Sunrise, Day Three
A middle aged restaurateur caught in crossfire during the night of the fall, he merged with a Heartwood aspect of the Tree. Now, several days later, Giuseppe returns to the world of the living in the post apocalyptic streets of Bardon, miles from where he died.
Malevolent and Indomitable he can sense the other Awakened, recognizing them as fellow parts of the Tree. They in turn sense him.
Anthony, “Let’s go collect our newest branch.”
They walk out to say hello. By now they’re barely recognizable as the people they used to be, pre-apocalypse. They’re heavily armed, their clothes are dirty, and most of them are wearing Isobella’s black body armor vests strapped over the top.
Evan, “G’day mate! How you going?”
Giuseppe, “Don’t even know I am…”
Evan, "Oh well, sorry mate but there’s vampires, werewolves, zombies…. "
They explain the apocalypse from their point of view as they walk back to Belinda’s house, waving to the survivors standing sentry at the end of the street as they go past.
Evan, “So if there’s anything else you need to ask…”
Giuseppe, “What the hell is going on! Do we have a plan?” And then… “I’m gonna need some fukin weapons!”
Saul, “Come down to the basement…”
Down in the basement Giuseppe is faced with an array of firearms and piles of ammunition. Evan tries to push the compound bow on him, saying he should learn to shoot using more expendable arrows rather than ammunition.
Evan, “Can you even use these weapons?”
Giuseppe, “Ay, I was in the war! I used to be a sniper back in the day!” (and some time later) “Don’t you dis my fukin restaurant!”
Actually Giuseppe has never handled a gun in his life. He chooses a .223 rifle with a scope. Taking three spare clips for it realizes he has no idea which way round to load the bullets (into the clips).
Giuseppe, “Err… I’m don’t have my glasses.”
Evan, “There’s a bow and arrow here if you want.”
Giuseppe, “Fuck off, you can go be Robin Hood. I just need a bit of help…”
Saul loads the bullets for him. Giuseppe watches but doesn’t quite see enough to learn the basics of gun handling (fail’s intellect roll to acquire dot 1 shoot).
S, “You want a pistol?”
G, “No I’m all good, I’m just short sighted…” He does take a combat knife though, “Why not, I’ll stab some people…”
Meanwhile Belinda reloads her uzi, pistol and shotgun. She grabs a replacement kitchen knife, while Saul mounts a laser pointer on his plain nine mill pistol, and another on his gold plated one. Evan and Giuseppe keep up their banter.
Quentin comes down the stairs supporting himself with a home made crutch and his remaining leg. Liam hovering behind him. The old ghoul asks if he and Liam can take some weapons and supplies from the awakened’s stash, as well as one of Isobella’s armored suv’s.
He seem’s to feel that there must be some hope for Isobella’s survival after all. Dreams may have been mentioned, as well as the growing certainty that, as her longstanding vassel, he should be able to feel if she had actually died. Liam backs him up on this.
His plan is to go to Isobella’s house first, to see if she returned after the sabbat gangers’ invasion. Failing that he says he’ll take the suv up to Mt Cootha and into the Rent to look for signs of her there.
Anthony agrees, but says that the characters will go with Quentin and Liam to Isobella’s house this morning, and decide how to proceed from there. The characters have ameliorated down enough vampiric instability each to make venturing out during the day semi feasible.
Anthony, “It’s only reasonable, if we can find Isobella it would be a great advantage with all the things we don’t know.”
Evan, “We’ll look after you mate. Not letting you go out there alone, otherwise you won’t have a leg to stand on…”
Saul (thinking about the info Quentin previously gave them), “I’d be willing to go with them to the rift as well. I wouldn’t mind dropping by Grange to check out this other vampire’s place too…”
Talking about future plans remind’s Anthony that he said he’d meet with Garry Choi and others from the samaritan house across the road this morning. He’s got the impression its about trying another grocery store raid.
Anthony, “Just give me five minutes to head these guys off and we’ll be with you.”
With the character’s blessing Quentin and Liam arm up with uzis, 9mm ammunition, food, and body armor.
Anthony goes to put aside some .223 rifles for the neighbors’ use while they’re at it. Saul agrees with the idea, but persuades Anthony to take the two .22lr competition rifles and the two .22lr pistols as they’ll be ok for shooting zombies from rooftops but less suitable for heavy combat. They end up putting aside two boxes of .22lr bullets as well.
Saul persuades Giuseppe to take an armored vest and an uzi.
G, "Err, I’m sorry I’m not familiar with this particular weapon… Can you show me it?
Saul demonstrates the safety, loading and swapping clips, fire mode selection etc, and Giuseppe successfully gets his first dot in shoot skill.
Meanwhile Evan has headed down to the back shed to make a peg for Quentin’s missing leg. He still hasn’t developed his Heartwood ability to manipulate wood using Call the Sap, but he was a qualified carpenter in his previous life. Making do with the tools he can find he crafts a serviceable piece.
Upstairs, Garry and some of the other leaders among the survivors arrive at the front door. Anthony quickly realizes they’re more interested in longer term planning.
The fledgling colony of survivors is starting to feel the effects of crowding.
Sanitation and water supply are the worst pinch points, but food is running out quickly again as well. There is also the feeling that the street is just not secure enough to protect everyone living there.
Garry asks if they’ve encountered any government forces on their travels or heard of any evacuation centers. Anthony says they haven’t, saying they’ve been as far as Woolloongabba, that there are gangs in the city, but that otherwise,
“The whole place is like the streets outside… The dead walk.”
He says they’re still intending to check out the army barracks, but that the awakened will check that out by themselves. They don’t want to run the risk of taking ordinary folk along if they discover gangs have taken it over, gangs armed with military weapons…
One of the older survives exclaims, “I just don’t know why it is so quiet here!”
Anthony admits, “That’s because of us.”
Garry, “Well just tell us wherever you guys want to go… cause we’ll go with you!”
So plans for the future remain unresolved, but Anthony tasks Garry and co in the meantime.
“I’ve realized we’ve been going about this the wrong way. The best source of food is all the abandoned homes around us.”
He hands over the .22 rim fire guns. Instructing Garry to organised looting parties and systematically strip the nearby abandoned houses in the streets around this one. Anthony tells them to be careful: move in groups, flee rather than engage zombies if possible, take it street by street, and to especially focus on bringing back water, food, solar panels, and working vehicles. He mentions one of the students who came in the other night was doing electrical engineering at uni or something and can probably help advise on removing panels etc.
Leaving the survivors to organize scavenger parties the awakened, Quentin, and Liam take both of Isobella’s armored suv’s and head off toward Ashgrove. The trip over is (miraculously) uneventful, apocalypse damage and storm debris notwithstanding.
The walls around Isobella’s property have been heavily graffiti with tags, names, and symbols of flaming knives etc. The gates hang outward.
The characters pull up on the street and get out. Cautious that the fledgling vampire gangers might still be holed up inside Saul pulls up Mind’s Reach and leads the way in.
Giuseppe stays close with uzi ready.
“I got your back!”
Evan brandishes his vampiric lance.
“I can’t wait for the first time I stab someone with my bone!”
The rest follow at a more cautious distance.
The garage doors hang wide. There are no vehicles left inside the underground space. Saul leads them in through the passage to the bottom floor, which has been trashed and looted, sprayed with graffiti.
The upstairs has been trashed as well. There are more gang signs, a pool of dried blood in the room where one of the prince’s vassals had lain recovering from zombie infection, as well as overturned furniture and damage to the walls. The vault door stand’s exposed, its cosmetic paneling ripped down and scattered. From the smell of it someone has pissed on a couch.
Evan, “Fucking scum!”
The vault door itself is still secure. Quentin enters the pin and it hisses open, revealing the long tunnel sloping down to Isobella’s bunker, (remembering that Isobella’s outer house is built into the side of a steep hill so that both lower and upper floors back into the slope).
Giuseppe backs away,
“I don’t like tunnels. I’ll stand guard up here.”
Saul raises spirit sight and leads the way down.
In the six room bunker the smell of rotting flesh is strong. To first glance Isobella’s study looks the same as they left it (half looted). The laboratory and cold room look like they’ve been rifled however and the awakened don’t remember doing that. The bathroom is empty, the ritual room is empty, although glowing with wards and workings to spirit sight. On the bottom bunk in the sleeping chamber Zoe’s corpse rots, sprawled in the position they left it.
The characters spread out. Upstairs Giuseppe starts backing down the tunnel toward their voices. In the study, Belinda finds a note left on top of the mess.
It reads, Mrs Yasley, I hung around a long time after those blades finally gave up banging on the door. You never came back and I’m getting really thirsty again. I’m gonna try going down to that eloosan place you were talking about. I’m taking some of your drugs and shit in case I need any money cause I don’t know how to get the door open from the outside. Ring me if you need me, I’ll come.
Using the note as a focus Saul tries to activate his old visionary power. He manages to catch a glimpse of Erin lying in wait behind the corner of a concrete overpass. She has a length of metal pipe in her hand and a vicious smile on her face. Behind her a ragged woman in her early twenties crouches against the concrete with her head in her hands, looking stressed and afraid.
Taking an old journal from the shelves Saul focuses on it and uses visions again. At first the results are vague, images of Isobella dressed in styles from the last few hundred years of fashion sitting at this desk but in different rooms handwriting entries into the journal. With a burst of effort Saul is able to push through to a vision of where Isobella is now.
In darkness her pale corpse, throat torn, lies sprawled across the bonnet of a beat up old sedan. Black winds spiral over her, issuing from a nearby pit which is a yawning gate into Oblivion. To the other side a huge iron cross leans over the scene, empty now where once an ancient vampire hung. At its feet the shriveled corpses of fledgling vampire gangers still lie strewn. The valley all around rises steeply, twisted ghost gums grow on its shadowed slopes. The black winds flow up between them. It is the Rent on One Tree Hill.
Using the gestalt of Mind’s Reach to view the scene Giuseppe comments,
Anthony, “Are there any blood products here?”
Evan (holding up some clinical samples from the cold room), “Yep… I stole some!”
The Awakened loot the place, taking the remaining books and medical supplies. Evan discovers and removes the wall panels concealing battery bank and ventilation units but leaves these behind as, although they’re very high quality, they’d weigh at least a ton. His ransacking of Isobella’s underwear drawer draws Giuseppe’s ire.
“You shouldn’t do that. Respect your woman! Each and every one of them….”
Heading back out the characters decide that Quentin and Liam should take the haul back home while they head on to the Rent. Quentin tries to persuade Anthony to take him along,
Q, “We can offer some back up. I can give supporting fire from a vehicle, and if she needs blood…”
Anthony, “I’m more worried about losing all of Isobella’s notes if something does go wrong. If we need blood I can bleed for a week…”
He successfully persuades Isobella’s followers to leave the undertaking to them.
Evan, “She’s dying! Let’s go!”
Anthony, “Well… She’s a vampire, she is dead. But her souls should still be in her body.”
Saul (soft voice), “Which means she’s still devourable…”
Amazingly there are no incidents on the way back from Isobella’s house either. Passing Belinda’s street in Bardon Quentin and Liam peel off in their suv while the suv with all the Awakened in it continues on.
Once More into the Breach
On the way to Mount Cootha Evan toys with the idea of making a molotov cocktail, on the back seat of the car using a plastic water bottle and fuel from his chainsaw. He discards the idea after Belinda bounces them over a speed bump a little hard.
About halfway there Anthony spot a pack of dogs, as in pet dogs that have gone feral post apocalypse. These particular animals seem to be dragging a corpse into the bushes. Anthony glances at Belinda. They decide not to stop. In the back seat Evan and Saul, still arguing about molotovs, don’t even notice.
Driving up Mount Cootha’s slopes they take the remembered turn onto a forestry road and come to a gate. It is warded, they can’t quite remember what Isobella did to open it (I think I said, “they pass over a ward” in the session 7 writeup sorry).
Saul brings up Mind’s Reach. First Belinda, then Saul bring up Spirit Sight as well. Anthony gets out of the vehicle. With his formidable will and Malevolent Soul he pushes forward on foot against the ward. Belinda drives in his wake as Anthony pushes the gate aside, and the road wavers into the dark downward spiral of the Rent in One Tree Hill.
Anthony gets back in and Belinda drives down the gravel track, her headlights once again weak in this space below the world. They pass the fallen tree, and then the massive vozhid’s corpse. The black wind blows up over their vehicle, bowing the ghost gums, as they drive right down to the bottom of the steep sided valley.
Next to the iron cross and the Rent in space, the beat up old sedan still sits. Isobella sprawls dead across its bonnet just as Saul saw her. Anthony gets out again while Belinda gets the car turned back around. The rest of the awakened scan the slopes around them, windows lowered, and weapons ready.
By the Rent, Anthony makes a shallow cut on his forearm and dribbles a small amount of blood into the mouth of Isobella’s corpse. Her fangs gleam. There is no movement, but the blood is absorbed. Satisfied he scoops her from the bonnet and carries her back to the suv.
“Let’s get the fuck out of here!” Giuseppe calls.
There is no movement from the slopes around them. Belinda puts the suv into first and starts them back up the spiraling gravel road.
On the (crowded) back seat, Anthony cuts his arm again to trickle more blood between Isobella’s fangs. She swallows! Her wounds begin to heal. Anthony raises aura and uses Scent of Life to heal her body, and feeds her more blood.
With a violent spasm Isobella latches onto Anthony’s wrist. Her mouth opens wide. With frenzied, but unenhanced strength, Isobella unconsciously strains to reach the source of blood. With the help of the others Anthony restrains her, pinning her to the seat while he dribbles more blood into her mouth and Belinda drives steadily forward, up and ever round the spiral.
At the top of the gravel road Belinda stops. The black wind flows around the vehicle and out into reality as she turns to the others inside.
“Um… We should cover Isobella.”
Giuseppe, “Why? She’s not naked.”
Belinda, “No. But she is a vampire, and it’s daylight out there.”
With Giuseppe holding his uzi ready they get out. Saul and Belinda dig around for a picnic blanket or something to wrap Isobella in, while Anthony, with Evan’s assistance, feeds her even more blood, (healing himself as he does so).
Belinda finds a tarp in the back. They bundle Isobella in it and put her in the back out of the road. Evan climbs in with her to keep her still, worried that she may have been corrupted by exposure to other dimensions…
With that they drive forward, past the gate and back into the light of the real world, where the black sun rides high in a moonless sky.
Giuseppe’s first Zombies
On the trip back they pass a trio of shambling, bloody chested zombies.
“What the fuck is that!” Giuseppe yells.
He leans out the window of the suv and fires a long burst, riddling the bodies of all three walking corpses with bullets. Flesh and gore flies to little effect. The zombies shamble toward them, but Belinda calmly keeps driving, soon leaving them far behind.
“Don’t waste bullets!” Evan scolds.
“I panicked!” Giuseppe responds. “I was in the war!”
Early afternoon, the Awakened pull back into Belinda’s street. At the house Quentin, Liam, and Curtis greet the characters anxiously. Anthony reasures them, but tells them to stay away for a bit as she’s hungry.
Anthony and company smuggle Isobella’s wrapped (and struggling) body down into the basement.
Evan immediately starts building a coffin… or cage? Going out to tear down a neighbor’s fence for timber.
Anthony feeds Isobella again until blood pools in her mouth. She’s still unconscious, but using Spirit Sight Anthony can sense that she is physically restored, with her blood thirst fully quenched. He even gets a vague sense of her bloodline and followers links. He goes back upstairs to tell Quentin, Liam, and Curtis that it should be safe to go down and be with her now. Suggesting they’ll need to see if she wakes at sunset to see if she ok.
Deeply thankful, the trio go downstairs to hover. There they encounter Evan, framing up his box. Quentin argues against imprisoning his mistress. With Saul’s mediation they come to an agreement to lock Isobella and Quentin in a room together so that if she wakes (and doesn’t blindly kill everything) Quentin can explain what has gone on.
Evan argues with the others that they should warn their neighbors about Isobella. Anthony is against telling anyone they have a vampire in their basement. They compromise on Evan giving the neighbors an unspecified warning to be alert as it could be a hostile night.
Going Out Again
It’s still only early afternoon. The characters decide to head over to Grange to check out the house of the necromancer vampire that Saul is interested in. They arm back up and head out again.
About half way over they sense a cluster of zombies sheltering from the daylight in the under house area of an old raised queenslander. Belinda stops the car.
Raising Mind’s Reach and Spirit Sight the characters move in. Saul with his shot gun, Anthony with a brush hook, Evan with his bone lance, Belinda with her uzi ready, Giuseppe with his scoped .223 rifle (and a cool hat).
There is a small crowd of half a dozen zombies standing quiescent in the shade under the house. Evan gets their attention by running down the fence line and banging a fist against the paneling.
When the zombies turn Saul lets the whole crowd have both barrels from his sawn off ten gauge. Shotgun slugs rip though zombie bodies.
Giuseppe carefully lining up a head shot with his .223 rifle.
Meanwhile Anthony starts drawing aura and steps forward, waiting, with brush hook ready, for the zombies to get to him. Belinda steps to one side and holds down the trigger of her uzi for a long burst, but the mechanism jams, and she swears.
Giuseppe finishes aiming and pulls the trigger. The rifle goes off and a patch of hair and skull explodes away from one of the zombie’s head, just short destroying it outright.
The first zombie gets to Anthony who pumps Potence and swings. He strikes the skull of his target at a bad angle and the hoot jars from his hands.
Saul pulls his plain 9mm pistol. He goes for a head shot but misses. A zombie grabs at him but he dodges to one side.
Evan runs forward, activating Potence, he plunges his lance into the body of the nearest zombie. It’s a brutal blow, with the bone tip emerging from the zombie’s back. He can feel the will of the lance reaching through the wound, but it fails to find anything to supernaturally grip and retracts again. Even with a massive hole in its guts the zombie reaches to grasp Evan, who twists free.
Belinda swaps to her handgun, missing.
Giuseppe starts lining up another head shot as the zombies close in. Anthony dodges one’s grasp, and Giuseppe pulls the trigger. His rifle jams. (murphy was strong this night)
Scooping up his brush hook again Anthony swings at the zombie in front of him. This time the curve of the blade sinks in the crook of its neck. The head flops, the body collapses.
Evan switches to his kukri and machete, cleaving a zombie’s skull and dropping it.
Saul, draws aura, using it to entangle the zombie grasping at him. This is the zombie with a head wound from Guiseppe’s earlier shot. At point blank range Saul fires his handgun into the zombie’s skull finishing it off.
Belinda steps back, firing her 9mm handgun into the body of an approaching zombie, to little effect.
Anthony cuts another zombie’s head off.
Saul, using his laser pointer for guidance, tries to line up a head shot at the remaining zombie. Meanwhile Evan sprints toward it. He tries for a flying side kick but doesn’t get the jump right, lurching off the the side as Saul pulls the trigger and the zombie goes down.
The Awakened leave Anthony to devour, what turns out to be a fairly typical harvest of fragments from the tattered souls of the zombies. Within one zombie’s belly however old man Anthony discovers a small, one essence value, fragment of Resolve. He Absorbs it and that final point of exp is enough to raise his Resolve as high as is thought to be humanly possible.
Saul loots the bodies, finding some wallets, with cash, and some keys etc.
Belinda clears the jam in her uzi and then gets back into the car, keeping the engine running as she stand’s lookout for any trouble attracked by the screaming of devoured souls.
Giuseppe stands with her.
Evan goes up into the house. He find’s evidence that someone has been camping in the living room, and takes their little gas cooker and stash of food.
There we leave it for this week.
Thanks for reading :)