The Beautiful and the Damned

S2 Chapter Two

With the presentations made to the Prince, the newly elevated neonates Dahlia Blake, Helena, Nick McDuff, Noah Carver, and Vincent Jimenez accompanied the other members of the Los Angeles Camarilla court to the lobby of the Los Angeles Theatre (that evening’s Elysium). The gathered Kindred socialized, and for the most part the new neonates were welcomed into the society of the undead and kept close by the watchful members of their clans.

Nick noticed that one of the other neonates, the Malkavian Noah appeared not to be experiencing the same welcoming effusiveness from his clan. Nick approached Noah, and the two of them struck up a conversation about their respective experiences as creatures of the night.

The party was interrupted by the sudden arrival of a gang of Anarchs who barged past security. Nick recognized their leader as Maria Conseulo Obregón, who he remembered from his days as an Anarch. By his recollection, she had run in a gang overseen by Anarch leader Salvador Garcia. Obregón loudly demanded that the Prince and Seneschal give her an explanation for footage that she displayed on her phone of what appeared to be a mortal protest rally. Heading the rally was a man that bore an uncanny resemblance to the deposed (and believed long-dead) former Prince of Los Angeles, Don Sebastian Juan Dominguez. This caused a considerable ripple amongst the gathered Kindred. Prince Garza and Luisa Garcia Herrara entered the room and, appearing shocked by the video, agreed to speak privately with Maria Conseulo Obregón. The three departed together to a private room.

Nick recognized one of the Anarchs who had arrived with Obregón as Adam Church, with whom he’d had an acquaintance back in his days as an Anarch. Nick approached Church, who expressed some surprise that Nick was getting his neonate status now, as he’d been Embraced forty years earlier. Nick shot back that he’d spent the overwhelming majority of those forty years in torpor in the basement of what was formerly the nightclub Chummy’s. Church showed further surprise at this, explaining to Nick that most of the Anarchs had believed that Nick had left town with his sire Flint. Nick asked Adam if he could help identify the Anarch that had staked him and left him in torpor, but Church said that he didn’t know who it was.

Maria Conseulo Obregón emerged from her meeting with the Prince and Seneschal, storming out of the building in a foul mood, accompanied by the Anarchs that had arrived with her. As they departed, Evil Eye Richards appeared next to Nick and Noah suggesting that this might be a good time to depart and have a private conversation of their own. The group did so, making their way to a nearby bar, The Varnish.

At the Varnish, Nick expressed his confusion of the significance of the video that Maria Conseulo Obregón had shown. Evil Eye Richards explained how the individual appearing in the video (who Richards said had identified himself as Oliver DeGuzman) had inflamed the Anarchs because he looked so strikingly similar to the presumed-late former Prince of Los Angeles, and that the reported death of that Prince had sparked the Second Anarch Revolt. Richards went on to say that the apparent resurrection of a hated foe of the Anarchs coinciding with the presentation of five Kindred of potent blood to the Prince was viewed by many of the Anarchs as either a provocation or a prelude to particularly oppressive action on the part of the Camarilla of Los Angeles.

Nick said that he was angry that he was being dragged into this, and he wanted to be left alone and out of politics. Looking around the bar, he sought out the loudest group that he could find and aggressively shouted for them to shut up. The group took the goad and it appeared that the situation was escalating into a fight, but when Noah moved to support Nick, the Brujah decided that he didn’t want to get anyone else involved in his attempt to blow off steam. Nick McDuff handily browbeat the group into backing down (and paying for some drinks) before returning with Noah Carver to the table where Evil Eye Richards was waiting.

Richards said that the way that Nick was dealing with stress was a very Brujah way of doing things; the Nosferatu way would be to find out what was going on. With that, he said that Brennos had called a meeting of the Los Angeles Nosferatu to take them to task for being blindsided by the Oliver DeGuzman video, which Richards had to leave to attend immediately.

After Evil Eye Richards departed, Noah Carver and Nick McDuff talked for a while before making their own exit. As they left the building, Carver’s inhuman senses called to his attention a man watching them from a window several floors up across the street. A quick check of the man’s aura revealed him as a ghoul.

Noah covertly pointed out the watcher to Nick, and the pair began cautiously making their way down the street. As the did so, they noticed that a car was trailing them at a distance. A homeless man was sprawled drunkenly across the sidewalk, and Noah spied what he felt certain was a stake hidden in the man’s coat. Noah raised the alarm, and Nick quickly moved to defend them, pressing his boot down hard on the homeless man’s chest. This elicited a panicked response from the homeless man, and as he struggled his coat fell open, revealing that what Noah had believed was a stake was actually a bottle of liquor. The action had, however, spurred the occupants of the car into action, and it sped up to meet the two Kindred, and three knife-wielding men emerged.

Nick McDuff sprung into action immediately, calling on the unnatural physical enhancement of his blood to rapidly disable one of the attackers, leaving the man concussed and splayed across the hood of the car. A second attacker advanced on Noah, but tripped on the curb as he did so, falling and dropping his blade. The Malkavian neonate capitalized on the fumble by grabbing the man’s knife and jumping on his back, holding the pilfered blade to its former owner’s throats and making it clear that any resistance would be met with terrible bloodshed.

The final attacker drove his knife into Nick, but Nick’s supernatural resilience stopped the blade, and the Brujah grappled the man, putting him in a chokehold and threatening to bite his throat out if he didn’t surrender. The threat successful, Nick demanded to know who the attackers were.

S2 Chapter One

It was in the latter half of October with midnight fast approaching that the Kindred of Los Angeles (those willing and able to accede to the invitation of the Prince of the city, at any rate) gathered at the Los Angeles Theatre to witness the presentation of a group of fledglings to the court of the local Camarilla. One year earlier, the region had repelled a Sabbat siege at the cost of numerous lives (or unlives, if one prefers), and in order to replenish the Camarilla’s numbers, Prince Garza had invoked his right under the Third Tradition (that of Progeny) to grant leave to each of the seven core clans to sire one new childer. With their presentation, these fledglings were now to graduate to neonates.

Nick McDuff moved through the crowd, accompanied by his mentor, the Nosferatu Evil Eye Richards. In keeping with the refined tone of the gathering, Richards had assumed the image that he’d borne before his Embrace, which Nick hadn’t seen him do before. Nick thought back to a conversation that he’d had with the Nosferatu musician earlier that evening, where they’d discussed how they’d attire themselves, what message their outfits might send, and what the consequences of those messages might be. The outcome of this conversation was a white tee shirt on which Nick has scrawled the words “FUCK VAMPIRES” in black Sharpie.

Strictly speaking, Nick was not one of the fledglings that had been created following the Sabbat attack, but since he’d spent a few decades in torpor, had little direction or training before that, and had not yet been presented to the Prince, Clan Brujah had petitioned to have Nick fill the fledgling spot that had been granted them. As he and Evil Eye Richards approached where the other fledglings had been gathered, they saw that one of the fledglings and his sire were engaged in discussion with Keeper of Elysium Almira Lim.

Toreador Cooper Thorndike had introduced his childe, fledgling Vincent Jimenez to Lim. During their brief interaction, Vincent had notice that Almira seemed to be giving most of the fledglings more regard than she did many of the other Kindred gathered in the room, perhaps owing to the potency (and thereby, class) of their blood. As Nick McDuff and Evil Eye Richards arrived, introductions were made, and the two fledglings spoke to each other regarding their places in the world. Nick told Vincent about his history and renewed interest in musical performance, and Vincent mentioned that he owned a nightclub and gallery space (Les Cinques) where Nick might have the opportunity to perform some time.

Just then, the group was approached by Brujah Primogen Martin Hoults. Hoults and Thorndike greeted one another with the easy familiarity of longtime acquaintances, and as they shook hands Hoults mentioned to Thorndike that, “All this bullshit will pass.” He then told Nick McDuff that he’d see him when it was time for the presentation, and took his leave.

Cooper Thorndike took Vincent and Nick to a private room to explain the comment that Martin Hoults had made to him. When the Prince had granted permission to each of the seven foundational Camarilla clans to Embrace a single fledgling, Thorndike had wanted two fledglings brought into Clan Toreador, so Toreador Primogen Rafael Novelo had paid a “considerable” boon to Ventrue Primogen Muriel Rice for her to transfer Clan Ventrue’s right of progeny to Clan Toreador. It had been expected that the Toreador (and the other clans) would likely choose to create progeny of ninth or tenth generation, in order to be certain of ease of control of the fledglings. Shortly thereafter, however, Clan Brujah had announced the awakening from torpor of Nick McDuff, and when word broke that the newly risen Brujah was eighth generaton, it resulted in something of an arms race of blood potency, with several of the other clans Embracing eighth generation fledglings. Clan Toreador had accordingly Embraced Vincent Jimenez and Helena. There were, Cooper explained, certain members of Clan Ventrue who now believed that the Brujah and Toreador had colluded to grant the Toreador two members of the eighth generation while denying the Ventrue any, thereby putting the Ventrue at a possible disadvantage and upsetting the balance of power in Los Angeles, and making Muriel Rice look like a fool.

There was, Cooper assured the two neonates, no truth to this baseless speculation. With that, he said that it was time for them to be presented to Prince Calisto Garza, and the group moved into the theatre, where the Kindred were seating themselves.

Calisto Garza made his entrance, accompanied by his childe and seneschal, Luisa Garcia Herrara. The Prince remained silent as Herrara announced him and made welcome the fledglings to the court of Los Angeles. In turn, representatives from each of the clans presented their fledglings to Prince Garza for his acknowledgement and approval.

Brujah Primogen Martin Hoults presented Nick McDuff.

Gangrel elder Gertrude Putnam said that Clan Gangrel had Embraced a fledgling, but that the fledgling was not yet suited for presentation, and that the clan would present their fledgling to Prince Garza when the time was right.

Malkavian Molly Oxenfree presented Noah Carver.

Nosferatu Primogen Brennos presented Dahlia Blake.

Toreador Primogen Rafael Novelo presented Vincent Jimenez and Helena.

Tremere Primogen and Regent Wendy Tran stated that Clan Tremere had found a candidate, but that they were waiting until their candidate reached the optimal mortal age before bestowing upon them the Embrace.

The crowd looked with curiosity and expectation towards Ventrue Primogen Muriel Rice, but she remained silent.

Chapter Five: Better Luck Next Time
A night raid, a bloody mess, a swift capture and a big lie.

Black is for the nighttime
Preys upon the day
Red is for the blood that flows
Like rivers in our veins

When things go wrong, they go wrong in a hurry.

Cole, Gaius and Santi made their way (via Cole’s car) to the El Monte neighborhood that they had learned was the home of hunter Shelly Alana. As they rolled past the apartment complex where Alana was reported to reside, the trio noticed a quartet of similarly-dressed young men standing near the building’s entrance. Noting their dark green polos and khakis, Gaius was able to identify the youths as being associated with local street gang the Rosemead Kings. It was surmised that the Kings had likely assembled to provide Shelly Alana with protection, and so it was decided that a cautious and subtle approach would be needed.

After the car was parked up the block, Gaius slipped out into the night and engaged his powers of obfuscation before making his approach towards the apartment. As he slid through the assembled gang members, he was deceived by his senses. Mistakenly believing that the four young men were unknown Kindred and that they had seen through his supernatural attempts at stealth, Gaius felt his Beast rise up in frenzy. Drawing his knife and calling upon the strength of his blood, Gaius savagely opened the throat of the King standing nearest him, spraying the others with a shower of blood. The combination of violence and vitae awoke the Beast in Santi, and in his frenzy he was driven to inhuman speed. Quickly covering the distance from the car to the melee, he drove his knife through the chest of one of the Kings, and grabbed another and ripping his life away with a wild bite. Cole felt the stirrings of his Beast but was able to maintain his composure. Seeing his friends engaged in combat, however, he decided to come to their aid; he casually walked over, grabbed the remaining King, and tore out his throat.

The three Kindred found themselves covered in blood and surrounded by corpses in full view of the street.

It was quickly decided that the mission to detain Shelly Alana should continue. Cole instructed Santi to stash the bodies in some nearby bushes and get the car while Cole and Gaius headed into the complex to look for Alana. Santi stashed the bodies as best he could, but in doing so recognized one of them as someone with whom he’d attended high school. Overcome with guilt, he sought out a hose and washed the blood off of himself as best he could. Meanwhile, Gaius and Cole found Shelly’s apartment and battered the door off of its hinges. Finding Shelly inside, they quickly subdued her by draining a portion of her blood and carried her down into the apartment’s courtyard, where they discovered that Santi hadn’t retrieved the car. Cole expressed his annoyance at this, and then the group hurried down the street to the car and sped off into the night.

Cole put in a call to Andre Laurent, explaining the situation to the Brujah whip. Laurent instructed Cole to bring the group to meet him and Adeline Leclerc at the safehouse where they’d previously dropped Mitchell Phillips. Upon arrival, the group gave the story of the evening’s difficulties to Laurent and Leclerc. Laurent said that he would have someone look into how much the neighbors had seen and to close up any potential Masquerade breaches. He revealed that research into the two vampires that had attacked the group at the home of Mitchell Phillips suggested that the attackers were victims of a Sabbat mass-Embrace. Laurent instructed Gaius, Santi and Cole to tell anyone asking that the bodies at Alana’s apartment were the result of a second attack by Sabbat raiders.

The gathered Kindred interrogated Shelly Alana. She didn’t know much more than Phillips had; she was unable to identify who had revealed the existence of Kindred to the hunters, nor did she know how to find the third and final hunter, Lev Belski. She did tell the story of how she had for years been the feeding vessel of a Kindred who had repeatedly modified her memory to forget that she had been fed upon, leaving her physically weak and believing that she had a mysterious chronic illness. It was only when the existence of the undead was revealed to her that her memories returned (and even then, quite hazily). Laurent and Leclerc listened to the description of the vampire who had fed on Alana, and identified him as Ventrue whip Devin Aaronson.

Deciding that deflecting blame for any possible Masquerade breach onto the Sabbat was safer than letting the Court at large to know the truth, the group agreed to Andre Laurent’s plan.

Chapter Four: Help Me
A transfer of corpses, a transfer of a prisoner, and a transfer of service.

You gotta help
To make me somebody
You gotta help
To open my eyes

Cole accelerated his car down the freeway, away from the chaotic scene that he had left behind in Altadena. Santi sat beside him in the passenger seat, and Gaius sat in the back watching over the semi-conscious and partially exsanguinated vampire hunter Mitchell Phillips. The car’s trunk contained two vampires who had been unfamiliar to the group before the frenzied combat that had ended with the pair falling to torpor from their wounds. After some discussion, Gaius, Santi and Cole decided that the evening’s happenings should be brought to the attention of Andre Laurent. A call was made, and Laurent agreed to meet with the trio at a Brujah safehouse in the Hollywood hills.

Once everyone was gathered at the safehouse, the situation was explained to Laurent. The Brujah whip offered to take the torpid vampires off of the group’s hands and investigate their origins, and so the group’s attackers were taken from the trunk and deposited in Laurent’s car. Phillips, it was decided, should be turned over to sheriff Adeline Leclerc for safekeeping and to see if the powers at the court’s disposal could extract any further information from him. With that, the two groups parted ways.

While Cole made the call to Leclerc to set up a meeting, Gaius decided to call his Caitiff broodmate, Denis Nevski, to see how he was faring. Denis reported that he his situation was much improved; his wounds were healed, he was out on the hunt, and he had acquired the friendship of a fellow Kindred named Narine. Satisfied that Nevski would keep for the moment, Gaius turned his attention to the meeting with the sheriff.

The group met with Adeline Leclerc, who took possession of Mitchell Phillips. She said that she would let them know if anything more was learned from the badly wounded vampire hunter. Santi, Gaius and Cole also gave Leclerc the address book that they’d taken from the Phillips house. They informed Leclerc of their intention to continue their investigation by seeking out hunter Shelly Alana. Leclerc said that she would follow up with them later to make sure that things had gone smoothly.

As the group departed Leclerc’s company, Gaius received a text from clanmate Molly Oxenfree. Molly informed Gaius that she had a loose end from Hector Mendoza’s past that needed handling, and requested that the group meet with her to handle it. An all-night diner along the route to Shelly Alana’s El Monte address was selected as the meeting spot. The group arrived at the diner, and shortly thereafter Oxenfree arrived with a young woman in tow. Molly explained that the young woman was Stacy Whitter, and that she had been Hector Mendoza’s ghoul before the Malkavian was destroyed by Phillips, Alana and Belski. Stacy explained that she had acted as Mendoza’s daytime go-fer, as well as being the model for some of his artistic endeavors. She knew enough about the Kindred court to know that Prince Garza would consider her too great a threat to the Masquerade to be permitted to live if she was without a domitor.

Gaius asked if Stacy could provide any information about Hector that might be of use in their investigation. Stacy said that she didn’t know much about what had happened, but she did know that Mendoza had a deep and abiding fear of the scourge, Bad Declan O’Reilly. Stacy didn’t know enough to have any idea why this might be, but she did know that Hector had often warned her about the Nosferatu scourge. Reasoning that Whitter’s service to Mendoza had likely imparted on her some usefulness, Santi agreed to take Stacy on as his ghoul. Satisfied, Molly took Stacy and departed, stating that she would get the ghoul back in touch with Santi shortly.

With that, Santi, Cole and Gaius exited the diner and returned to the car to make their way to the home of hunter Shelly Alana.

Chapter Three: Fill the Void
A conditional favor, a revealing interrogation, a mysterious message and two starving monsters.

They want to fill the void
They want to fill the empty spaces
But I won’t let them consume me
With the rest of the lifeless faces

Alexander Colfax Dolarhyde roused from his slumber to discover a message telling him that the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power employee files that he and his friends had requested from primogen Martin Hoults had been forwarded to his email. The message also requested that Cole contact Brujah whip Andre Laurent once he had reviewed the file. Cole set about searching the file, and after some time he came across a promising suspect; a man named Mitchell Phillips matched the descriptions that Hector Mendoza’s spirit had provided the group through the necromantic abilities of Philippa Giovanni.

Thinking this worth checking out, Cole called Andre Laurent to inform him what he’d found. Laurent responded by saying that Martin Hoults wanted the investigation to be kept as far from the court of Prince Calisto Garza as possible. If credit was earned, Hoults wanted it to go to the neonates and Clan Brujah, rather than to the city’s established political dynasty. Cole agreed that he shared this desire. Cole let Laurent know that he’d heard that Kim Lyons was also investigating the murders, and Laurent warned him to be careful, as Kim Lyons was Prince Garza’s great-grandchilde via her sire, primogen Muriel Rice.

Following his conversation with Laurent, Cole got in touch with his fellow neonates Santiago Clemente and Gaius Ferrán to let them know about his discovery of Mitchell Phillips. As the employee file contained their target’s home address, the trio decided that they would take their investigation to Phillips directly.

On their way, a brief stop was made to allow Gaius and Santi to hunt and sate their hungers for blood.

Arriving at the Phillips residence, it was decided that Gaius would scout ahead, and then make ready for Santi and Cole to enter the home in the hopes of capturing Mitchell Phillips. Gaius used his powers of obfuscation to break into the home unseen. He located Phillips who was seated in the living room watching television. He made note that Phillips kept a knife on the table beside him, and then moved to the front door, unlocking it to allow Cole and Santi easy entrance. As his companions barged into the home, Gaius quickly grabbed the knife before Phillips could make use of it.

Realizing that he was caught, Phillips quickly acquiesced to his captors’ questioning. He revealed that his two accomplices were Shelly Alana and Lev Belski, neither of whom were co-workers of his. Phillips theorized that he and his companions had been pawns of an outside force, as each member of his group had thought that they’d been initially contacted by one of the other members of the group, but upon comparing stories they’d discovered that none of them had been the one to reach out to the others. Even knowing that they were likely being used, however, the group had decided to push forward, as they each had personal reasons for seeking to destroy vampires.

Mitchell Phillips explained that he had spent years believing that his wife Carol had died in a car accident, until his mysterious contact had revealed that she had actually been collateral damage in a street fight between two vampires. He also said that Shelly Alana had spent years searching for the underlying medical cause of her ongoing fatigue and physical weakness; whoever contacted her provided evidence that she had actually spent years unwillingly providing blood for a vampire who who subsequently wipe away any memory that she had of the feeding. Phillips said that he wasn’t certain what Lev Belski’s motivation was, as Belski was paranoid and intensely private. Phillips suggested that Belski would be difficult to locate, as he had put in a great deal of effort to get himself off the grid.

As the interrogation continued, Cole received a text message from a number that he didn’t recognize, asking if he was at the Phillips home. Without answering in the affirmative, Cole sent a text reply asking who was texting him. As he did so, he heard down the street the screech of tires quickly approaching the house. Inferring that the approaching vehicle probably presaged the arrival of trouble, the group decided that they should attempt a swift and stealthy exit. As they heard the sound of something crashing into the side of the house, Gaius Ferrán grabbed Mitchell Phillips and drank a sufficient quantity of his blood to render him semi-conscious and unresisting. The group then began exiting the house’s side door as quietly as they could with Phillips in tow.

As they exited, they could see that a cargo van, now sans driver, had smashed into the from of the home. Having exited from the back were two thoroughly inhuman vampires apparently deep in the throes of hunger frenzy. Although the attempt was made to sneak away without alerting the frenzying vampires, Santi caught their eye and they rushed to attack him. The first to reach Santi attempted to bowl him over, which he easily resisted. Santi responded by opening the monstrous vampire up with his combat knife. That didn’t completely stop the rampaging creature, however, but Cole was able to deliver a supernaturally strong kick to the ribs that knocked Santi’s attacker into torpor.

Gaius, meanwhile, used the knife he had earlier stolen from Mitchell Phillips to stab the second frenzying vampire in the shoulder. The inhuman vampire responded by attempting to wrestle Ferrán to the ground in an attempt to feed on him. Gaius held his attacker back long enough for Santi to drive his knife into the rampaging vampire’s spine, delivering a torporific wound.

Gathering the bodies of the two vampires now in torpor and the semi-conscious Mitchell Phillips, the group headed to their car with as much stealth as speed would allow. Stashing the two attackers in the trunk and Phillips in the back seat, they peeled out as they heard the approach of sirens in the distance.

As they drove away, Gaius Ferrán expressed some discomfort with the realization that several of the skills that he had displayed that night were things that he had no memory of having learned. The origins of these talents, and his inability to determine how he had acquired them, troubled him.

Chapter Two: All the Pieces
A hideous stranger, a nervous spirit, a promising lead and a hungry brother.

You can make the pieces fit, but you’re
Just jumping with your eyes closed.

Santiago Clemente, Gaius Ferrán and Alexander Colfax Dolarhyde departed Hollywood Forever Cemetery, heading to the homes of Hector Mendoza and Romina Villagracia to collect personal items belonging to the murdered neonates. Philippa Giovanni had offered to use the necromantic abilities for which her family was famed and reviled to attempt to contact the departed spirits of Hector and Romina, in exchange for a favor to be called in at some later date.

The Mendoza home was a smoldering ruin, but inspection showed that it appeared not to be under the same level of police scrutiny that the group had previously noted at Romina Villagracia‘s house. It was later revealed that this was the result of the Camarilla’s agents managing to cover up the cause of the fire before word spread too far within the police force. Gaius located a sketch book that had belonged to Hector, and he took it to give to Philippa.

The group moved on to Romina Villagracia’s former haven. While Gaius entered to retrieve some of the extensive supply of food that Romina kept on hand for her beloved neighborhood cats, Cole and Santi waited for him in the car. During the wait, they were unexpectedly approached by Cutter, a Nosferatu acquaintance of Romina.

Cutter explained that Romina had been kind to him, and he wanted to be of what assistance he could in bringing her killers to justice. He said that he had been watching the house, and that other Kindred had been by to check it out, but he figured that since Santi, Gaius and Cole were the only ones to come twice that night, they must have a lead. Cole asked who else had been by that evening, and Cutter said that he’d seen sheriff Adeline Leclerc with the Tremere Marcus Kaplan, and then later the Ventrue neonates Kim Lyons and Eric Masters had been by for a little while. Cutter said that he’d kept his distance when Leclerc and Kaplan had been checking out the scene (because he didn’t want to deal with them, and he didn’t think he could hide from Kaplan‘s supernatural perception), but he did sneak in to listen to Lyons and Masters, and he gathered that they investigating the matter as a favor to Romina’s cousin, Ventrue Rochelle Villagracia.

Cole and Santi asked Cutter if he had any further information about Romina that might be relevant to their investigation. Cutter said that Romina had tried to maintain a semblance of a relationship with the mortal world. He also revealed something that wasn’t known to the Camarilla court at large: a body was buried in Villagracia‘s back yard. Years ago she had attempted to create a childer without securing permission from Prince Garza, but her blood hadn’t been strong enough to cause the transformation, and her intended childer died. Romina hid what she had done by burying the corpse in her back yard; only a small number of her fellow Nosferatu had been told about it.

Cutter gave Cole and Santi his phone number and departed as Gaius returned to the car. The trio made their way back to Hollywood Forever Cemetery where Philippa Giovanni was waiting. Using the personal items that the group had retrieved, Philippa attempted to make contact with the spirits of the two neonates that had been destroyed that day. She quickly found that the spirit of Romina Villagracia was beyond even the reach of Necromancy, but she had more success calling the spirit of Hector Mendoza.

According to Phillipa, Hector said that he had been awakened by the sound of his door being smashed open. As diffuse sunlight filled his, Hector’s Beast responded by throwing him into Rötschreck. Through the red haze of fear, however, Hector saw that he had three assailants (“A balding man with blonde hair, a man with curly, dark hair, and a young woman who looked like she might be a Pacific Islander, all wearing Los Angeles Department of Water and Power uniforms”). The trio of home intruders had quickly doused Hector with some sort of accelerant before lighting him on fire.

After relaying Hector’s story, Phillipa said that she would be keeping his sketchbook for the time being, as his spirit was begging her for Giovanni protection from the ghosts who felt that he had wronged them during his years as a vampire.

Now having some idea of where to begin their search, Gaius, Santi and Cole contacted Adeline Leclerc and set up a meeting to inform her of what they’d learned. When they arrived at the meeting, they found that Leclerc was still being accompanied by Marcus Kaplan of the Tremere. Leclerc explained that the Tremere was using his extrasensory powers to assist in her investigation. When it was explained to her what Cole, Gaius and Santi had uncovered, she suggested that they reach out to primogen Martin Hoults, as he had connections at the utilities that might be useful in determining if the LADWP angle was a solid lead.

Cole put in a call to the primogen’s whip, Andre Laurent, and shortly thereafter Laurent got the group a phone conference with Hoults. Hoults said that he would look into securing any information that he could that might be of use in the group’s investigation.

Not long after that call was concluded, Gaius received a call from Denis Nevski, who informed his broodmate that he had been badly beaten by other Kindred while out attempting to feed, and that he was in need of blood but in no condition to hunt until he could heal. Gaius said that he would meet Denis as soon as he could, and headed to Venice with Cole and Santi in tow. As they drove, Gaius explained that he and Nevski shared a sire, but for some unknown reason their sire’s blood had not passed the Malkavian curse to his broodmate; Denis was a Caitiff. Upon arriving at Nevski’s haven, they found that he had sustained substantial injuries at the hands of others of their kind while he hunted as Santa Monica Pier. Seeing that Denis would be unable to hunt or protect himself until his wounds were somewhat healed, Gaius, Santi and Cole each warily provided the injured Caitiff with a small portion of their own blood so that he could heal sufficiently to take care of himself.

Chapter One: Burn Me Up
A pair of fiery murders, an investigation, a party and an offer.

Have a drink from an empty cup
Light a match and burn me up

Gaius Ferrán awoke for the evening to a phone call from Malkavian clanmate Molly Oxenfree, who informed him that the Camarilla sheriff of Los Angeles, Adeline Leclerc had called a meeting of the city’s neonates. Gaius affirmed to Molly that he was interested in attending this meeting, so she picked him up on her way. On the drive downtown, Molly mentioned that she was planning on attending a dance party at Hollywood Forever Cemetery after the meeting was concluded.

Meanwhile, at their respective havens, Alexander Colfax Dolarhyde and Santiago Clemente were amongst the recipients of a mass text sent by Brujah whip Andre Laurent instructing the neonates that attendance at the sheriff’s gathering was strongly encouraged.

As they all arrived downtown, Cole spotted the familiar face of Kim Lyons, a reminder of his mortal days who had been taken by the Embrace shortly after he was. Kim was in conversation with another neonate that Cole didn’t recognize.

Once everyone had gathered, Adeline Leclerc announced that during the daylight hours a pair of neonates (Hector Mendoza of Clan Malkavian and Romina Villagracia of Clan Nosferatu) had been brought to the Final Death as they slumbered during a raid by forces unknown. The sheriff said that until the perpetrators were brought to justice, it was especially important for the city’s neonates to remain discrete in their activities and vigilant towards possible threats.

As the meeting concluded, Cole, Gaius and Santi approached Sheriff Leclerc and made it known that they were interested in offering whatever services they could in the investigation. Adeline replied that although she expected that the neonates would make seeing to their own safety their primary responsibility, any leads that the could dig up without endangering themselves would be appreciated.

With that, Gaius Ferrán told Molly Oxenfree that he would catch up with her later, and he joined Santiago Clemente and Alexander Colfax Dolarhyde as they drove to the Highland Park home of Romina Villagracia. The house had suffered extensive fire damage, and an LAPD arson investigation team was still inside, so Gaius made use of his supernatural Obfuscation to enter and search the house unseen. He found evidence indicating that a small group had hopped the fence in the back yard, kicked open the makeshift plywood defenses that Romina Villagracia had constructed to keep out the sunlight, and thrown a homemade incendiary device into the home before exiting the way that they came.

While Gaius was searching the house, Cole made a phone call to his old friend, Detective C.C. Alvarado. After some light cajoling, Alvarado revealed that the police didn’t currently have any strong leads on the case, but that they thought that it might be an older murder, as Romina Villagracia’s remains appeared to be too decayed to belong to someone murdered that afternoon. Once the call had ended, Cole opined to Santi that it would be best to leave addressing that particular potential breach of the Tradition of the Masquerade to members of the Camarilla more qualified to do so.

When the group reconvened, it was decided that they should join Molly Oxenfree at the Hollywood Forever party in order to provide Gaius the opportunity to hunt. Arriving at the cemetery, they were waved through the line and into the dance event. After Gaius had fed, Molly approached him to let him know that representatives from Clan Giovanni wanted to meet with anyone investigating the Mendoza and Villagracia murders. Gaius gathered Cole and Santi, and the three of them went to meet with Philippa and Mauro Giovanni.

Mauro gave the group space as Philippa explained that the Giovanni talent for summoning and speaking to the dead might be of some use in interrogating the murdered neonates, if they could lay their hands on some personal items belonging to the departed. Time, however, was of the essence, as Kindred often accrue a great many angry spirits who greatly shorten a deceased vampire’s window of opportunity in the spirit world. In exchange for providing the group with whatever the dead vampires could tell, it was understood that the Giovanni might call upon Alexander Colfax Dolarhyde, Gaius Ferrán and Santiago Clemente to do them a similar good turn.

After some discussion, the group agreed.


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