Wednesday 3rd August
9pm, Belinda’s House
The sky is still dark as pitch, the normal stars and moon gone from their place in it. The red stars of the apocalypse streak overhead and it is getting very cold.
The Awakened unload guns, knives, and ammunition onto Belinda’s dining room table the haul from their hit and run on a gun shop. Stacks of cartons containing dried beans and canned food are in the background, loot from an earlier robbery.
They find they pretty much grabbed what they need in the hasty raid but there are some lacks and oddities, for example no .45 bullets for the second hand revolver they grabbed, as well as unnecessary things like a box of airgun pellets, or another of duck whistles.
They reload their personal supplies from the pile on the table, using nine millimeter handgun ammunition to refill the magazines of their uzi’s.
Saul switches on the tv and live news is on every channel. Still now answers from the world’s politicians on the nuclear explosions and coups around the world. Rumors are growing of illness among the elite. Locally unrest is growing, people crowding in toward the city demanding answers and scuffling with police cordon’s around the cbd.
The Good Samaritans
Approaching murmurs and the clacking of a woman’s sandales catches the attention of the awakened. Anthony rises. He opens the (reinforced) door on its chain moments after their visitors’ knock. Flat against the wall beside him, hiding from outside view, Saul covers the gap with his double barrel shotgun.
It’s Belinda’s neighbors from up the street a little, seems they’ve been going door to door encouraging people to gather in their house for company and comfort on this night of random violence.
Anthony (glancing back at the gun laden table just out of sight) “We’re… very self sufficient here.”
Bob, “Well, if you’re sure… We’re just up the road if you change your mind.”
They part pleasantly. Soon after the awakaned hear the couple knocking on the door of the next house down the street.
Just after ten Belinda’s phone rings. It’s one of her work subordinates with a problem to drop in Belinda’s lap.
Apparently young Wanda and a couple of other work mates had gone into the city to see what was happening. When the protests become violent they took shelter in the office on George street, but now the maximum time to which a normal worker can delay the office alarm is arming is approaching. Wanda is wondering if her boss could help. Its still very scary outside with groups of police and rioters periodically moving up or down the parts of the street below.
Belinda puts her on hold while having a short discussion with the others. They’re against an immediate rescue attempt (having killed one police officer already that night). So Belinda uses her managerial access to push back the arming of the office alarms and calls Wanda back.
“Wanda I’ve reset the alarms for twelve hours. I recommend you stay in the office untill things settle. If you see an opportunity go. But if you don’t find an opportunity to leave before seven tomorrow call me back so that I can reset the alarms again.”
Saul rings Stix
Saul asks if Isobella called, (she hadn’t), and asks for them to get her to ring Anthony if she does. He says will get back to Stix in morning on whether they should all try to regroup.
About half an hour later the characters hear heavy helicoptors over head, flying in towards the city. Looking out a window Anthony notices that snow flakes are beginning to fall silently through the still air. It’s freezing cold.
On the news it seems the police are loosing control. The army has been mobilised and there are scenes of great violence. The characters recognise the great leaps and powerful tearing blows of vampires on both sides of the fray, as well as many ordinary people throwing stones, crowding around the fallen, being shot, and gassed. Much of the conflict seems to be based around overflowing hospitals. With the armed forces trying to keep crowds out, or in other cases to break in.
Anthony gets a call from his daughter. It seems Clara has gathered with her neighbors like he earlier suggested, but an argument has broken out about whether to stay or go after the news of violence on the tv.
“Dad, what should I do?”
Anthony suggests she stay.
P((. “I don’t think now is the time to be on the streets.”
“If this all keeps up we’ll come and get you at eight in the morning.”
“Keep as many people inside as possible.”
Reassured Clara tells him that she and her children will side with those who opt to stay.
Things start to fail
The tv goes out, all stations giving nothing but static. Belinda, “That’s ”/wikis/mount-cootha" class=“wiki-page-link”> mount Cootha…"
Switching to radio they find all stations there are down too, except for one wide band, repeating broadcast.
“The Rebellion is successful.”
“The Ancient One is with us.”
“Claim the streets in Blood!”
Belinda suggests ringing Elysium but Anthony is against it. “They told us to stay put.”
Saul asks Anthony to ring Isobella, since the last time Isobella saw Saul he was about to try and eat her. They find however that the phones are down, mobile reception and landlines both.
Soon after the power fails. The characters are left in darkness lit by torch and candle lights listening to neighborhood alarm systems going off on battery backup mode. Belinda, “now how are we supposed to sleep with that?”
Midnight… But not at the Tree
Sitting, talking, and listening to the neighborhood sounds around them the characters realize that midnight has come and gone, but the Tree has not done its thing.
Belinda goes to have a nap and find out what is going on. When her spirit gets to the Tree she finds that the Tree seems normal, its just not midnight. In fact the Tree seems disconnected from the deeper spirit world (not that the characters are adept at spirit world stuff yet). Certainly the influence of the sun and moon seem to have completely disappeared.
Visions in the Dark
Saul goes up on top of the roof to star gaze.
All is quiet in Bardon. There are still lights on in some houses, including the do gooder’s house just up the road. He gets the sense that most people in the surrounds are huddled in their houses in the dark, praying for dawn.
Over toward the city there is the glow of fires, the sparodic sounds of distant gunfire. Overhead the streaks from the red stars stretch across the sky.
Saul draws a single point of essence to regenerate his last bruises and push himself up to release state one. His old psychic powers kick in. The situation is indeed ripe for a vision…
Aboard the deck of a wooden ship a mauve skinned woman with pointy ears looks up from the glowing sigils of her instrumentation. “Sir! A blue star has appeared.”
Saul sits up as the reverie ends. “What. The. Fuck.”
Thursday the 4th of August
7am, Waking in the Dark – Exodus
It’s still dark. It’s freezing cold and water is no longer coming out of the taps.
The characters can hear the sounds of doors being opened and shut, people going back and forth as several families along the street pack their worldly possessions into vehicles.
Snow crunches underfoot as they go out to look. People seem to be congregating in their vehicles at the good samaritan’s house as they finish packing. The character’s soon see Bob and Laura coming their way, doing the rounds again from door to door.
Bob tells them that several of the families are going to try to leave the city in convoy, traveling north or west. Laura says that some of the residents returning from the city protests have terrible stories and rumors to tell. She doesn’t seem to know what to think about the wilder ones, but the characters, with their knowledge of the infection and vampire uprising, are more inclined to believe them.
Laura, “Would you like to come with us?”
Anthony, “Do you have guns? Do you have snow chains? Do you have ways to recover your vehicles when you get bogged or slide off the road?”
Queenslanders through and through both Bob and Laura seem not to have thought too much about the conditions or logistics. With confidence in their fourwheel driving skills they seem determined to go.
The awakened and the good samaritans part amicably even if each think the other’s course of action stupid. Laura tells them of the other families in the street who’re staying, asks if they could keep an eye out for each other and for the empty houses.
Belinda, “yes… there are sooo many looters around.”
Anthony, “well. If they’re definitely gone…”
After the convoy of families has left Anthony goes around to those who remained. He takes a backpack of cans and dried foods to each household, encouraging them to gather together for mutual protection.
He’s largely successful. Reluctant however to let so many ordinary people crowd into Belinda’s home, (“we’d probably eat them”), he redirects this new movement of people into… the good samaritans’ empty house. After all it is large, has its own power (solar panels + battery bank), and Bob and Laura themselves did invite them to gather there just a dozen hour or so ago.
Going to pick up Clara
The characters decide to go out and fetch Anthony’s daughter Clara from Nudgee.
As they get into Belinda’s sedan Anthony mentions that they should keep an eye out for motorbike shops as dirt bikes could prove useful later on. They know of a shop in enoggera but Belinda points out they should avoid the army barracks there. Anthony is against going anywhere near the city, which cuts off all the usual routes you’d take to get from Bardon to Nudgee.
They decide to take the circuitous route, driving (very slowly and carefully) out through the gap aiming to go north through samford valley before cutting back east through strathpine, across the bruce highway and south again down the gateway motorway.
Roads in the gap are deserted, but passing closer to Mount Cootha the characters feel the world’s essence draining down through the open rent. It isn’t a pleasant experience.
Samford valley is largely deserted. When they cut east however they get caught up in long jam of people trying to get onto the north bound highway out of the city. It takes hours just to get a dozen or so kilometers to the bridge across the highway. Fleeing drivers block both sides of the roads and tempers flare in other cars (the awakened keep their shit together however, no blood baths among the motorists yet).
Southbound on the gateway is largely empty, raised and seperated as it is from the clogged northbound lanes. Soon the characters are turning off into Clara’s neighbourhood which looks, in their headlights, a lot more worn and deserted than upper class Bardon.
One house in Clara’s street seems to have a crowd of people. The character’s pull up in front, but as they approach the front steps one of the men on the porch holds out his hand, “stop right there folks, what are you here for?”
Anthony explains and someone goes inside to get Clara so she can vouch for them. As they wait the man explains, “had some trouble here last night, roving gangs breaking into houses and being silly buggers”.
When Clara comes out and vouches for them (still seemingly oblivious to the way her father now looks younger than she does) the characters go inside. There are several family still gathered here, although Clara mentions that about half the folk who originally gathered left in a convoy a few hours ago with the aim of fleeing north.
Anthony suggests people should pack as much food as they can and come with the characters back to Bardon, saying he knows of a safer house in a quieter area where people are gathering in a similar way. He manages to convince three families, as well as Clara and her two kids, and, after some quick packing, they leave in convoy.
The Trip Back
They take the same route in reverse. Again they get stuff among fleeing traffic as they approach the bridge across the highway. This time however, about an hour or so into the jam they hear blaring air horn sirens behind them. Cars pull to the sides to make room for a military truck, lights flashing, which leads a government buss with heavily tinted windows followed by an armored personnel carrier.
The soldier manning the fifty caliber machine gun in the apc’s turret looks exhausted and battle worn and stares at the people in cars to either side with hard, flat eyes. Pulled over with everyone else the awakened exchange speculative glances as the government vehicles move slowly past. Malevolent blood thirst is almost palpable within their car. “We could probably take them,” murmurs Anthony. “It’s a big gun,” Belinda says, “Imagine if we could get our hands on it.” “It’s the truck I’m thinking of,” returns Anthony. But Clara and her kids are in the car with them, and there are three more carloads of her innocent neighbors behind. The character’s resist the temptations of greed.
Once across the highway the going gets easier again. As they pass through one of the small towns in Samford valley however they see a man stumble out of a pub and down the front steps into the snowy street. His face is awash with blood and dim figures lurch out of the pub behind him. Anthony slows, but does not stop. None of the three carloads of Belinda’s neighbors behind them stop either. “Your daughter picked smart people,” comments Belinda. “Too much blood,” says Anthony. “If they stopped I’d have shot him.”
Coming close to the draining vent is just as disturbing on their way back through the gap, but they pass it without incident. Their phones say it is one in the afternoon as they pull back into Belinda’s street. The unrelenting darkness is the same as it has been for the past thirty something hours, the cold biting ever deeper.
Clara and her two young teenagers are welcomed into Belinda’s house, where they are amazed at the piles of guns, ammunition, and food cartons.
Anthony introduces the three carloads of Clara’s neighbors to Belinda’s gathered neighbors up at the good samaritans’ house and helps them settle in.
Heading back out
Soon though the characters head back out. Deciding on a quick trip to hit a servo while things are still quiet.
The local service station is only minutes down the road, but as they pull in Anthony and Saul see two four wheel drives are already there. Four men are in the process of looting the place. One throwing swap and go gas bottles up onto the roof racks of the lead vehicle. Another trying to get fuel from the (powerless) bowsers. A third is inside emptying racks of stuff into garbage bags. While the fourth is inside behind the counter taking an axe to the till.
Anthony walks calmly up behind the man messing with the bowsers drawing his night stick and drawing on the Tree to activate potence 1, putting the buff from release level one into strength as well. He swings at the back of the man’s head, but the dude, looking up at the last moment, manages to duck and shoves Anthony hard in the chest. Anthony resists with supernatural strength and the man’s jaw is dropping as Saul steps around from behind him with double barreled sawn off leveled in his face. The four gentlemen are persuaded to go away, leaving their vehicles behind. Saul and Anthony take up where they left off.
Anthony finishes loading the rest of the gas bottles onto the lead four wheel drive first, then he tries to get fuel up from the underground tanks via the inspection hatches. The hatches are too narrow for a bucket but he has some success shaking a ball valve siphon starter hose vigorously. It’s a messy and slow process that he gives away after filling a couple of ten liter lawn mower tins with petrol. From inside the attached mechanics workshop he scavenges some jerry cans of fuel as well as tools, stick lights and car batteries. Anthony leaves some of the heavier items such as a acetylene torch, jacks, etc behind but takes the rest of the empty fuel tins from inside the shop area.
Saul finishes looting the shop area itself, focusing on batteries, but getting sundries like toilet rolls, and coffee etc as well. He grabs the loose water bottles from fridge and from the back room gets a few cartons more. The till he leaves unopened, no use for money now.
Saul and Anthony each take a four wheel drive each. As they pull out of the servo Saul throws the keys to Belinda’s sedan toward the four men who’ve been hanging around at a distance. The pair drive off leaving the men they’ve robbed behind.
The World Lurches
Half way back to Belinda’s the world suddenly lurches out from under them. They pull up in the middle of the road as the earth quakes and moans with a sound like deep whale song. A loud rattle and bang comes from the west, accompanied with a surge of volcanic domain type power.
Red light washes the dark street. Above them hands a huge blood moon, nearly full with a red storm dot like an eye glaring down at them. The red stars have stopped streaking and settled in fixed positions, behind them faint gold and blue ones can be seen. Clouds boil out of the upper air in rolls, dissolving almost as quickly as they form, and the first gusts of freezing, blustery wind make them realize how still the air has been.
For Anthony, with his high vampiric taint, the moment of the moon’s emergence is acompanied with a feeling as if a furnace door has been opened on the other side of the world. Looking up through the windscreen he realises a sun has returned. “Toto, we’re not in kansas anymore…”
Home Sweet Home
Pulling into Belinda’s street they find a gaggle of people outside in front of the good samaritans’ house. They’re scared of the earthquake, and of the volcanic glow in the west. Increasing gusts of wind soon drive them back inside however as the awakened unload their haul. The wind rises to storm intensity, driving snow, and leaves, and dirt from all directions. Tree branches snap and windows break. The character’s retreat into the shelter of Belinda’s (reinforced) house.
6pm, Midnight at the Tree
The storm lasts for hours.
At six pm by clocks on their mobile phones the character’s suddenly feel that the Tree has reached midnight. Essence flows into the domain from the awakened, from Stix, Curtis, Liam, and Quentin, from Isobella, from Erin, from Clara and her teenagers, from Clara’s friends and the local neighbors sheltering across the road in the samaritan house, and from Belinda’s subordinates in the city. All in all the reserves swell by nineteen points of essence.
Anthony, Belinda, and Saul each ameliorate down two points of their instability. The Tree matures a little more, getting closer to reaching its third level of growth.
On earth, outside where their bodies sleep the storm continues to rage.
By twelve pm (according to their mobile phones the worst of the wind has passed. The clouds of turbulence are tattering apart as fast as they formed, and the sky is paling in the east.
At one am on friday the fifth of august, the black sun rises.
There we leave it for the week
Thanks for reading :)