Campaign of the Month: May 2013

The Dark Queen of the West

December 18th 2010


Persons of Interest: Westin Snopes, James Spence, Marie Brey

It has been a long, cold December, with plenty of darkness. The sun has been retreating across the sky faster than ever before, and rarely has a day gone by with any sort of light sneaking through the cloud cover. As such, it is a freezing day when your phones chirp to life, your e-mail application dancing and chirping until you mash it silent. The Invitation illuminates your screen. Little time is left for you to acquire the appropriate attire, but you make due as best you can.

You arrive at The Drake Hotel shortly after the event begins, taking advantage of the complimentary Valet service. Sweeping through the lobby and into the creaky old elevators, you adjust your finery until the doors sweep open into the Grand Ballroom.

Immediately you are struck with a sense of opulence and glamour. Couples whirl about the aged redwood dance floor in somber reds and blacks, their hearts beating in rhythm with each others, paired with the thump-thump of the bass drum coming from the bandstand. An old-style big-band croons soulfully off to the side of the room, catching the ears, hearts, and feet of everyone in the room, seated or not. The windows, stretching at least three stories and constructed of gilded metal, do not display the elegantly rising moon against the backdrop of the Magnificent Mile, but rather are blacked out, with the only illumination in the room coming from the massive crystal chandeliers which sparkle and gleam with mischief and delight.

Even in the midst of all of these people, you find yourself alone.


Marie is in the lobby of The Drake at 5:59PM as the Grand Ballroom doors open. She waits impatiently for at least 5 people to arrive before tapping her phone’s screen to the Notepad function and gliding over to the doorway. She pauses at the entrance, allowing the light to hit her long, V-neck red dress and flashes a charming smile at the closest person. She hobnobbs for the next hour and a half, attempting to glean available information.

Westin arrives very late to the party – around 7:40, just after sunset. Entering, he makes his way to an empty table in a shadowed corner, and orders a drink – whiskey, on the rocks – but does no more than glance at it when it arrives. He grimaces as he looks across the crowded ballroom, and fingers his collar uncomfortably. Events like this have never been his forte, and he strongly considered not coming at all; however, a strange and sudden invitation like thus often contains a hidden agenda, and he wouldn’t want to offend the wrong person.

With a sigh, he picks up the glass and swishes the whiskey in his mouth before spitting it back into the glass. It tastes dull and harsh, reality clashing with his memories of the pleasant burn it used to hold for him. Then he sets the glass back down and starts wracking his brain, trying to remember who he and the mayor might know in common.

{(Status + Intelligence), 1 Success: Westin thinks, and the only immediate connection he makes is to the President of the Field Museum.}

Tucked into the corner such as he is, even in his reverie Westin notices the behaviors of people in the room. There is a group of young looking people tucked deep in one corner, as far from the blacked out windows as possible. Despite the No Smoking ordinance, a few of them have slow burning cigarettes in their hand, the smoke curling lazily up towards one of the chandeliers, yet no-one seems to notice.

Towards the center of the room, by the dance floor, there is a table of people chatting urgently, flicking and pawing at tablet devices, whispering in hushed tones. They all seem to be studying something intently, in unison.

At the bar, there is a gang of apparent frat-men, gawping and making suggestive comments at all the female wait-staff. The bartender seems like he wants to intervene, but remains subdued, quiet and reserved, constantly filling up their drinks.

Ah, the president of the museum, of course! Westin thinks. He scans the crowd, looking for Jack McCarter. Maybe he’ll have some answers for me.

Westin’s keen eyes pick up Jack McCarter from halfway across the room, deep in conversation with a rather striking woman, blonde, with short hair, wearing a smart, gray suit. Attractive, with icy-blue eyes, she seems to have his complete attention. One of the frat-men apparently trips one of the wait staff, either with a foot or some other lascivious gesture. Champagne glasses shatter, causing Jack to snap his eyes away from hers. When both you and he look back, the woman seems to have disappeared. He looks around before catching your glance from across the room. He looks vaguely surprised, and threads his way across the room towards you.

“I didn’t expect to see you here, Westin. Honestly didn’t think you’d think it worthwhile to show up. Glad you did though. There are some people asking around about you. The Secretary of the Smithsonian was wondering if you’d show, as well as an Emissary from the Egyptian National Museum. Seems you’ve made quite a number of impressions.” He pauses to make a rather large impression on his scotch. “Have any luck with finding a publisher yet?”

As Jack is walking across the room, the elevator door slides open, and group of people stop and gawp as James Spence steps out of the elevator, dressed to the nines in an Armani tuxedo, with the radiant Jo on his arm. Jo’s ballgown is long and black, sporting a white rose pattern up the side of one leg. James appears to take stock of the room, while most of the room gazes at him and his date in either envy or disgust, before heading to the bar to get drinks for the two of them.

As James and Jo cause a scene at the elevator, Marie which point she excuses herself from the conversation to say hello. She walks over and engages Jo in small talk.

The bartender sets out a Johnny Walker blue for James and a mimosa cocktail for Jo, who remains by the elevator, looking somewhat out of place. As he reaches for the Johnny Walker, he hears a low, gutteral snarl from the group at his right, the frat-men. One of them has his eyes locked intently on Jo, and another is glaring at James. They seem to be unusually tense.

James gestures to the bartender to send the frat boys a round, and he holds up his glass to them with a wink. While this sets up another round of snarling, James nonchalantly takes the proffered drinks, and moves to rejoin Jo, taking her arm in his while they walk around the room, taking a look at who all was invited to this mysterious meeting.

He isn’t able to mark the Mayor, who may not have arrived yet, but he does spot a figure in a shadowed corner, a man in his early to mid-50’s, with salt and pepper in both his hair and his five o’clock shadow, wearing a nondescript black tux and a bow tie that looks like it was tied in a hurry, sitting with what seems to be an untouched drink. He appears to be in light conversation with the man known to be the President of the Field Museum in Chicago.

When James returns to Jo’s side, he finds her giggling like a young girl, deep in conversation with Marie Brey, his acquaintance from a few weeks ago. Marie seems embarrassed, and Jo flashes James a huge grin. “There you are… what did you get me? I was just telling Marie about some of your habits back at Uni.” She smirks, knowingly.

James laughs genuinely, “Hopefully you’re not telling ALL my secrets to our new friend, Jo. I guess I got you a mimosa, the bartender thought you would like it.” James hands the drink to Jo. “Marie, are you a whiskey girl? If so, I got you a drink as well.” He indicates that Marie is welcome to his drink.

She politely waves him off. “I prefer to keep a clear head at these functions. Never know when someone says something you might be able to use later in negotiations.”

Jo sips at the mimosa delicately. “She’s hardly a new friend, James. After I got of my shift last Tuesday, she and I hit the town. It was a good night!”

Meanwhile, Westin gives the frat-men a disapproving gaze. Might have to try something different for dinner tonight, he thinks. And maybe I’ll be able to get a proper taste of liquor while I’m at it.

As the Field Museum’s president pulls up a chair, Westin fidgets in his rented tuxedo. The bow tie feels like it’s about to come undone, and his collar chafes terribly. How can anyone be comfortable in these things? Nothing seems to fit right.

“Who turns down an invite from the mayor?” Westin says with a weak grin. “Sounds like I might have to say, um, hello to a few people, then. Let them know I’m still alive.” Please don’t invite them to join us, please, please, please. He forces his smile to broaden as he answers McCarter’s question. “Not yet, Mr. McCarter. I’ve, uh, been so busy with the move and getting the, uh, exhibits updated, I’m afraid I, um, simply haven’t had time to hire an agent.”

“If I’ve told you once, I’ve told you a dozen times, Westin, call me Jack,” President McCarter says. “Mr. McCarter was my father!” He laughs at his own joke a bit too hard, and Westin manages to squeeze out a weak chuckle. McCarter doesn’t seem to notice.

“So, uh, Jack,” Westin says, “Would you happen to know why the, um, mayor invited me, of all people? Surely there are others at the museum more deserving…”

Jack smiles in a self important way, before shrugging. “The mayor mentioned that you were in the company of Richard Wells, and he wanted you to feel… welcome here, I believe he said. Favors for friends and all that. I don’t quite know what he means, but you certainly deserve to be here, my friend. I’ve got to go top up my drink! I’ll be back.” With that, he disengages and heads to the bar, passing through the group of Jo, James and Marie.

From across the room, one of the young-looking people is crossing to the bar when he locks his eyes on Westin. He freezes in place, and a palpable tension builds up in the air.

{Westin: (Resolve+Composure), 7 successes. You feel the tension wash over you, your combative urges seeming to decrease.}

Suddenly, the young man lets out a strangled yelp and begins shoving people out of the way, headed for the elevator. He knocks a waiter down, throwing hors d’oeuvres across the dance floor. As he passes through the cluster of James, Marie and Jo, he slams into Jo so hard that her mimosa splashes all over a nearby pedestrian when the glass shatters in her hand. The man all but throws an elderly couple out of the just-opened elevator before beginning to slam the buttons, trying to close the door, his panicked eyes locked on Westin as the doors slide closed.

“Oh sure, sure, Wells. Cheers, Jack.” Westin raises his own glass, then sets it back down as soon as Jack’s back is turned without taking a drink.

Westin sighs as he feels the tension recede again. “Buggering kids,” he mutters. “At least he had the decency to run.” He glances over toward the young man’s companions, praying they’ll stay put, and then toward the victims of the young man’s flight. “I really do not need this tonight.”

With a sigh he rises, and walks over to apologize for his “young, drunk friend,” his own glass of whiskey in hand.

{Awe vs. Composure: Jo (Presence+Expression+Majesty) 2 successes. (-2 from Multiple Persons in one round) = 0 vs. 2. Result: Unimpressed} {Awe vs. Composure: Marie (Presence+Expression+Majesty) 1 success (-2 from Multiple Persons in one round) = 0 vs. 4. Result: Unimpressed} {Awe vs. Composure: James (Presence+Expression+Majesty) 3 successes (-2 from Multiple Persons in one round) = 1 vs. 2. Result: Unimpressed}

Jo immediately flashes Westin a large, toothy smile and starts giggling again. “Oh, it’s nothing! I see drunk people all the time acting much worse. I’m a paramedic, you see…” She idly begins picking shards of the glass out of her hand – nothing pierced, but it sure looks like it was pretty close.

Marie and James seem unswayed by Westin’s charm, however. She frowns at Westin and remarks, “I don’t know how you can casually dismiss that. Neither of you said a word to each other and the kid sprinted away like the devil was on his heels! Just who are you, and what was that about?” Marie crosses her arms and waits for his response.

“Jo, are you sure you’re alright? What a jerk!” James notices the newcomer’s taste in drink and proposes a toast. “To better company than that guy!” He smiles.

Jo looks Marie quizzically. “I have seen stranger things in my time here in Chicago than someone bailing on a fancy party. Maybe not that extremely, but..” Jo flashes another smile at James. “Of course I’m alright! With two gentleman like you about, how could I not be? I would drink to your toast, but…” She shrugs and licks a bit of the mimosa off of her wrist.

Westin does his best to look put upon under Marie’s stern gaze. //Awe again, and then Manipulation+Persuasion to redirect the conversation. Presumably opposed and, judging from Marie’s stats, defeated.//

{Awe vs. Composure: Marie (Presence+Expression+Majesty) 4 successes (2 10-again) vs. 4. Result: Unimpressed} {Redirection (Contested): Westin vs. Marie (Manipulation+Persuasion) 1 success vs. 2 (1 10-again). Result: Steadfast}

“Now, now, there’s no need to get worked up. He’s just an unruly kid I had to kick out of a party once. Did I mention I curate at the Field Museum?” He tries his winning-est smile.

Westin immediately gets a sort of sinking feeling that Marie is not going to back down so easily.

“Say, I haven’t introduced myself. Westin Snopes, Anthropologist.” He offers his hand to each of them in turn. “I’m new in town, and already making friends.” He says, gesturing in the direction the kid ran with a chuckle.

Jo laughs pleasantly, an almost musical sound. “So, like Charles Darwin? There’s not much Anthropology that goes down in Australia. Nobody’s really interested. You used to be a bouncer? That must have been pretty exciting. I’ve started a few bar fights before. You wouldn’t kick me out, would you? James and I would be glad to be your friends, and Marie too!”

“Dr. James Spence, biologist at the Gibson Institute.” James shakes Westin’s hand. “I am a little curious what we are all doing here. An anthropologist, myself, a biologist, the frat boys over there, Marie here who is a… lawyer? Sort of an interesting mix of people. Did you receive your invitation out of the blue as well Dr. Westin?”

“Corporate Environmentalist,” Marie says offhand to James. She turns her focus back to Westin and narrows her eyes. “I don’t like the smell of this. You’re hiding something and if there’s one thing a friendship needs, it’s trust,” she prompts.

“It’s a pleasure to meet you all,” Westin says. He laughs at Jo’s comment. “More like Indiana Jones, if I have my say. Haha, not exactly a bouncer, no, but I do know a good one.” He tips his glass to his mouth, wetting his lips with whiskey. “I’ve been wondering about that myself, James. Really, I’ve just been hoping someone would get to the point – big parties aren’t really my bag. And yeah, my invite was definitely a surprise. I barely had time to get fitted for a tux.” He gestures to his bow tie with a bemused smile. Westin sighs when Marie refuses to let it go. “It’s personal, Marie, and a bit complicated. Another time, maybe?”

“Say, speaking of that bouncer I know, maybe you’ll all join me for drinks later tonight down at Blush? I know the owner, and he’s got a table set aside for me.”

Jo looks at James, pleadingly. “Can we? Can we? I’ve heard so many good things about that club. It’s so hard to get into, and I’ve been trying since I came in, but they wouldn’t even let me in!” She looks genuinely affronted.

James smiles at Jo, “You should’ve said something about wanting to go there, it’s a nice place, I’ve been there a couple times. A little loud for my taste though.” He gives Jo a look up and down, “Although I find it hard to believe that they wouldn’t let you in.” followed by a wink.

Turning back to Westin, “I think I’d be fine with drinks later, although we don’t really know what’s in store here tonight, so no reason to get ahead of ourselves.” James will flag down a passing waiter to get another drink for him and Jo, and will ask if the others would care for anything.

Jo begins blushing and quickly snatches a glass of whiskey from the waiter, hoping to blame it on alcohol over embarassment.

Westin shakes his head at James. “I’ve had enough for now,” he says, swirling his drink.

The group stands about as the music around them at first swells, then dies off, seemingly abruptly, to an awkward silence. They become acutely aware that the group of young people in the corner are staring at Westin with quiet, still intent. They don’t seem to appreciate their friend running off. The frat-boys at the bar likewise, seem rather tensely looking at James, their hair getting ruffled by his actions earlier. A lone violin begins a solo, raising the tension to palpable heights before cutting off at the top of a refrain.

Five steps echo through the great hall, and the room’s attention is brought to the front of the band, where Mayor Viktor Theophilos Whittemore stands. He draws himself up, and as a tall man standing at a modest 6’2”, he towers over the crowd from the grand stand. His hair is slicked back, and he seems to come from a old blood – his mannerisms are relaxed but formal. He has an easy smile, but never shows too much tooth. He stands before the crowd now in a black suit with gray pinstripes, gray collared shirt, vest, and a red tie that seems to call attention to his eyes.

He snaps his fingers once and all residual sound in the room ceases. He flashes a beaming smile, disarming and threatening all at once, and clears his throat before speaking in his low bass register.

“Welcome, everyone, to the Winter Ball. I trust you have been enjoying yourselves, but I imagine most of you are wondering why you are here.” There is a quiet murmur among the crowd, which falls silent at a second flash of teeth.

“Some of you are here for the free food and top shelf liquor. I have to say that’s one of the reasons I’m here, to tell the truth.” There’s a small chorus of laughter, which falls silent almost on cue. Marie, Westin, and James feel the mayor’s gaze settle on them.

“But a few of you… a select few.. are here because you will be a part of shaping a new Chicago. Our town is changing – I say for the better. You will be a part of that change. Each of you has a very important role to play in the events to come. You may not realize it yet, but the blood, sweat and tears that went into the building of this city, they were just the beginning. We are evolving. The city’s needs are changing. You will be on the front lines of that change. You will be my soldiers, my eyes, ears, my hands. You are what makes this city great, and without you, we will fall.” He pauses to take a sip from his glass of scotch, sucking it between his teeth, before continuing.

“Heed my words – these are dark times for the city. Gang violence is on the rise. We’ve had brutal maulings as animals seek to encroach upon our home. Children are afraid to take shortcuts home, for fear that some depraved lunatic will feast upon their flesh. Our police force is understaffed and incapable of dealing with the worst of what Chicago has to offer. It’s fitting, given the history of this town, with the violence and pain that has been here from the start.” He seems shaken, as though vividly remembering something, that his own speech is disturbing him somehow.

“We will not allow history to repeat itself! You will shine the light into the darkness. The worst of Chicago will flee like cockroaches, for we will stand together and make this city an example for the rest of the world!” Visibly shaken now, he drains his glass and slowly makes his way to a door, and out of sight.

No sooner does he dissapear than the spell he seemed to have the crowd under breaks – rampant murmuring begins, people milling arround, discussing the speech. There seems to be a run on the bar, and you see the pack of frat-boys dissapear into the stairwell. The young crowd from the corner stalks past the group, glaring coldly at Westin, and they descend in the elevator.

Jo looks at her companions and blinks rapidly. “That was so spooky! What do you think he means?”

“Spooky sounds about right,” Westin says with a frown. “It was like one of those commercials where you’re really not sure what they’re selling, or even which company sponsored it.” He shrugs and turns back to the group.

“If you’ll all excuse me, I need some fresh air. I’m going to head down for a few minutes. In case I miss you, here’s my card – give me a call if you decide to join me at Blush.” He proffers a museum business card to whoever reaches for it first. On his way to the stairs, he sets his glass down on an empty table.

Persons of Interest: James Spence, Marie Brey
James reaches past Jo for the business card, and taking it from Westin, thanking him for the invitation. He takes a look at the card before speaking, “Well, this seems to be an interesting version of a ‘ball’,” To the surprise of everyone, James actually makes the air quotes. “Let us finish our drinks, and then we can head out and join our new friend at Blush?” James turns to Marie with a knowing look in his eye, while trying to hide it from Jo. “Marie, you must let me get you a drink, while the drinks are on the Mayor.” He will gesture to the bar, attempting to imply he wants to talk.

Marie nods in ascension, leading James away to the bar. “What’s the scoop?”

As Marie leads James away, his eyes slip closed for a brief second, and when they open he feels a small surge of energy. His eyes fill with visions of resonance and harmonies, weaving their way around the room. Looking at the corner the group of kids, he notices a lingering aura of pale blue that drifts along the path they took. Towards the center of the room, with the people who are pawing away at their tablets, there is a joyful resonance, almost blinding to look at – air is vibrating throughout the table with increased harmonics, glowing a sort of yellow. By the bar, there’s a warm red resonance shimmering towards the stairwell, and it seems to remain strong there.

James holds up a hand to Marie, asking her to wait a moment. He begins to focus on the blue, yellow, and red auras in turn, trying to glean any further information from them. With his limited experience with this power, it may not be much but he wants to try.

{Unveiling Resonance – Blue: Intelligence + Occult: James. Pool of 5}

In his eyes, the threads of blue begin to unravel. Picking through the threads, James is able to see strands of gray amongst the auras in the crowd. The blue-gray threads make his eyes chill, as though a sharp wind were coming from them. They begin to swirl into shapes reminiscent of death and undoing before his second sight – pain, sufferring, passion and age are revealed as the blue auras pulsate quickly, then cease to pulse. The core of the aura is the chill blue, with the pale gray fraying at the edges, decaying the intensity.

{Unveiling Resonance – Yellow:Intelligence + Occult: James. Pool of 5}

As his eyes drift from blue to yellow, he feels a sense of compassion and belonging sweep overhim, which is swiftly overrun by a sense of potential danger. The aura seems friendly and golden, but is lashing about the group like an unstable lightning storm.

{Unveiling Resonance – Red:Intelligence + Occult: James. Pool of 5}

As he casts his gaze towards the exit stairwell and the bar where the gang of frat-boys had made their lair, he is startled by the strength of the crimson red aura oozing under the door. It’s almost blindingly vibrant, pulsing out of control, almost like a heartbeat. There’s a sense of uncivilized ferocity about the entire aura.

Meanwhile, Marie tries to remember anything from her earlier conversations with the crowd that could be useful to James.

“Well, I do know that there have been a suprising number of law firms springing up in the city proper, which is sort of odd. Not the usual ambulance chasers, either. They look like they have been around for a while, but I don’t think they really have been.” She muses, before dropping her tone conspiratorilly. “I think I might have heard the word Catalina bandied about, but I couldn’t glimpse anyone in those conversations.”

When he is done, he looks back to Marie, “My apologies, but I figured this was best said apart from Jo, you understand.” He pauses for dramatic effect. “So it seems the mayor has power as well, and either Snopes just happened to be standing with us when the Mayor singled us out, or he does too. Either way, I don’t like not knowing as much as everyone else.”

She shrugs. “Maybe we could find Westin, especially if you think we’re all in this puzzle together. I think he went down the stairs?”

James shakes his head, coming out of his reverie. He looks visibly shaken. In a hushed voice, he turns back to Marie, “Wow… I’m still getting used to these new powers, but… wow. I don’t think it’s a good idea to go after Westin right now, those frat-boys have power. Not like ours, but still, I don’t want to tangle with them. He’s on his own.” James looks back to the tableteurs, “Those guys are… happy, but there is something unnatural about it. Like they’re being forced to be happy. I don’t like this, I don’t understand what all of these aura’s mean, but I know they mean something.” James looks back to Jo. “I think the three of us should try not to draw attention and then head out to meet with Westin, if he makes it.”

Marie nods. “I agree, but the mayor know what’s happening and he may still be here.” Marie scans the room on reflex.

Marie fails to spot the Mayor, but does manage to catch the bartender’s eye. “He was over here right after his speech for a bottle of Wild Grouse. I think he wandered off upstairs – I didn’t quite get to see where he went.”

James thanks the bartender before turning back to Marie, “Maybe you want to stay with Jo, while I go take a look for the mayor? Unless you’d prefer to go, either way.”

Marie smiles her appreciation at the bartender and replies to James, “I definitely want to go look for him. I have a knack for getting information and, if we find him, it will let us bring something to the table later with Westin.”

The bartender nods solemnly before going back to polishing the immaculate counter with a clean bar-rag.

“Alright, why don’t we go and find the mayor, see if we can’t find out something we didn’t already know. I’ll send Jo over to the bar, and have the bartender keep an eye on her, just in case, don’t want her getting into trouble. Be right back.”

James walks over to the bar, waving Jo over as he does so. She sweeps across the room, looking expectantly at him. “Marie and I are going to head up to see if we can’t find the mayor and see what the point of all this was. Will you be okay here for a few minutes? I’m sure the handsome bartender will be happy to keep you entertained.” James finishes with a wink.

Jo grumbles something incoherent before slamming her palm on the counter-top, demanding a shot of tequila, downing it almost as quickly as it’s been poured. She flashes James a smile that can only be described as dangerous before waving him off. There is a distinct sound of a shot glass upending itself onto the surface of the bar.

Marie and James quickly make their way upstairs, proceeding unimpeded through the building. The upper levels seem to be vacant, with no guests staying in the luxurious rooms this high up. Eventually, they manage to overcome their respective vertigo as their ears pop upon reaching the penthouse suite. The gilded entryway has it’s doors thrust wide open. The lights are dim within, but the mayor is visible against the silhouette of the Magnificent Mile. A half full glass is dangling from his hand, ice cubes glistening in the city lights. The room seems to be empty, soundless, except for the occasional tinkle of ice.

James’ eyes defocus slightly before taking on a subtle blue hue. His vision immediately swims as he identifies both Marie and the mayor as persons in the room, and nobody else. He picks up a series of white wisps, reminiscent of a wicker basket, curling it’s way up and around her in some sort of protective barrier.

The Mayor’s aura, however, seems difficult to detect, at first. Then, James realizes that it because the misty tendrils of the resonance that surround him decay and reform with regular rapidity. They seem to be as black as the night sky, capable of blocking out some of the lights beyond, making them seem to almost shimmer before returning to life.

Marie takes a step into the room before saying, “Excuse me, Mr. Mayor. We just wanted to thank you for inviting us to this beautiful Christmas ball. May I ask what made you think of us?”

The glass rattles as he raises it to his lips. “Ah, Ms. Brey… and Dr. Spence is here as well, I wager? I think the fact that you’ve come all the way up here sort of answers your own question, doesn’t it? This city is direly in need of inquisitive minds. Ms. Brey, your mind is much like a bloodhound, I wager – very difficult to divert from it’s course of action once you get it set. And Dr. Spence, a man of considerable wealth and talent, he has a… unique methodology that will serve the both of you well in the times to come.”

James and Marie can make out a flicker of a smile cross the Mayor’s face from his reflection in the glass. “There is too much politicking in this city, even for my tastes. It appears to me that you both have yet to become affiliated with it, and that makes you a bit able to delve into some things that require investigation, albeit leaving you a bit exposed..” The glass falls back to his side. “Not that people of your talents tend to be bothered by a spot of trouble now and then.”

James steps up next to Marie, taking a subtly protective stance next to her (James just can’t help himself). He nods to the mayor his thanks as well. “You seem to be much more well informed than we are. There’s no sense trying to deny… our talents, as you put it. Before we sign on board, I must satisfy my curiosity, how do you know about us?”

The Mayor turns, a smile playing across his face briefly as he silhouettes against the skyline before fading from view as he turns towards you, his features obscured. “It’s not every day that someone climbs their Watchtower. I’ve heard rumors on the street – it pays in this business to keep your ear to the ground. Does the name Ursa mean anything to you?”

He gestures over towards his right. “My private bar stock, if you’d care for any.”

He takes another pull at his drink, sucking it between his teeth. “I didn’t get where I am today without knowing my friends and my enemies. I’d prefer we become the former, if I had any say in it.”

“Why thank you,” James heads over and pours himself a moderately sized drink. He offers one to Marie, who declines by politely waving her hand. While he’s pouring it, he continues nonchalantly speaking to the mayor. “Ursa’s name does ring a bell. I’m sorry to be blunt, but I find not knowing what is going on to be a little irritating. What is it you want from us?”

Marie nods. “We’ve made his acquaintance. Nice enough guy. But I don’t understand why you ask. In fact, why tell us any of this when we could have continued investigating on our own? Why give that speech in front of such a crowd? How do the other guests relate to my friends and I? I know that I have many questions, sir, but you did put on quite the show.” She waits for his response.

{Sense Motives – Marie : Wits Empathy ( Sense Motives) : Mayor. Pool of 6}

Marie gets a sense that the Mayor threw this gala out of desperation, seeking someone to help him.

The Mayor smiles. “To investigate blindly, without hand or resource, can be a dangerous thing.” He pauses in thought. “I gave the speech in front of the crowd because it is completely true. These are Dark times for the city. It just so happens that you three are in a position to combat certain elements of the darkness. We have had more events in the last year than I am comfortable thinking about. Reports of wild animals savaging my citizens during full moons. The Red Cross has doubled the number of blood drives they’re having, and our reserves are still mysteriously low. There’s too much going on, and I can’t get the answers by myself.”

“There are sects in the city, but they take forever with bargains and deliberation, and their cost is frequently too high. I need someone who can get the answers needed to free the city from the forces of Darkness. There is a new power playing here in the city, and it’s disrupting everything. I have a feeling your compatriot Westin may know more, but people are becoming more daring and overt.”

Both James and Marie feel his eyes lock onto theirs, holding their gaze intently before pleading. “Will you do this? Will you find out whom is stirring up the shadows, so that they might go back to flickering at the edges of the light?”

Across the night sky, a dark silhouette plummets, close to the window, just behind the mayor. The plate glass window shatters from some impossible force, causing wind to come tearing through the suite, almost ripping the glass from James’ hand. One dark figure lands directly behind the Mayor, and a dark arm is barely visible in the moonlight as it snakes around the Mayor’s waist – there is a short, surprised yell, and suddenly the Mayor and the being fall together, out of the open window. All that remains of the Mayor is the tumbler he was holding, the ice seemingly suspended in mid air as the glass tumbles towards the ground.

There is a crack of thunder, followed by a flash of lightning. The glittering lightning off of the ice and the glass flash across the front of second creature with blood red eyes, framed against the Chicago skyline. It has landed in a crouch next to where the Mayor had been just seconds earlier.

It becomes apparent that mist has begun to come down outside, and Marie and James both find themselves hearing the klaxons of the fire alarms wailing from floors below, the wails getting louder as they begin activating floor by floor.

“Holy shi-!” As the creature of shadow focuses on them, James tries to remember something useful from the few rotes that he has managed to master. Remembering the mayor’s last word, light, James quickly fumbles for his cell phone, jabbing at it to activate the flashlight app. He points the flash at the creature and attempts to increase the light several orders of magnitude, hoping to stun the creature long enough to run for it.

{Improvised Magic (Forces) – James : Forces Gnosis ( Willpower) : Dark Creature. Pool of 8}

The small LED flashes on, dimly illuminating the room, though the creature still remains in the shadows, the light glinting eerily off it’s blood red eyes. James feels power channeling through his arms, into the phone, as though he were acting as some sort of electrical conduit – the LED blazes to life, becoming blinding in it’s intensity as it becomes sixteen times brighter than before coming to a brief peak at 3,000,000 lumens, roughly 40 times brighter than the sun, washing out the features of the room and over-illuminating the creature of darkness – from what can be made out, it’s skin is leathery and somewhat shiny, but matte on it’s torso. The light gets so bright that it burns an afterimage into James and Marie’s retina, causing them to stagger in the darkness, almost blinded with pain. It has begun to screech and wail, a sound not unlike the high pitched whine of a dentist’s drill. The sound burrows through the ears and causes immense pain.

Marie tries to resist the urge to panic, having first seen the nightmare creature and then having her sight taken from her. She then begins muttering a number of good luck charms under her breath, weaving an improvised spell of good luck around both herself and James, hoping to protect them both from danger.

{Improvised Magic (Fate) – Marie : Fate Gnosis ( Willpower) : Marie and James. Pool of 4}

James and Marie both feel a tightening of the weave around them that releases suddenly as the shreiks of the creature get louder. The release is accompanied by a massive clap of thunder, which is a familiar, almost friendly sound. The weave seems to have dissapeared, but the shreiking seems quieter, somehow.

James grabs Marie’s hand and begins running out the door, using his other hand to trace out a small map in front of his eyes.

{Spatial Map (Space) – James : Pool of 7}

Right when he creates a small X, the weave is sealed into the spell and immediately his eyes flare blue. He begins to detect a faint layout of the building in the corner of his vision that moves when he looks at it. He seeks the quickest way out, with Marie in tow, and they manage to make it down to the party, which at this point is all filing down the stairs in a panic due to the fire alarms going off. James is vaguely aware of the creature persuing them until they reach the first of the people crowding the stairwell, and it backs off.

They arrive at the ground floor in the middle of a herd of people and are ushered onto the sidewalk, the area around illuminated with flashing red and white lights of the nearby firetruck, whose men are deployed to combat the flames licking out of every entrance to The Drake’s lobby. Around the corner, there is a massive cracked portion of the sidewalk with a good deal of blood pooled in it – nobody seems to have noticed this, however, as they are all intently staring at the fire.

Marie glances over her shoulder all the way down the stairs and weaves through the crowd, at times pulling James along to move faster. She hurries to the exit as fast as possible and out the door. In a few seconds of scanning the crowd, Marie spots Jo and waves at her to come over. As Jo approaches, Marie explains that she and James found the mayor, but a third party made a grab for him, which means that they have to leave for Blush immediately.

Jo stares, wide eyed at Marie’s explanation. “Someone made a grab for the mayor? Is he alright?” Her eyes are drawn to the cracked sidewalk and the pool of blood, before her pupils dilate and her eyes grow wider.

“Sorry Jo, time to get out of here, we’ll explain later.” James begins ushering Marie and Jo over to the valet stand, walking them carefully around the entire block to make sure they aren’t being followed. “I’d be happy to drive, but my car would be a tight fit, I think. Marie, would you mind meeting us over at Blush?”

Marie nods, slipping elegantly into her rental before disappearing into the dark void of Chicago traffic.

James gestures to the drivers seat, “Would you like to take the wheel Jo?”

Jo grins, not entirely pleasantly, before grabbing the keys from James, opening the door, slipping into the drivers seat and gunning the engine. James barely has time to get in the car, let alone close his door or buckle his seatbelt before he’s pressed back into the seat, ears ringing with the screeching of burning rubber. It’s only after he scrambles into his seatbelt does his nose detect a not-so-faint odor of tequila.

END OF SCENE

Persons of Interest: Westin Snopes


On opening the door to the stairwell, Westin hears a heated argument, apparently between the frat-boys, cease fast enough so he can’t make out what was being said. They glare at him as he passes on by and proceeds down the stairs.

Westin nods politely as he passes the frat-men, but doesn’t slow down.

As he presses the catch to swing open the stairwell door to the lobby, he overhears the following exchange:

“Look, if that anthropologist was here, Collins is going to find out we were too. We have to get back in there and do something about it.”

“Screw Collins. He doesn’t matter. Maxwell is going to have him dealt with soon enough – then it won’t matter what Collins did or didn’t know. That newcomer isn’t long for Chicago, I’ll tell you that much.”

“Did you see the girls he was with, though? One of them looked quite delicious. Much better than the night clerk.”

Some more dicussion takes place, but it’s much quieter than the original dialog.

Opening the door a bit more allows Westin to peer into the lobby. Scanning the lobby reveals no passers by, and it seems the night clerk is not at the check-in counter. There is a group of four be-suited young men in the center of the floor having a discussion, and one young woman.

Westin commits each of the kids’ faces to memory, then quickly scans the lobby looking for an umbrella, fire poker, or something else vaguely sword-shaped in case things get out of hand.

After memorizing the faces, Westin spots a fire poker near some overstuffed armchairs. It’s a bit of a distance away, but it’s much closer than the complimentary umbrella stand. The fire is blazing merrilly in the hearth to keep off the worst of the chill, though it seems it’s a natural gas flame, as it’s behind a glass pane.

“You are kidding me, right? That biologist looked much more interesting. I’d rather been given permission to take him to Europe instead of his assistant hussy.”

Westin pulls off his tuxedo jacket and unties the bow tie, letting it hang loose around his neck. He eyeballs the kids, trying to guess how dangerous each one might be. He tries to remember if there are any powerful vampires in Chicago that aren’t in the Prince’s pocket.

{Intelligence + Politics: Westin}

Sitting and thinking while trying to pay attention to the kids in the lobby doesn’t seem to net any results. There may have been rumors, but Westin can’t remember anything substantiated. He remains, waiting in the shadows, observing.

“Do you want to take bets on how long it’ll take Big Dick to defect?”

Westin double checks to make sure that the Beast recognizes each of the four young men and the young woman, and then inhales deeply, smelling for blood. The empty front desk fills him with a growing disquiet – where is that night clerk?

There is a feeling, almost like a deep throbbing, as Westin catches the faint whiff of blood from behind the front desk. At around the same time, he feels a bit of trepidation as he senses the taint in each of the individuals in front of him.

“Come on, we have some hunting to do. I’m getting hungry, and we’re not stopping for fast food on the way home. I want gourmet tonight.”

Oh, this should be about as fun as chewing nails, Westin thinks, as the kids turn to leave. As soon as they start walking, Westin folds his tuxedo coat over his left arm, preparing to use it to parry incoming attacks. Then he steps out into the lobby and walks quickly but calmly over to the fireplace.

The kids arrive at the doors just as Westin arrives at the overstuffed leather chairs. Gripping the back of one he says, “Good evening, ladies. Leaving so soon?”

The five freeze, as though electricity were running through their spines. They turn as one, their cold eyes settling on Westin. Any mirth they had been sharing in their camaraderie is dissipated.

”...leaving the ball so soon? Why not run back up and enjoy yourself while you can. It’s nice to see you picked out your last meal up there… which one is it going to be?” The speaker, one of the older looking of the group, grins at you, fangs clearing his lips. His comrades snicker behind him.

Westin smiles calmly at the jittery male by the door – he doesn’t recognize him as the one from earlier, however.

{Entrancement – Jittery Youth : Manipulation Empathy Majesty : Westin. Pool of 6. 2 vs 3 against. Failure.}

The youth stumbles slightly, then seems even more rattled than before, slipping out the door from behind his comrades, running into the night.

Westin braces himself and steps behind the barrier of the overstuffed chairs.

{Rötschreck – Gas Fireplace : Resolve Composure (1 Willpower spent, 3 Dice) : Westin. Pool of 8 + 3. 5 vs 5 against. Success.}

Smiling inwardly, he feels the Beast retreat to just below the surface as he leans back slightly against the mantle of the fireplace, letting his right hand casually come to rest on the handle of the fire poker. “Now, now, don’t get cranky. I’ve just come to talk. Surely you’re not afraid of a few words, are you? Big tough monsters like yourselves? If I’m going to die again, I deserve to know who’s going to kill me.”

His hand surreptitiously tightens on the fire poker, and he prepares to smash the glass of the fireplace if they move to attack him.

The young woman seems to be shocked that Westin moved to the fireplace, and none of them sees that he has grabbed the poker. “Look, fogey – you and Collins’ ilk are not long for the world. Have your words, sure, but make them good, as in a week’s time you’ll find yourself quite at a loss for them. Or a head, for that matter.”

“Fogey! Ah, you wound me!” Westin dramatically claps his left hand to his chest, in a move to draw their eyes up and ensure they don’t see what’s coming. “It’s a good thing I’m not here to engage in a battle of wits, dear girl – only one of us is armed.” Focusing all of his supernatural magnetism, Westin meets her gaze, attempting to Entrance her. “Besides, how do I know you’re not an older woman? Our kind is so well-preserved, and you do look…experienced.”

{Entrancement – Young Woman : Manipulation Empathy Majesty : Westin. Pool of 6. 2 vs 1 against. Success.}

She narrows her eyes at Westin’s barbed comment, before her faces softens. “Old enough to recognize when someone is a threat and when they mean well. I’m sorry if I was rude before, but you know the Kine saying – sometimes, the blood runs hot.” She smiles at you. “What are you doing at this party anyway? I was told you hated large gatherings.”

The rest of her cadre bristles at her sudden change of attitude.

“I do, actually, but I didn’t want to offend the mayor by skipping altogether, you know? And I’m glad I came, now – otherwise I would never have seen your lovely face.” Westin smiles. “Say, I’ve got a private room booked at the Blush, if you’d like to run ahead and meet me there. It’s Elysium, so you needn’t worry about our masters’ little squabbles; no bloodshed allowed. Just tell Richard Wells that Snopes said, ‘If you keep your friends close, and your enemies closer, this one is very close to my heart.’ What do you say, sweetheart?”

Westin almost would swear she blushes. “I’ll be there with bells on!” She curtsies and almost spins out of the room, her erstwhile comrades glaring at her, and Westin, in turn.

“That’s a clever trick, Westin…” The three remaining youths begin advancing slowly, each step calculated and measured. “It’s a shame you’ll be standing her up on the first date.”

“I’ve always been handy with the ladies, I’ll admit.” Westin shrugs. “But we can still be friends, fellas – don’t you think?” He catches the eyes of the nearest of them and tries to Fascinate him as well.

{Entrancement – Aggressive : Manipulation Empathy Majesty : Westin. Pool of 6. 3 vs 3 against. Failure.}

The leader, a testosterone filled boy of about twenty when he Died, snarls and begins running forward, forcing Westin’s hand – the poker comes down with a dull thud as the reinforced safety-glass cracks ever so slightly. Another panicked slam with the poker as the youth vaults over the overstuffed armchairs yields a much more shattering result.

{Rötschreck – Gas Fireplace (Open) : Resolve Composure (1 Willpower spent, 3 Dice) : Westin. Pool of 8 + 3. 0 vs 6 against. Failure.}

{Rötschreck – Gas Fireplace : Resolve Composure (1 Willpower spent, 3 Dice) : Aggressive Youth. 4 vs 6 against. Failure.}

{Rötschreck – Gas Fireplace : Resolve Composure (1 Willpower spent, 3 Dice) : Angry Youth. 0 vs 6 against. Failure.}

{Rötschreck – Gas Fireplace : Resolve Composure (1 Willpower spent, 3 Dice) : Violent Youth. 1 vs 6 against. Failure.}

The two who were advancing on Westin see the glass shatter and the inrush of Oxygen cause the flame to flicker and explode out of the fireplace, igniting one of the chairs. The feathery inferno roars between Westin and his assailant, and casts shadows across the walls as one of his compatriots runs in terror. Westin feels the Beast within writhe up and begin to take control, just as he sees the panicked fear in the boy’s eyes from between the flickering flames of the armchair. However, the youth seems to be standing his ground.

Giving into the fear inside, Westin flees for the nearest exit without a moment’s hesitation. He brandishes the fire poker dangerously, ready to smash apart any obstacles to his escape, living or otherwise.

There is a harsh “CLANG” of metal as Westin slams the poker into the door release, flying into the stairwell. Smoke begins following him, along with the cursing of the two remaining youths that had not yet fled. Westin barges through the door marked “Emergency Exit” just as the fire alarm klaxons start blaring, the sprinkler system tripping on in the main lobby. He can faintly hear the water begin to sizzle against the flames before the exit door slams shut, leaving him face to face with a rather frightened couple who had picked the spot in front of the exit door for a bit of alone time.

The night air feels delightfully cool and lacking smoke, and in the distance, sirens can be heard. A quick glance to the left reveals the two youths round the corner haphazardly, pointing menacingly at Westin.

Westin flees into the night without pausing, the Red Fear driving him to seek immediate shelter at any cost. He darts down a back alley, hearing a solitary set of footsteps before him. Lightning flashes, followed by a crack of thunder, as rain begins to gently mist down around Westin. Just as he’s about to take a turn, the abrasive youth from earlier appears in front of him from behind a dumpster. Westin lashes out with the fire poker

{Fire Poker Attack! : Str 2 2 (for 1 Vitae per turn) 1 (Frenzy) Weapons 4 Poker 2 (as Metal Mace – 1) = 11 dice : Violent Youth. 3 successes.}

The metal poker slams into the youth’s chest, bending it in a screech of metal and pain. He is stunned, and Westin tears off down the side-alley, headed towards the vicinity of Blush.

Westin continues running blindly until he crosses a busy Chicago street and almost gets hit by a car. This draws him up short as he realizes he has had full faculty for the last few blocks, then checks his rented tux for wear and tear, puts his jacket back on, does his best to wipe any fingerprints off of the fire poker and leaves it in a dumpster. Finally, he straightens up, takes a deep breath, and thinks for a moment. With a sigh, he gets out his phone and calls Chad.

“Can you pick up my car from the hotel? Yes, that hotel. Thank you, Chad. No, that will be all. Yes, you can put your bike in the trunk. No, I left early with some friends. Thank you, though. I’ll catch a ride home, too. That will be all, Chad. Okay. Okay. See you then. Bye, Chad. Bye.” Rolling his eyes, Westin sets off toward Blush, catching a cab if it’s going to be a long walk.

Minutes later, as the cab drives off and Westin walks through the doors of the club, heavy bass almost bowls him over. As his sense of hearing recovers, he sees a walking wall of bass headed towards him.

“Westin.” Richard Wells booms, his cane clacking against the floor as he advances. “You look like hell.”

“Then I’ve come to the right place, eh, Rick? How are you? How’s JJ?” Westin extends a hand in greeting. After the initial pleasantries, Westin asks if the young female Kindred he sent ahead has arrived.

“She should have beat me here by a few minutes – I gave her a message for you, to make sure you let her in.”

Richard barks out a harsh laugh before clapping Westin on the back, a stringing sensation spreading from the impact site despite being prepared for it. “Always going after the lookers, aren’t we, boy. She’s inside – I sent her off to one of the isolated tables, so she’s not apt to get up to any mischief. I have one of the Kine bouncers watching her, just in case.”

Westin smiles, but it comes out as a bit of a grimace.

“Normally I’d have left her where I found her, but when five Kindred threaten to kill me, I want answers. She was just the weakest link – well, her and some punk I smacked with a fire poker.” Thinking back on that, Westin realizes that he’s starting to get hungry. “I’m going to get a drink and start asking questions, Rick. If this ends up being as bad as it looks…” Westin sighs, feeling mentally exhausted despite the early hour. “I don’t know. I may need to talk to the Prefect later, though. Is JJ in tonight?”

Richard grunts in affirmation, looking down at Westin through narrowed eyes.

Stepping into the club, the low light normally makes it hard to see, but Westin knows where he’s going. He finds a Kindred bartender and orders a Really Bloody Mary. He takes a sip, enjoying the intense sensation of pleasure it created in his mouth, then downs it and orders two more. Feeling a little more like himself, he joins his “date” in her booth.

Through the haze and dance lights, he makes his way to a private table, where he finds a pleasant surprise awaiting. The Kindred from earlier has managed to get cleaned up since the encounter in the lobby, and now sports a white dress covered in sequins or fake gems, which serve to give the cloth a shimmering quality.

“I was just about to start thinking you’d forgotten all about little old me.” The woman, while somewhat pretty, wouldn’t qualify as beautiful even by the most rudimentary standards. Her apparel is expensive, but it doesn’t mask the inherent ugliness that she has apparently carried around for some years.

“Impossible! My dear, you look utterly ravishing.” He offers her one of the Really Bloody Mary’s before taking a seat. He reaches out and touches her fingertips with his, meeting her eyes directly as he does so. “You don’t show a lick of it, you know, but…I can tell you’re under a lot of pressure right now. Us being on opposite sides of things can’t help – we’re star-crossed, as it were.” He leans in a bit closer, and enfolds her hand. “Will you tell me a secret, my star-crossed darling?”

{Revelation : Westin : Manipulation Persuasion Majesty RP Bonus = 8 dice : Kindred youth (female). Opposed roll vs. Composure Blood Potency: 4 successes.}

The woman begins weeping only, clutching at Westin’s hand like he were her only way to cease from drowning, or be rescued from a fire. “It’s not fair, us being torn apart like this. I don’t know why Rohet has it out for you, but he does. I would plead him to take my life for yours, but I know he would come for you anyway. Why must our un-life be so cruel! Even after death, cannot we be together in peace? Westin, run away with me. We will go together and be free of this madness, safe from Rohet and his schemes to put you to the stake!”

Westin gulps down his drink, and waves for a waiter to bring him another, then turns back to the girl.

“Darling, slow down! Here, take a drink. Now, who is Rohet? Why does he want me dead? I’m afraid you’re going too quickly for me.” He puts an arm around her shoulders as he speaks.

She squirms closer to Westin. “Rohet is terrible! A vile Nosferatu whose empire spans the Undercity. He’s violent, unreasonable, and frightening to work for. He knows so much about my old family, I’m afraid if I don’t help him…”

“Of course, of course, my dear. I understand your position – I don’t blame you, really I don’t. But why me? And why is Prince Maxwell going after Collins? ” Westin rubs at his temple. A waiter comes by with another drink for him, and he nods a quick thanks. “Keep them coming, waiter, but cut me off after eight. No need to overdo it.”

“I feel like I’m missing so much of the puzzle, darling. As much as I want to run away with you, I dare not flee until I know what we’re up against.”

She lets out a deep sob and the waiter shoots Westin a strange look. He stalks off, muttering to himself. “I do not know why he wants to kill you, my love… just that you had the potential to interfere with his plans. You know as well as I that Maxwell despises Collins’ progressivisim – if he had it his way, gangsters like Capone would still rule this town. Please, you must flee with me. We could make it to South Dakota in two nights, and live with just each other and enslave a small town to our will!”

“I am too weak for travel right now,” Westin says. “We should build up our strength and look at things with fresh eyes, tomorrow. If we must, then we can flee then. Right now, darling, I think you need a drink, and I know I need a few.”

Westin knocks back 8 of the Really Bloody Mary’s in quick succession, and then, his immediate hunger sated, begin Fascinating a series of drunk young socialites and taking them into the private Carthian booth. There, he will feed – no more than a point or two from each. He will insist that the girl, whose name he has still never quite figured out, drink from him.

{Entrancement – 5 Clubbers : Manipulation Empathy Majesty : Westin. Pool of 6. 5 Successes.}

Slowly, Westin slakes his thirst, carefully letting his new friend sample the blood, filtered through him. He manages to convince her to take the first sip, though she is reluctant at first. Her eyes flash when she gets a taste of Westin’s Vitae.

{Blood Addiction : Resolve Composure : Young Woman.}

She eagerly comes back to Westin every time, seeking more than he’s willing to let her have. Her eyes are alight with an otherworldly hunger, and it’s all Westin can do to keep her at bay during the feeding. Each time, Westin walks his victim down to a cab, and each time, the victim goes away, blissfully dizzy.

END OF SCENE

Comments

Westin arrives very late to the party – around 7:40, just after sunset. Entering, he makes his way to an empty table in a shadowed corner, and orders a drink – whiskey, on the rocks – but does no more than glance at it when it arrives. He grimaces as he looks across the crowded ballroom, and fingers his collar uncomfortably. Events like this have never been his forte, and he strongly considered not coming at all; however, a strange and sudden invitation like thus often contains a hidden agenda, and he wouldn’t want to offend the wrong person.

With a sigh, he picks up the glass and swishes the whiskey in his mouth before spitting it back into the glass. It tastes dull and harsh, reality clashing with his memories of the pleasant burn it used to hold for him. Then he sets the glass back down and starts wracking his brain, trying to remember who he and the mayor might know in common.

//That last bit would be a roll, using my Status merit if that would help.

December 18th 2010
 

//Apologies if it’s a bit slow to start, but I am waiting for a few other people to have the opportunity to chime in.

December 18th 2010
 

Ah, the president of the museum, of course! Westin thinks. He scans the crowd, looking for Jack McCarter. Maybe he’ll have some answers for me.

December 18th 2010
 

The elevator door opens, fog begins pouring out, and the James Bond Theme begins playing over the loudspeakers. Well, maybe not, but James will step out of the elevator, dressed to the nine’s in an Armani tux, with the radiant Jo on his arm. James will take stock of the room, and then head to the bar to get drinks for the two of them.

December 18th 2010
 

James will gesture to the bartender to send the frat boys a round, and eh’l hold up his glass to them and wink. Then he takes his proffered drinks, and will rejoin Jo, taking her arm in his while they walk around the room, taking a look at who all was invited to this mysterious meeting.

December 18th 2010
 

Marie is in the lobby of The Drake at 5:59PM as the Grand Ballroom doors open. She will wait for at least 5 people to arrive before tapping her phone’s screen to the Notepad function and gliding over to the doorway. She will pause at the entrance, allowing the light to hit her long, V-neck red dress and flashing a charming smile at the closest person. She hobnobbs for the next hour and a half, attempting to glean available information, until James and Jo cause a scene at the elevator, at which point she excuses herself from the conversation to say hello. She walks over and engages Jo in small talk.

December 18th 2010
 

Oh gosh, totally disregard that! Missed a big chunk of the update!

December 18th 2010
 

//Description: a man in his early to mid-50’s, with salt and pepper in both his hair and his five o’clock shadow, wearing a nondescript black tux and a bow tie that looks like it was tied in a hurry,//

Westin gives the frat-men a disapproving gaze. Might have to try something different for dinner tonight, he thinks. And maybe I’ll be able to get a proper taste of liquor while I’m at it.

As the Field Museum’s president pulls up a chair, Westin fidgets in his rented tuxedo. The bow tie feels like it’s about to come undone, and his collar chafes terribly. How can anyone be comfortable in these things? Nothing seems to fit right.

“Who turns down an invite from the mayor?” Westin says with a weak grin. “Sounds like I might have to say, um, hello to a few people, then. Let them know I’m still alive.” Please don’t invite them to join us, please, please, please. He forces his smile to broaden as he answers McCarter’s question. “Not yet, Mr. McCarter. I’ve, uh, been so busy with the move and getting the, uh, exhibits updated, I’m afraid I, um, simply haven’t had time to hire an agent.”

“If I’ve told you once, I’ve told you a dozen times, Westin, call me Jack,” President McMcarter says. “Mr. McCarter was my father!” He laughs at his own joke a bit too hard, and Westin manages to squeeze out a weak chuckle. McCarter doesn’t seem to notice.

“So, uh, Jack,” Westin says, “Would you happen to know why the, um, mayor invited me, of all people? Surely there are others at the museum more deserving…”

December 18th 2010
 

James laughs genuinely, “Hopefully you’re not telling ALL my secrets to our new friend, Jo. I guess I got you a mimosa, the bartender thought you would like it.” James will hand the drink to Jo. “Marie, are you a whiskey girl? If so, I got you a drink as well.” He indicates that Marie is welcome to his drink.

December 18th 2010
 

“Oh sure, sure, Wells. Cheers, Jack.” Westin raises his own glass, then sets it back down as soon as Jack’s back is turned without taking a drink.
-
Westin sighs as he feels the tension recede again. “Buggering kids,” he mutters. “At least he had the decency to run.” He glances over toward the young man’s companions, praying they’ll stay put, and then toward the victims of the young man’s flight. “I really do not need this tonight.”

With a sigh he rises, and walks over to apologize for his “young, drunk friend,” his own glass of whiskey in hand.

//I’ll use Awe (Presence+Expression+Majesty, must meet or exceed Composure) to supplement a Manipulation+Persuasion attempt to get everyone to forgive the kid’s indiscretion. I’ll try Awe again each turn until it works or dramatically fails on each person.

December 18th 2010
 

“Jo, are you sure you’re alright? What a jerk!” James will notice the newcomer’s taste in drink and propose a toast. “To better company than that guy!” He smiles.

December 18th 2010
 

Marie frowns at Westin and remarks, “I don’t know how you can casually dismiss that. Neither of you said a word to each other and the kid sprinted away like the devil was on his heels! Just who are you, and what was that about?” Marie will cross her arms and wait for his response.

December 18th 2010
 

Westin does his best to look put upon under Marie’s stern gaze. //Awe again, and then Manipulation+Persuasion to redirect the conversation. Presumably opposed and, judging from Marie’s stats, defeated.//

“Now, now, there’s no need to get worked up. He’s just an unruly kid I had to kick out of a party once. Did I mention I curate at the Field Museum?” He tries his winning-est smile.

“Say, I haven’t introduced myself. Westin Snopes, Anthropologist.” He offers his hand to each of them in turn. “I’m new in town, and already making friends.” He says, gesturing in the direction the kid ran with a chuckle.

December 18th 2010
 

//Revised the results of the Awe, after further understanding of what it does and how it’s applied to multiple people.

December 18th 2010
 

“Dr. James Spence, biologist at the Gibson Institute.” I"ll take his hand. “I am a little curious what we are all doing here. An anthropologist, myself, a biologist, the frat boys over there, Marie here who is a… lawyer? Sort of an interesting mix of people. Did you receive your invitation out of the blue as well Dr. Westin?”

December 18th 2010
 

“Corporate Environmentalist,” Marie says offhand to James. She turned her focus back to Westin and narrowed her eyes. “I don’t like the smell of this. You’re hiding something and if there’s one thing a friendship needs, it’s trust,” she prompted.

December 18th 2010
 

“It’s a pleasure to meet you all,” Westin says. He laughs at Jo’s comment. “More like Indiana Jones, if I have my say. Haha, not exactly a bouncer, no, but I do know a good one.” He tips his glass to his mouth, wetting his lips with whiskey. “I’ve been wondering about that myself, James. Really, I’ve just been hoping someone would get to the point – big parties aren’t really my bag. And yeah, my invite was definitely a surprise. I barely had time to get fitted for a tux.” He gestures to his bow tie with a bemused smile. Westin sighs when Marie refuses to let it go. “It’s personal, Marie, and a bit complicated. Another time, maybe?”

“Say, speaking of that bouncer I know, maybe you’ll all join me for drinks later tonight down at Blush? I know the owner, and he’s got a table set aside for me.”

December 18th 2010
 

James smiles at Jo, “You should’ve said something about wanting to go there, it’s a nice place, I’ve been there a couple times. A little loud for my taste though.” He’ll give Jo a look up and down, “Although I find it hard to believe that they wouldn’t let you in.” I’ll wink.

Turning back to Westin, “I think I’d be fine with drinks later, although we don’t really know what’s in store here tonight, so no reason to get ahead of ourselves.” James will flag down a passing waiter to get another drink for him and Jo, and will ask if the others would care for anything.

//James is content to see what happens next, he’s curious why he’s here.

December 18th 2010
 

“I’ve had enough for now,” Westin says, swirling his drink.

//Also content to wait for the moment and see what else happens at this party. Will seem a bit impatient about it, though.

December 18th 2010
 

“Spooky sounds about right,” Westin says with a frown. “It was like one of those commercials where you’re really not sure what they’re selling, or even which company sponsored it.” He shrugs and turns back to the group.

“If you’ll all excuse me, I need some fresh air. I’m going to head down for a few minutes. In case I miss you, here’s my card – give me a call if you decide to join me at Blush.” He proffers a museum business card to whoever reaches for it first. On his way to the stairs, he sets his glass down on an empty table.

//I’m going to try to catch up with those kids on their way out – maybe in the lobby, or at the valet?

December 18th 2010
 

Westin nods politely as he passes the frat-men, but doesn’t slow down.
-
Westin commits each of the kids’ faces to memory, then quickly scans the lobby looking for an umbrella, fire poker, or something else vaguely sword-shaped in case things get out of hand.

December 18th 2010
 

//B-E-A-utiful! As a note, you may want to check up on the Frenzy rules – specifically Rotschrek (fear of fire and sun).

Westin pulls off his tuxedo jacket and unties the bow tie, letting it hang loose around his neck. He eyeballs the kids, trying to guess how dangerous each one might be. He also tries to remember if there are any powerful vampires in Chicago that aren’t in the Prince’s pocket. (Aside from Collins. Int+Politics, maybe? Or Eidetic Memory Merit?)

//He will continue to listen and watch from the stairwell until A. he is disturbed by someone else coming through or B. the kids turn and start to head for the doors. When one of those things happens, he will stroll out into the lobby and over to the fireplace (possibly rolling for Rotschreck?). Before the kids make it to the door, he says, “Good evening, ladies. Leaving so soon?”

December 18th 2010
 

James will reach past what I assume is Jo reaching for the business card, and take it from Westin, thanking him for the invitation. He will take a look at the card, before speaking, “Well, this seems to be an interesting version of a ‘ball’,” James actually makes the air quotes. “Let us finish our drinks, and then we can head out and join our new friend at Blush?” James will turn to Marie with a knowing look in his eye, while trying to hide it from Jo. “Marie, you must let me get you a drink, while the drinks are on the Mayor.” He will gesture to the bar, attempting to imply he wants to talk.

//I don’t have the book here at work, but I would like to use my Supernal Vision if there is anything that I might be able to see with it, and I can do it without drawing attention to myself. I intend to do so on the way to the bar with Marie, if she joins me.

December 18th 2010
 

James will hold a hand up to Marie asking her to wait a moment. He wants to focus on the blue, yellow, and red auras in turn, trying to glean any further information from them. With his limited experience with this power, it may not be much but he wants to try.

When he is done, he will look back to Marie, “My apologies, but I figured this was best said apart from Jo, you understand.” He will pause for dramatic effect. “So it seems the mayor has power as well, and either Snopes just happened to be standing with us when the Mayor singled us out, or he does too. Either way, I don’t like not knowing as much as everyone else.”

//If James discovers something vital with his vision, he will omit the line about not knowing what is going on, otherwise, he will comment on what he sees following it.

December 18th 2010
 

Westin double checks to make sure that the Beast recognizes each of the four young men and the young woman, and then inhales deeply, smelling for blood. The empty front desk fills him with a growing disquiet – where is that night clerk?

December 18th 2010
 

Oh, this should be about as fun as chewing nails, Westin thinks, as the kids turn to leave. As soon as they start walking, Westin folds his tuxedo coat over his left arm, preparing to use it to parry incoming attacks (Defense +1 as an Improvised Shield, I hope – probably get shredded quick, of course). Then he steps out into the lobby and walks quickly but calmly over to the fireplace. Just before the kids get to the doors (whether he’s reached the fireplace or not), he says, “Good evening, ladies. Leaving so soon?”

December 18th 2010
 

James will shake his head, coming out of his reverie. He looks visibly shaken. In a hushed voice, he turns back to Marie, “Wow… I’m still getting used to these new powers, but… wow. I don’t think it’s a good idea to go after Westin right now, those frat-boys have power. Not like ours, but still, I don’t want to tangle with them. He’s on his own.” James will look back to the tableteurs, “Those guys are… happy, but there is something unnatural about it. Like they’re being forced to be happy. I don’t like this, I don’t understand what all of these aura’s mean, but I know they mean something.” James will look back to Jo (unless Marie wants to interject here, then I will pause and let her reply). “I think the three of us should try not to draw attention and then head out to meet with Westin, if he makes it.”

December 18th 2010
 

//Westin targets the one that looks the most nervous – or the one who lost his cool earlier, if he’s present – with Entrancement as he speaks.

Westin smiles calmly, and leans back slightly against the mantle of the fireplace, letting his right hand casually come to rest on the handle of the fire poker. “Now, now, don’t get cranky. I’ve just come to talk. Surely you’re not afraid of a few words, are you? Big tough monsters like yourselves? If I’m going to die again, I deserve to know who’s going to kill me.”

His hand surreptitiously tightens on the fire poker, and he prepares to smash the glass of the fireplace if they move to attack him.

December 18th 2010
 

//P.S. Westin will spend a Willpower point to resist his fear of fire on the approach, and another point if he smashes the glass.

December 18th 2010
 

//Marie will wait for James to finish.

Marie nods. “I agree, but the mayor know what’s happening and he may still be here.” Marie will scan the room on reflex.

December 18th 2010
 

“Fogey! Ah, you wound me!” Westin dramatically claps his left hand to his chest, in a move to draw their eyes up and ensure they don’t see what’s coming. “It’s a good thing I’m not here to engage in a battle of wits, dear girl – only one of us is armed.” Focusing all of his supernatural magnetism, Westin meets her gaze, attempting to Entrance her. “Besides, how do I know you’re not an older woman? Our kind is so well-preserved, and you do look…experienced.”

December 18th 2010
 

James will thank the bartender before turning back to Marie, “Maybe you want to stay with Jo, while I go take a look for the mayor? Unless you’d prefer to go, either way.”

December 18th 2010
 

I smile my appreciation at the bartender and reply to James, “I definitely want to go look for him. I have a knack for getting information and, if we find him, it will let us bring something to the table later with Westin.”

December 18th 2010
 

//Above post was by Marie.

December 18th 2010
 

“I do, actually, but I didn’t want to offend the mayor by skipping altogether, you know? And I’m glad I came, now – otherwise I would never have seen your lovely face.” Westin smiles. “Say, I’ve got a private room booked at the Blush, if you’d like to run ahead and meet me there. It’s Elysium, so you needn’t worry about our masters’ little squabbles; no bloodshed allowed. Just tell Richard Wells that Snopes said, ‘If you keep your friends close, and your enemies closer, this one is very close to my heart.’ What do you say, sweetheart?”

December 18th 2010
 

//Sorry, busy weekend :).

“Okay, sounds good Marie, I’ll stay here and keep an eye on Jo, don’t want to leave her alone with everything going on. Don’t take too long, if I don’t hear from you in 20 minutes, I’m going to go looking for you.” James will bid good luck to Marie (Unless Marie wishes to add something here) before heading back over to Jo. “I know you’re itching to get out of this stuff party and head over to blush, Jo, but Marie just wanted to go and ask the mayor a couple of questions. We’ll be out of here soon, until then, lets enjoy the free hors d’oeuvres.” James will try to placate her with a winning smile.

December 18th 2010
 

//Ignore the previous post, changing it up a bit.

“Alright, why don’t we go and find the mayor, see if we can’t find out something we didn’t already know. I’ll send Jo over to the bar, and have the bartender keep an eye on her, just in case, don’t want her getting into trouble. Be right back.” I’ll walk over to the bar, and wave Jo over. “Marie and I are going to head up to see if we can’t find the mayor and see what the point of all this was. Will you be okay here for a few minutes? I’m sure the handsome bartender will be happy to keep you entertained.” James finishes with a wink. (James intends on leaving Jo at the bar for a short time, and heading off with Marie to find the mayor.)

December 18th 2010
 

I want to focus my sight on the room again, before approaching the mayor.

December 18th 2010
 

“I’ve always been handy with the ladies, I’ll admit.” Westin shrugs. “But we can still be friends, fellas – don’t you think?” He catches the eyes of the nearest of them and tries to Fascinate him as well.

//Regardless of whether it works, as soon as one of the young men approaches to within 10 yards or so, Westin smashes the glass of the fireplace in an attempt to trigger a general Fear Frenzy. As noted before, he will spend 1 Willpower to aid his initial roll to resist it.

December 18th 2010
 

//{O.o} Boy, that Mage Sight sure reveals some weird stuff.

Giving into the fear inside, Westin flees for the nearest exit without a moment’s hesitation. He brandishes the fire poker dangerously, ready to smash apart any obstacles to his escape, living or otherwise.

//I assume the fire alarm is about to go off, now? Hilarious! I’m assuming that I’m cut off from the main doors, so if there was an emergency exit in the stairwell, Westin would probably take that. Otherwise, any handy window will do.

December 18th 2010
 

Marie will take a step into the room and say, “Excuse me, Mr. Mayor. We just wanted to thank you for inviting us to this beautiful Christmas ball. May I ask what made you think of us?”

December 18th 2010
 

//Oooh, fun times! Should the youths catch up to him, Westin swings for the bleachers: Str 2 + 2 (for 1 Vitae per turn) + 1 (Frenzy) + Weapons 4 + Poker 2 (as Metal Mace – 1) = 11 dice.

Westin flees into the night without pausing, the Red Fear driving him to seek immediate shelter at any cost.

December 18th 2010
 

James will step up next to Marie, taking a subtly protective stance next to her (James just can’t help himself). He will nod to the mayor his thanks as well. “You seem to be much more well informed than we are. There’s no sense trying to deny… our talents, as you put it. Before we sign on board, I must satisfy my curiosity, how do you know about us?”

December 18th 2010
 

Westin continues running blindly until the Storyteller decides he’s done running, then checks his rented tux for wear and tear, puts his jacket back on, does his best to wipe any fingerprints off of the fire poker and leaves it in a dumpster. Finally, he straightens up, takes a deep breath, and thinks for a moment. With a sigh, he gets out his phone and calls Chad.

“Can you pick up my car from the hotel? Yes, that hotel. Thank you, Chad. No, that will be all. Yes, you can put your bike in the trunk. No, I left early with some friends. Thank you, though. I’ll catch a ride home, too. That will be all, Chad. Okay. Okay. See you then. Bye, Chad. Bye.” Rolling his eyes, Westin sets off toward Blush, catching a cab if it’s going to be a long walk.

December 18th 2010
 

“Why thank you,” James will head over and pour himself a moderately sized drink. He will offer one to Marie, who will presumably decline. While he’s pouring it, he will continue nonchalantly speaking to the mayor. “Ursa’s name does ring a bell. I’m sorry to be blunt, but I find not knowing what is going on to be a little irritating. What is it you want from us?”

December 18th 2010
 

“Then I’ve come to the right place, eh, Rick? How are you? How’s JJ?” Westin extends a hand in greeting. After the initial pleasantries, Westin asks if the young female Kindred he sent ahead has arrived.

“She should have beat me here by a few minutes – I gave her a message for you, to make sure you let her in.

December 18th 2010
 

//I will use my “Motives” specialty. Please clarify the Mayor’s motives for telling Marie, James, and Westin his intentions.

Marie nods. “We’ve made his acquaintance. Nice enough guy. But I don’t understand why you ask. In fact, why tell us any of this when we could have continued investigating on our own? Why give that speech in front of such a crowd? How do the other guests relate to my friends and I? I know that I have many questions, sir, but you did put on quite the show.” She will wait for his response.

December 18th 2010
 

Westin smiles, but it comes out as a bit of a grimace.

“Normally I’d have left her where I found her, but when five Kindred threaten to kill me, I want answers. She was just the weakest link – well, her and some punk I smacked with a fire poker.” Thinking back on that, Westin realizes that he’s starting to get hungry. “I’m going to get a drink and start asking questions, Rick. If this ends up being as bad as it looks…” Westin sighs, feeling mentally exhausted despite the early hour. “I don’t know. I may need to talk to the Prefect later, though. Is JJ in tonight?”


After speaking with Wells, Westin finds a Kindred bartender and orders a Really Bloody Mary. He takes a sip, enjoying the intense sensation of pleasure it created in his mouth, then downs it and orders two more. Feeling a little more like himself, he joins his “date” in her booth.

//Blood from a refrigerated blood pack warmed up, and poured into a glass with a celery stalk and a couple of plastic ice cubes.

“Impossible! My dear, you look utterly ravishing.” He offers her one of the Really Bloody Mary’s before taking a seat. He reaches out and touches her fingertips with his, meeting her eyes directly as he does so. “You don’t show a lick of it, you know, but…I can tell you’re under a lot of pressure right now. Us being on opposite sides of things can’t help – we’re star-crossed, as it were.” He leans in a bit closer, and enfolds her hand. “Will you tell me a secret, my star-crossed darling?”

//I’ll use Revelation (Manip+Persu+Maj for 7, opposed roll vs. Comp+BP). All the powers are coming out tonight.

December 18th 2010
 

“Holy shi-!” As the creature of shadow focuses on them, James will try to remember something useful from the few rotes that he has managed to master. Remembering the mayor’s last word, light, James will fumble quickly for his cell phone, and flip on the flashlight app (that turns on the camera’s flash). He will point the flash at the creature and attempt to increase the light several orders of magnitude, hopefully stunning the creature long enough to run for it. (Attempting to improvise Control Light. Forces 2 + Gnosis 3 + 3 bonus for willpower spent)

December 18th 2010
 

Westin gulps down his drink, and waves for a waiter to bring him another, then turns back to the girl.

“Darling, slow down! Here, take a drink. Now, who is Rohet? Why does he want me dead? I’m afraid you’re going too quickly for me.” He puts an arm around her shoulders as he speaks.

December 18th 2010
 

“Of course, of course, my dear. I understand your position – I don’t blame you, really I don’t. But why me? And why is Prince Maxwell going after Collins? " Westin rubs at his temple. A waiter comes by with another drink for him, and he nods a quick thanks. “Keep them coming, waiter, but cut me off after eight. No need to overdo it.”

“I feel like I’m missing so much of the puzzle, darling. As much as I want to run away with you, I dare not flee until I know what we’re up against.”

December 18th 2010
 

James then will follow that up attempting to use the spatial map spell to get his bearings (7 dice pool) and use that to find the quickest safest route out, while he hopes that the creature is more stunned than he is. Regardless of if the spatial map spell is successful, James will attempt to find Marie’s hand and begin running back the way they came, through the party. (Unless there is something that Marie would like to do, she should have a chance to take an action before James).

December 18th 2010
 

Marie will try to resist the urge to panic, then cast an improvised spell of good luck to both herself and James from attacks.

December 18th 2010
 

Marie glances over her shoulder all the way down the stairs and weaves through the crowd, at times pulling James along to move faster. She hurries to the exit as fast as possible and out the door. In a few seconds of scanning the crowd, Marie spots Jo and waves at her to come over. As Jo approaches, Marie will explain that she and James found the mayor, but a third party made a grab for him and that we have to leave for Blush immediately.

December 18th 2010
 

//That last one was typed by Jen

December 18th 2010
 

“Sorry Jo, but there is not time to explain! Once we’re out of here, we’ll try.” James will head away from the cracked sidewalk, and attempt to hail a cab away from the gawking crowd. He’ll tell the driver to head for Blush as fast as possible. (unless anything needs to happen first)

December 18th 2010
 

“I am too weak for travel right now,” Westin says. “We should build up our strength and look at things with fresh eyes, tomorrow. If we must, then we can flee then. Right now, darling, I think you need a drink, and I know I need a few.”

Westin will knock back 8 of the Really Bloody Mary’s in quick succession, and then, his immediate hunger sated, begin Fascinating a series of drunk young socialites and taking them into the private Carthian booth. There, he will feed – no more than a point or two from each. He will insist that the girl, whose name he has still never quite figured out, drink from him.

//Westin will need to Fascinate probably 5 or so drunk young clubbers and feed on them, taking no more than 2 points from any one. He will insist that the girl drink at least 4 points from him, in order to establish a Vinculum per the rules for Blood Addiction on p158 and Vinculum on p161. Ideally, this should take no more than 20 odd minutes to complete. Westin will also call cabs for all of his victims and send them home after.

December 18th 2010
 

//change of plans for how James wants to end the scene, realizing just how upset Jo was getting ;) this is instead of my previous post.

“Sorry Jo, time to get out of here, we’ll explain later.” James will begin ushering Marie and Jo over to the valet stand (which I’ve decided is on the other side of the building ;). "I’d be happy to drive, but my car would be a tight fit, I think. Marie, would you mind meeting us over at Blush? (provided nothing comes up, when the valet brings my car around) I will gesture to the drivers seat, “Would you like to take the wheel Jo?”

December 18th 2010
Rase Cidraen gaaran

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