weapons similar to Ivy, Zach, and Pete, bar one, who was carrying a shotgun and also a weak ghoul.

While they’re working Anthony tells Ivy: “I’ll give you a heads up. The army at Enoggra are taking in refugees, but they’re marching them all out during the day.” He doesn’t mention the character’s own survivor colony at Bardon.

Ivy stares at them several times while they’re working: “I don’t mean to be rude, but… youse are kin arn’t you?” They assure her they are.

After they mention they’re headed south she tells them that the Indooroopilly bridge is up, and the Centenary Highway bridge down. She warns them that the area south of the river is swarming with zombies, and increasingly with gangs of feral gangrel. She says gangrel like it’s an expletive, and then with a glance at Zach , “not that they’re all bad”.

The characters finish helping, taking the opportunity to load up their SUV too, especially with some alfoil for blocking out windows. Ivy invites them back to Indro so they pull out of the parking lot after the vans and follow the convoy south.



Indooroopilly Stronghold

In the valley between Toowong and Taringa the convoy pulls up. They idle, lights off, while a mob of fifty or sixty zombies stagger across the road ahead, flowing from the Toowong side toward St Lucia. In their SUV the characters follow suit, and the mob passes without incident.

The rest of the trip is uneventful. Soon enough they’re pulling onto the ramp up into the top level of the Indooroopilly shopping center’s multi story carpark. The lower levels have been fenced off or barricaded. All plate glass windows facing the outside have been reinforced with plyboard and timber. The head of the ramp is also barricaded. The people standing guard there (humans all) pull aside the middle section to allow the vehicles through. As they pass the characters spot one rifle leaning against a wall close to the guards, but mostly they seem armed with bludgeoning weapons.

The convoy backs up to the doors leading into the upper area that used to be a cinema. Turns out Ivy has converted the theatres into storage for dry goods. After the characters help her people unload Ivy and Zach take them downstairs. The food court is one massive communal space, teeming with survivors. In the main part of the shopping centre the shops to the side of each gallery have been divvied up with hanging blankets and canvas to make separate dwellings for families etc. This is repeated on the two levels below, creating the the overall impression of a massive, jury rigged fire hazard crawling with people.

It’s dark, and somewhat smelly. Ivy explains that after her group’s house was overrun (“St Lucia’s a write off”) they fled to the shopping center as it was the biggest, most most solid building in the area. They found people there already, and more kept turning up.

She shrugs: “You can’t just turn them away.”

She pretty much implys that she’s revealed the existance of vampires to at least some of the survivors, but has a difiant, “let them have done better in the situation we were in” type attitude.

While talking and touring Anthony has, moderately discretely, raised Spirit Sight (is he still rocking the hat?). Out of all the people he’s laid eyes on Ivy and Zack seem to be the only vampires,and he only spots five ghouls, most of whom were either on the scavenging expedition or standing guard outside. Spirit Sense is remarkably calm here inside the center, with no trace of werewolf or zombie, but perhaps a hint of another vamp somewhere within.

When asked how she came to be in charge Ivy shrugs and says she’s older than she looks and used to being in charge, (I actually had her claiming to have been turned in the 70s but that’s my error, she should have just claimed an extra decade not four).

The characters raise the possibility that the survivors may want to seek refuge with the army and Ivy seems amenable. She doesn’t seem to see the Indooroopilly survivors as her property, or as a resource for providing blood.

“People are people.” She shrugs, “they’ll do what they think best for them. It is pretty dark in here, and the sanitation bad. I can see why some will want to go.”

When asked what she’d do for sustenance if most of the survivors leave she laughs:

“We’re not like those high society types, used to having hundreds of blood dolls and big mansions. Been living the last ten years in a share house with just three or four friends for support. We know how to live cheap.”

This attitude jibes with what Saul has remembered from the info Quentin gave him about the vampires of the city. An Ivy Purcel, a weak brujah, was mentioned as leader of ‘the St Lucia rabble’. They seem to have been a group of anarchists turned as part of an earlier Sabbat attempt to invade the city, and given a chance by the Prince to swear allegiance to the Camarilla and live quietly.

She asks about the roads to the north and if the characters would help with transport. There’s some talk about where to get hold of trucks or buses. It seems that during the long night buses stopped coming to the station outside. Raiding the council depot at Toowong is suggested.

We end the session with Anthony intending to gather the survivors within the building and make a speech, outlining the chance to flee north to the army barracks, and saying that whoever is willing should be ready tomorrow night when he and his friends will arrive with trucks to get them there. We’ll do the actual speech making next session though

Thanks for reading :)



Next – Info dump: Wolves of Beerburrum

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updates for 19

I got another week to do this properly :)

Moved the index:

It should now be there when you click wiki tag.


Renamed some stuff::

Term Archetypal changed back to Domain.

Inward Looking line of powers now called Introspection.

Outward Looking line of powers now called Extrospection.

Recapture is now Circulate

Thanks for the help :)


Merged the old ‘generate aura’ powers into Manifest Aura:

It’s rewritten for clarity.

It’s now part of the Domain, Extrospection line of powers.

Removed the old generate aura powers.


Changed the dot of some powers:

Burrowing Roots now dot 0.

Greenwood Flesh now dot 0.

Call the Sap now dot 1.

Petal Fall Hair now dot 0.

Note, Scent of Life and Entanglement remain dot 2 powers (they’re too good for dot 1).


Added some powers to fill the gaps in aspects that moving stuff made:

Aspect of Roots – Dot 1 – Subtle Grasp

Aspect of Heartwood – Dot 2 – Resinous Exudation

Aspect of Leaves – Dot 1 – Verdure


Changed Scent of Life:

Now roll [Resolve + Medicine + Release Level, up to aspect] to see how much aura you can spend in a single action.

This is to bring it in line with verdure and other direct essence expenditure powers, as part of a general attempt to have skill and release level affect the use of these powers.


Added a section for Rituals below the Powers section:

Added two rituals:

Abyssal Mysticism – Dot 2 – Lesser Shadow Servant (yeah it became a dot 2 ritual, sorry).

Abyssal Mysticism – Dot 3 – Comforting Darkness


Added some basic rules pages:

How Maneuvers Work
How Powers Work
How Rituals Work

Just cause I realised the differences not written up anywhere.


Changed effects of activated Spirit Sense (spirit sight):

The bonus to initiative is now +1 dice.

The bonus to perceive mundane effects is now +1 dice.

The bonus to perceiving the supernatural is now equal to [Release Level up to dots in Domain Extrospection powers].


Replace the old Visions dot 2 power with Glean Thoughts:

Basically the old Scenes from the Past power was too similar to Reverie and inferior to it.


Moved the ability to split awareness between body and the Tree:

Took it away from Mind’s Reach.

Added it to Domain Dreaming.

It now costs an aura (which it effectively used to cost anyway when had to raise mind’s reach first).


Changed the default usage of Domain Dreaming:

Instead of automatically projecting into the tree “when asleep” this now occurs “at midnight” (whether awake or asleep), or when dead. It can still occur when sleeping but is no longer reliable (the second usage now covers attempts to nap your way into the Tree).

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