Campaign of the Month: May 2013

The Dark Queen of the West

December 18th 2010 - Blush


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

For James, the drive to Blush has been a harrowing one, filled with run stop signs, red lights, yellow lights, narrowly avoided trucks, SUVs, and old ladies. His driver, Jo, is cackling with the sort of mad glee that only comes when driving a sports car at night, through a busy city, with no headlights on, with a brain addled with tequila. It’s just a matter of time before flashing blue lights and sirens begin pursuing the couple, pulling them over right in front of the nightclub – Blush. The officer gets out of the car and begins the slow walk to the drivers side door, avoiding glancing at the clubgoers standing in a queue to get into the building. For a cold winter’s night, there’s an awful lot of skin being shown in line.


For Marie, it’s a short drive, but confusing, as she misses a few one-way streets and has to back track a little. During one wrong turn, she swears she sees a dark shadow flit from alley to alley, causing her to gun it in the opposite direction. She gets to Blush without incident, and the valet takes her car without complaint. She’s only waiting for a handful of minutes before flashing blue lights appear, chasing a familiar looking car.


For Westin, his hunger now slaked, it has been an agonizing time getting rid of his last donor, as his Thrall is constantly pawing at him, trying to convince him using any means necessary for just one more taste. His ire is just beginning to rise at her persistance when he sees blue lights light up the windows outside, followed by the unmistakable sound of a police siren.

“Sit, girl! Stay!” Westin grins, attempting to conceal his annoyance with teasing. Hunger sated, he feels much calmer, if no more in control. “I need to take a walk, and you need to hold the table so that it will be here when I get back. Understand? And if Wells or JJ comes by, tell them I’ll be back shortly. You’re not to reveal your feelings for me, okay? They might get, um, jealous.” Westin nods, feigning confidence, and takes the listless party girl sitting on his other side by the arm, helping her to stand and walk toward the exit.

He spares a glance back at the table to verify that his commands are being obeyed before exiting the club, drunk girl stumbling at his side.

His glance causes the girl to freeze in place, mid-slink, some few feet behind him. Westin’s withering glare sends her scurrying back to the table, muttering protestations. He can almost hear her say, before slipping out of range, “It’s not fair… I have to stay at the table while he galavants off with that sl—”

As he passes through the door, he sees Richard standing outside the door, speaking in soft tones with a woman with close cut blonde hair whose cold blue eyes seem to burn Westin when she glances in his direction. Shying away instinctively, he notices Wells giving him a strange, scrutinizing glance. He makes it to the front of the club, dropping the girl off at the taxi stand, while he notices a police officer framed against the flashing blue lights of his cop car, sidling up alongside a rather expensive looking sports car with a very intoxicated female driver.

“Well, I suppose this was bound to happen Jo… just let me handle it.” Ignoring Jo’s derisive snort and thinking quickly, James looks back to the cop car as they come to a halt, seeing the large 989 printed across the hood. James concentrates on the forces swirling around him, feeling static and noise well up in his head. His ears become flooded with noise, his eyes distant. Tiny beads of sweat appear on his forehead as he works to to separate the frequency of car 989’s radio from the innumerable waves flooding chicago’s streets.

{Improvised Magic (Forces) – James : Forces & Gnosis (& Willpower) : Police Radio band 989. Pool of 8}

There is a squeal and burst of static as James singles out the frequency of the Police Officer’s shoulder radio. The officer glances down at it, pausing in the slow walk along the car.

Over the now hijacked radio, James attempts to impersonate a police dispatcher as well as he can.

{Impersonation (Dispatch) – James : Wits & Manipulation : Police Radio band 989. Pool of 4}

“989, this is dispatch, there is a report of multiple shots fired at the corner of Huron and Ashland. Back-up is en route. At least one civillian is reported down.”

The cop startles slightly as his radio comes to life, before staring at it quizzically. “10-4 BK… That’s a 10-30, though buddy. Tighten up that discipline. Is there an 11-99 on site? I have a 10-94 here at Blush, license plate garbled . Send Traffic over for a speeding ticket?”

“Sorry, sir, but you’re the closest officer to the scene. I’ll have traffic over there shortly.” James attempts to sound like a dispatcher that is about to suggest what a cop should do and be timid about it. “And, uh, sir? The 911 call sounded urgent, well, even more than usual.”

“Damnit, BK! Fine… Get Traffic here now.” The cop stomps off and clambers into the car, peeling out with sirens blaring faster than Jo took off earlier.

Jo, hands still on the wheel, is staring straight ahead. ”...James? That was wierd… Did you hear that? It sounded…”

“I know… that was really weird. That dispatcher sounded just like me!” James pretends to laugh a little. “Lucky for us though, huh? Shall we head inside? I feel like I have something to make up to you,” James winks at Jo.

She throws him a smile, then gets out of the car, wobbling a bit as she does, trying to find her balance in her heels. The keys slip out of her hand, into the valet’s. Looking past his tipsy date, James spots Marie standing impatiently by the line of twenty-somethings and Westin by the taxi stand.

James slips the Valet a Benjamin, leans close and whispers, “Unless I come back for it, you don’t have a MacLaren in the parking lot.” James nods back to where the cop car went.

The valet’s eyes get so wide they threaten to engulf his bushy eyebrows, before looking at the bill, nodding and smiling at James. “Yes sir, of course sir.” He reverently takes the keys to the car as James disengages from the Valet and heads over to Marie.

As he puts his arm around Jo, he feels her stumble a bit, “Hello again, we managed to make it in one piece. Sorry to keep you waiting, that was a spot of luck with the cop, wasn’t it?” James throws Marie a knowing smile. “Shall we go meet up with Westin, I believe he said he had a booth?”

Marie turns to James as he walks away from the car and says, “You’ll have to tell me sometime how you avoided that ticket.” She looks toward the club’s entrance, dreading the line, and spots Westin. Marie nudges Jo and nods at Westin, waving.

With a tight smile, Westin helps the drunk girl into a taxi and hands the driver a twenty.

“Make sure she gets home safe, all right?”

The cabbie grunts in agreement and drives off with the drunk girl in the back seat singing along with the radio, waving absentmindedly at Westin.

Westin straightens and stretches a bit, watching curiously as the police car drives off in an almighty hurry. Only then does he notice James, Marie, and Jo. He stiffens in surprise, sighs, and smacks himself in the forehead with the palm of his hand.

“…stupid, stupid, stupid…” He mutters quietly. Knowing he’ll have no chance to walk back into the club without being seen – assuming they haven’t already recognized him – he realizes that he’ll have to spend the rest of the night keeping up the Masquerade rather then resolving his current predicament. He sighs with a mixture of frustration and relief, then composes himself and approaches the group.

“I do indeed have a private table, assuming my friend remembered to hold it for me.” He smiles. “How was the rest of the ball?”

James nods at Westin’s approach, “It was… eventful. I’ll fill you in when we’re somewhere more private. Shall we head inside, and see if your friend remembered? If not, I’m sure I could drum up a table.” James smiles and takes Jo by the waist, ready to head inside.

Westin leads the way into the club, and just as James steps across the threshold, he hears the beginning of an old song out on the street, followed by the screeching of tires, and his phone beeps in recognition. Checking it, he sees that an app has identified the song.

James turns back at the sound of the music, wondering why the Valet had it on a CD. Just in case this happens James thinks. He turns just in time to see his car go airborne over a small hill with the 80s music blasting.

Marie follows James, Jo, and Westin inside the club.

At the entrance, there is a huge burly black man, vested in a suit, who seems to be invested in conversation with the same blonde woman Westin saw earlier. As Marie, James, Jo and Westin whisk by, James and Marie can’t help but feel that the woman seems familiar to them.

“Good thing I have insurance…” James mutters to himself while walking into the club. As he walks past the bouncer, he nods, “Nice Vest.”

The bouncer grunts at James. “Nice car.”

James and Jo will follow Westin to his private table. “Well Westin, I assume you have bottle service? I think Jo looks thirsty.”

As they weave their way through the crowd of sweating dancers, they find the private booth occupied by a not-very-pretty-but-almost woman who has a quiet, smouldering look about her. The moment she spies Westin, her face lights up with an almost feral grin. “Honey! I thought you were gone from me forever. Did you go for take out? JJ came by to see if you were about, but I told him to come back because you were off looking at wedding rings.” She fairly rushes at Westin a bit faster than most would expect and throws him into a rather rough embrace.

When the woman pounces on Westin, James just gives him a wry look. “Wedding Rings?”

Jo nudges James meaningfully, smiling wistfully, ordering a whiskey sour from a passing waiter.

Marie raises her eyebrows at Westin and grins, “I’m so happy for you two. When is the wedding?”

In his thrall’s ear, Westin whispers, “Control yourself.”

The woman slumps back into the booth, frowning unhappilly, fighting to restrain her fidgeting.

Turning back to the others, Westin smiles gamely, hoping the dim lighting hides the strain behind it. “She’s joking, of course. We’ve only just met. Please, sit, relax.” He waits for everyone else to sit before seating himself. “Now what’s this about bottle service?” Westin signals a waiter. Once everyone’s drinking needs have been seen to, Westin decides to make small talk.

“Say, did any of you recognize that blond woman talking to the bouncer when we came in? She was at the ball, too, I could swear it.”

James responds, halfheartedly batting away Jo’s feeble attempts to get at his drink after she finished her own a bit too quickly. “I must say, she did look awfully familiar. Does the name Catalina ring a bell?”

Marie gives an unladylike snort at James’ statement, “Catalina. That’s the woman who was harassing Dan about ensuring her logging rights in Cook County. Very much of an ice queen. I don’t trust her.” Marie glares at her appletini before taking a rather large gulp of it.

Thinking back, James strains to remember the conversations he had with Catalina on his date. It becomes more and more apparent that the girl talking to the bouncer was either Catalina, or her body double.

“How much have you heard about what happened at the ball, Westin? I’m not sure if you left before the big… commotion.”

Jo snorts at James. “Left is right! Left at the ball, all alone! You boys talk. I’m going to dance. Do you want to go dance, Marie? No? That’s Okay.” She somehow manages to stand up, wobbling a bit as she takes her heels off and puts them on the table, taking one last drink from a passing waiter and storming off onto the dance floor, determined to have a good time.

Marie gives Jo a confused look as the other woman leaves without waiting for Marie’s response. She’ll turn to James and Westin with a slightly worried look, “She’s still a little upset from earlier.”

James watches Jo go, making sure she can at least walk out to the dance floor. He notes that while she sways a bit more than usual, out of her heels her balance improves tenfold. Once she’s out of ear shot, he comments, “Sorry about Jo, although I suppose it’s my fault. She just came along to go to a fancy party, not… whatever that was. As far as the blond woman, I’m almost certain that’s Catalina Muroe, I uh… went on a date with her a couple of weeks ago, before she dropped off the map.”

“Catalina? I’m afraid not.” Westin sips at a Bloody Mary. “Commotion, eh? Somebody make a scene? No, I left pretty quickly. My friends were kind enough to drop me off here, but it looks like they didn’t want to come out tonight.” He gives his companion a smile. “Except you, of course, dear.” His companion beams at the attention.

Marie shifts her focus to Westin, “So Westin, seeing as this is a more private location, do you mind telling us what caused the young man from the party to flee at the sight of you? I believe it was “personal”? And how do you know the mayor? He mentioned you before he…before his disappearance.”

Westin groans inwardly at Marie’s question, and covers it by quickly downing the rest of his drink and calling for another. “Well…you see…the thing is…” Westin glances helplessly over at his female companion, hoping she’ll help him out.

“That was my ex,” she says, putting a surprisingly strong arm around Westin’s shoulders. “He’s been giving me a hard time the last few months, but darling Westin here showed him what’s what. Didn’t you, my big tough man?” Westin coughs uncomfortably as she squeezes him close and kisses his cheek.

“I suppose I did,” he says, thinking back to the scene in the hotel lobby. Then he does a double take. “Wait just a moment, the mayor disappeared? What? That’s…” He struggles to find the right word. “That’s terrible! I don’t – didn’t – know him, actually. We just share a mutual acquaintance. Disappeared?” He shakes his head in shock.

James will lean in conspiratorially, “I don’t think disappeared is the right word. I think I would say… snatched.” He will pause for dramatic effect and look between Westin and his girl, wondering if he should continue.

The girl on Westin’s arm narrows her eyes at James’ tones. “Snatched? Like Black Ops? Someone kidnapped him? Is he okay?” She doesn’t seem overly concerned about the Mayor’s fate.

Marie responds to Westin’s guest, “We’re not sure who took him, but there was an awful large pool of blood on the sidewalk below with no body. He may be dead or gravely injured. It’s too soon to tell. I don’t suppose you know if the Mayor had enemies who could accomplish such a kidnapping?” Noticing the lack of genuine concern earlier from Westin’s companion, Marie concentrates and attempts to discern any falsehood from Westin and his companion.

James leans forward, “Westin, what do you know about why we were invited to the ball, and perhaps why we seemed to be the focus of his little speech?”

{Spotting Lies – Marie : Wits & Subterfuge (& Spotting Lies) : Westin and Thrall. Pool of 7}

“Ha!” She laughs. “Yeah, I hang out with the mayor all the time.” She rolls her eyes sarcastically. Her laughter is suddenly cut off with a flinch as Westin kicks her under the table. “What was that for?”

“Be nice.” Westin says quietly. “Don’t embarrass me.” Turning to address Marie and James, he says, “I’m afraid I may be even more in the dark about all this than you two. I only moved to town a few weeks ago, when the Museum offered me a position. I’m honestly starting to wonder if it was worth it.”

Marie nods, getting the feeling that Westin is telling the truth about the whole scenario, although she has significant doubts that his friend spent any time with the mayor, much less seen the man.

“The museum…” Marie frowns as she recalls the Museum director at the ball. “That must be how you came to the Mayor’s attention. He invited the Museum director, completely understandable considering the position’s inherent prestige, but more interesting is the fact that it must have been the director who noticed your usefulness and then informed the Mayor,” she trails off to inspect Westin. “Just what were you doing to show up on the radar of such men? How are you useful?” she asks, puzzled.

Westin’s partner smirks and begins laughing. “I’ll tell you how he’s usefu—” She stops short at a glare from Westin. “Fine. I can tell when I’m not wanted.” She pouts and stalks off towards the dance floor.

James laughs at Marie’s candor, “What a question to ask someone, ‘how are you useful?’”

Shooting a soft glare at James, Marie asks Westin. “What I meant was, how are you useful to the Mayor?”

Westin laughs, too. “I’m with James on this one, Marie – that was an odd question. Truth is, I’m really not sure why I was invited. I’d like to think I’m a pretty decent anthropologist, mind you – perhaps the mayor has some historical artifacts he’d like information on.”

Just as James was about to respond to Westin, in the midst of making a sweeping gesture, James feels a firm but light touch on his wrist. He looks up, past the glass in his hand, his eyes finally settling on a suit. Despite the suit being more expensive than some small cars, that is not what catches James’ attention.

The man in the suit is lean and well-muscled, with a handsome profile which belongs in the Golden Age of Hollywood rather than a Chicago nightclub. His fingers, despite resting only lightly on James’ wrist, feel almost like steel cables, and the fingernails are delicately manicured. His eyes are shielded by black sunglasses, revealing only James’ reflection when he looks at them. His skin is almost radiantly pale in the club lighting, and he flashes the group a quick, tight smile, showing a set of teeth that would make a dentist weep with joy. Just looking at the sparkling white teeth displayed before him, James could almost swear he hears a faint ting as the light bounces off of them.

“You should be careful where you’re gesturing there, friend.” His voice has a classic and smoky quality to it, and James finds himself glad that Jo left the table to dance. Not that she’s a fickle girl, but there’s something about the man that just oozes desirability.

His gaze falls on Westin, and it feels as though he’s giving the girl next to him a fair amount of scrutiny as well. “Eastwood! Good to see you back in the club. It’s been a while since you’ve come round. And you’ve brought friends! I have to say, it’s always good to see new blood in my club. Where are my manners? I’ve forgotten to introduce myself.” He releases James’ wrist and extends his hand in greeting.

“A pleasure to meet you all. The name is Joseph Collins. I’d prefer, though, if you’d call me Joe Cool. “

“Sorry about that Joe, didn’t see you there. Nice place you’ve got here. You’ll have to tell us how a codger like Westin gets himself a table here.” James smiles warmly at Westin.

Westin chuckles at James’ comment. “That’s a trade secret, James – I can’t give them all away!”

Joe laughs, a sound full of honesty and respect. “Trade secrets indeed, Westin. He’s very respectful. His first night in town, he came to have a drink with me. He was very straightforward, and I had no choice but to buy him another. After all, friends need to stick together, no?” His eyes twinkle with mischief. He takes another look at James before smiling to himself and nodding. “Mister Spence, is it? It’s been a while since you last were in here, though I have heard good things about you. You’ve made quite a stir in some circles. A fellow who introduced himself as Ghengis was in here not a few hours ago looking for some information. I do hope he finds what he was looking for.”

James replies, “I have to spread myself around the town a little, you know, although Blush does have a particular… style about it.” He smiles, “I hope not everything you’ve heard is good, my reputation might be slipping.” He winks. “Did Ghengis mention what he was looking for, or where he was headed? Haven’t seen him in a couple of days.”

Joe looks lost in thought for almost a whole moment. “I did not get to speak with the man for long, but he was looking for a stone slab, a tablet of some kind. Some information was provided to him that pointed towards an old subway station off the ‘El’. Why he’d want to go down there I have no idea. Civilized persons tend to avoid those areas.”

Marie looks up at Mr. Collins with 10 years of career ambition flashing through her eyes. She extends her hand, smiling, “Marie Brey. It’s a pleasure to meet you Mr. Collins.”

Joe shakes her hand, seeming to enjoy it just as much as one might enjoy a warm bath. “Ah, Miss Brey. Radiant, much as I had expected. I will enjoy watching the ripples you spread with much satisfaction.”

Westin stands and extends his hand to the club owner, who shakes it hardily. “It’s a pleasure to see you, Joe, it really is. Do you think I might trouble you for a few minutes of your time later on? Our old friend Maxwell is planning a private party, and I think he expects us both to play a part.”

Joe’s face loses quite a bit of it’s warmth, but the smile remains. “You can take whatever time you need… I’m always willing to discuss parties that Maxwell is involved in. I’m worried that this one in particular may be an unwelcome surprise, and that too many people have been invited already. Wheels are in motion, Westin.” Joe seems dead calm about the entire affair, but his voice seems to be quite disappointed, even worried.

The warmth returns to his face as he slides into the booth next to Marie, waving over a bottle of champagne with enough glasses for everyone seated. James catches a glimpse of the date on the bottle, claiming to be from 1960. Joe pops the cork from the bottle with an expert hand before pouring everyone a glass and handing them out. “But it would be silly to throw a party without bringing some gifts, wouldn’t you say?”

Westin accepts a glass of champagne, and looks into it, feeling somewhat uncertain about where this conversation is going. “Gifts are exactly what I was hoping to discuss with you, Joe. Max and Rohet sent a lovely surprise to meet me at the mayor’s ball.” Westin smiles and winks at his companion. “I wanted to return the favor.”

Realization dawns on Joe, revealing itself through his furrowed brow, wrinkling his perfect forehead. “Both Max and Rohet? Must have been a very special occasion. Didn’t even know the mayor had a ball on today.” This seems to worry him greatly. “I’m all for sending Rohet a gift… that bastard is slimy, and has been a thorn in my underside for much too long. Did you have anything in mind? Personally, I’d like to send him some lilies.” He puts his nose to the crown of the champagne flute, inhaling deeply. “Perfection, wouldn’t you say?” He takes a delicate sip and smacks his lips, satisfied.

James listens intently to what Joe and Westin are talking about, trying to figure out the subject of their discussion. From their tones, they don’t seem to be planning anything good. He sips on the delicious champagne and is content to let them finish their conversation.

Joe turns to Westin, his voice remaining calm and level. “If you see Rohet, you should prepare yourself. He is… disfigured. Took me by surprise the first time I saw him.”

Westin raises his eyebrows at Joe’s warning concerning Rohet.

Marie silently observes Joe and Westin’s conversation, using her extensive background to determine the subject of Westin and Joe’s interest.

{Motives – Marie : Wits & Empathy (& Motives) : Westin and Joe. Pool of 6}

She comes away with the distinct feeling that Joe is talking about someone dangerous, someone he wants to disappear very badly. That there is some sort of political struggle taking place in the background of Chicago, and Joe and Westin seem to be on one side of this invisible war. She gets the feeling that the stakes are much higher than a squabble over an election – that something runs much deeper here.

Joe turns back to James, “What exactly is your relation to Mr. Ghengis, Doctor? I cannot quite place it. There is a degree of familiarity altogether unlike anything I see in this club very often.”

James sighs reluctantly, “I will admit that I actually don’t know Ghengis all that well yet. We recently became… business associates, along with a couple of his colleagues. I admit, I’m not sure what you’re referring to, we’ve only been working together for a couple of weeks.”

Joe nods sagely. “I dare say Mister Ghengis did not seem to have much talent for biology. What sort of business have you entered into with him, Doctor?”

“You know, James, not to change the subject or interrupt, but I’ve been thinking about what you said earlier, about the mayor being…did you say snatched? What did you mean by that?” Westin doesn’t try to conceal his frank curiosity.

Joe raises his eyebrows. “Snatched? Dear me, that sounds particularly vulgar. I do hope the man is okay.” A look of concern plays across his face.

James looks puzzled, “As crazy as it sounds, I don’t know what took the mayor, but there was something almost… inhuman about it. And there were two of them. Marie and I managed to outrun the second one, and headed here, because Westin was singled out by the Mayor. Along with us.”

Joe sucks in air through his teeth, creating a hollow sort of whistle. “Inhuman?”

{Perception – Marie : Wits & Subterfuge : Joe Cool. Pool of 6} {Perception – James : Wits & Subterfuge : Joe Cool. Pool of 3}

He shoots a glance at Westin, almost imperceptibly. Marie catches it, seeing a breif flicker of worry, but James manages to have caught his eye on the passing behind of a waitress bringing them a small plate of hors d’oeuvres. Joe coughs, breaking the spell. “What do you make of that, Westin? Could they have possibly seen something inhuman take the Mayor?”

Catching their shared glance of worry, Marie offers a friendly comment, “I wouldn’t be too quick to judge. He and I are both intelligent adults with a healthy sense of skepticism, not a couple of preteens with UFO posters. The kidnappers that were just a few feet away from us in the Mayor’s office were definitely not human.”

{Perception – Westin : Wits & Subterfuge : Joe Cool. Pool of 2}

Westin gets a distinct feeling that Joe is trying to determine how much James and Marie know about their world.

“I don’t know, Joe, but it certainly sounds like a very stressful experience. I’ve made a special study of occult phenomena in various cultures, and something I see repeated throughout the historical record is that people under great duress often attribute supernatural qualities to perfectly mundane events.” Westin smiles sympathetically at James and Marie. “It really sounds like you two have had a heck of night. Is there anything else weighing on you – fear or anxiety of some kind – that might have made this seem like more than it was?”

{Revelation – Westin : Manipulation & Persuasion & Majesty : James Spence. Pool of 7, 4 Successes}

{Revelation, Contested – James : Composure & Gnosis : Westin Snopes. Pool of 5, 1 Success}

{Conversation Direction – Westin : Manipulation & Socialize : James Spence. Pool of 1, 0 Successes}

James feels an almost overwhelming buildup of emotions flood through him as the adrenaline of the night comes crashing down. First, his fear of the dark creature comes bubbling forth, then the cracked cement covered in blood, followed by his terror of the drive over to the club. The emotions wash over him, and he feels a compulsion to open his mouth.

James takes a nice big swig of his drink. It seems like the events of the past 12 hours are finally catching up to him. “Look, I know it and you know it. There is something weird going on. First we three get invited to a “ball” by the mayor, whom none of us actually know. Despite the fact that there were plenty of other “people” with various abilities in the room, the mayor seems to single us out, like we were somehow special.” James seems to be building up steam, and it’s going to take an effort to slow his rant. “Well, I don’t like not knowing what’s going on, so Marie and I went to find him. And find him we did, just long enough for two demon looking things to crash in on us. One snatched the mayor out of the window, and the other was coming for us, before i blinded it with my phone.” James pauses briefly, long enough to take a breath. “Then Marie and I got out of there, grabbed Jo, and headed here. I made the mistake of letting her drive, trying to cheer her up. You saw we got pulled over right outside. I hacked the cop’s radio with my brain and convinced him to take off.” James addresses Joe, “Other than your valet taking off with my car, I think that catches us up.”

When James is done with his rant, he blinks his eyes until they re-focus, like he was snapping out of something. “Uh…” He scratches behind his head, “That was unexpected…”

Marie’s jaw practically drops as James goes through his rant. When he finishes, she says, “Wow. That was a lot for one sitting.”

Joe sucks air through his teeth, creating a high pitched whistle. “Indeed it was Miss Brey.. I must say, Doctor, I knew you were talented… but hacking a a police officer’s radio with your brain? I daresay that is a most unique and… useful skill.” His head turns towards Marie, as though evaluating her, somehow. A slow smirk begins to spread across his face. “As for my valet… I will see that he is appropriately… dealt with.”

“Yeah, I’m not quite clear on that bit,” Westin says, his brow furrowed. “How exactly do you hack anything with your brain? Is that some kind of metaphor?”

“I honestly can’t really explain how I did it. A couple weeks ago, I wouldn’t have believed it possible myself,” James shakes his head. “I must admit, I hadn’t planned on sharing all of that with you.” James turns to Joe, “And don’t be TOO harsh with the valet, after all, he at least had the decency to have the Ferris Bueller theme song ready to play when he took off.” James attempts a smile, which comes off a little shaky.

Joe returns the smile, although there seems to be a bit of regret hidden between his teeth. “Very well, Doctor. I will heed your advice, this time. I shall make sure you are suitably reimbursed for the mileage incurred in tonight’s escapade.”

{Occult Insight – Westin : Intelligence & Occult : Mages. Pool of 4, 3 Successes}

“Let me think this through…” Westin begins muttering to himself in a sort of stream of consciousness. “So you were able to detect that there were people with, as you said, “abilities,” at the ball. Some kind of aura reading, perhaps? And blinding a demon with a cell phone – must have been a bright backlight – elemental manipulation? Classic wizard legend right there. The brain-hacking though, I don’t know, maybe a modern twist?” He looks up at James.

“You can do…magic… Why? How?”

James smiles a little at someone being astonished that he can use magic, “I’m still pretty shaky on the why and how myself, but yes, it seems that I can.”

{Supernal Vision – James: ? & ?: Westin and Joe. Pool of 6}

Westin, Marie and Joe watch as James’ eyes flicker shut, then open again with a sort of soft glow about them.

In front of him, James sees a massive weave of auras – it takes him a second, but he’s able to disentangle Marie’s soft white strands from what he intends to look at. As he brushes them aside, there is a gentle feeling of warmth. That feeling leaves, and he is left with a slowly pulsating grey, blue and red aura coming from Joe and Westin. Joe’s aura barely pulses, and at times the strands that make it up seem as strong and as cold as steel bars. Westin, on the other hand, has an aura that pulses with a gentle warmth, though it seems to be fading quite rapidly. The strands of his aura seem to be thinner somehow, and less threatening.

The soft glow fades from James’ eye, leaving him with the impression that Westin and Joe are more than meets the eye. “And just like a lot of the party goers, I can see there is something a little different about the two of you.”

After Joe and Westin ask their questions, Marie feels obligated to step in on James’ behalf, who is clearly confused about having said too much too soon. “Well, now that you know our side of the story, I would say it’s only fair that we hear your side of it. And it sounds like you two are involved with some of the groups that were at the ball. Do you know anything about them that will help James and I investigate their activities?”

Marie’s face takes on a scrutinizing aspect, seemingly quite suspicous of their motives since they are not normal humans after all, and will use Spotting Lies to determine the truth of their next response to James.

{Spotting Lies – Marie : Wits & Subterfuge (& Spotting Lies) : Westin and Joe. Pool of 7}

“I’ll be damned…” Westin whispers, watching James do his trick. “Wait, so you can do this too, Marie?” He chuckles and shakes his head. “I’ve spent most of my life digging up ancient artifacts and studying musty texts to learn all I could about the mystical beliefs and practices of ancient cultures, and here I meet two genuine full-on wizards at a ball in Chicago and take them out for drinks. Now that’s irony!” He laughs again. “What about you, Joe? Did you ever hear of anything like this?” For the moment, Westin seems to be disregarding James’ comment and Marie’s question.

“So you’re an expert in the occult?” Marie thinks aloud after hearing Westin’s interests. “Then you know much more than James and I about magic.” She smiles suddenly and addresses Westin directly, “It seems that we have something of interest to share with each other. I don’t suppose that you would like to join us in our endeavors? We share the same enemy and could certainly use your expertise.”

From what Marie can gather, Westin appears to be genuinely surprised at the revelation. She finds it impossible to read Joe’s reaction, however.

Joe seems a bit over-relaxed now, an easy smile on his face, arms spread out along the top of the booth, one hand crooked a bit to allow him easy access to the champagne. “It’s certainly uncommon, but I have had a few run ins with their ilk in the past. Some friendly, some quite antagonistic. I was unsure, but the Doctor here certainly confirmed my theories. As for the temperament of our friends here, they seem amicable enough, and I will grant them the protection offered by Elysium here.” Just as a waitress seems poised to come back to the table, he waves his hand and she makes a jerky turn to head elsewhere in the establishment.

Humbled by Joe’s offer, Marie nods and says quietly, “Thank you for that protection. I’m sure that we will need it in the future, especially if Rohet is even half the criminal that you claim.”

He turns his head to Marie. “As far as what we can do to help you in your investigations, we can do much. But I do not know what groups were at the party, as I was not invited.” Joe seems quite sore on this point. “Out of respect for Westin and our late Mayor, there is some that I can reveal to you, though it is up to Westin how much to tell you about himself. There is a…” The way Joe hesitates before the next word causes his normally composed face to twitch angrily. ”... man who has long been antagonizing me and mine. He is known by the moniker Rohet, and little I have done has been able to unsettle him. He is very well connected in the city, it seems, and has ears everywhere, if not eyes.”

Joe pinches the bridge of his nose. “In fact, I am looking for a way to send Rohet a gift. It is known that I do compensate my couriers well, if the job is carried out with caution and expediency. I do beleive that you both are quite talented individuals, and that Westin may be of significant assistance to you both…” He sits, glancing between the three at the table, anticipating their responses.

James sighs, shaking his head, “Well, I’m not entirely sure why I divulged all that, but I admit, it’s a bit of a relief to have done so. I know just as little about the groups at the mayor’s ball as you, Joe, I’m afraid. I didn’t recognize a single one of them.” James attempts to describe the various groups using mundane means, but Joe doesn’t seem to react with anything other than revulsion at the group that had been hanging out by the bar. “As far as your offer Joe, I don’t mean offense, but it sounds like whatever you intend for us to deliver would be less than friendly, hearing how you’ve spoken about Rohet thus far.” James will also turn to Marie, “I apologize, I did not intend to divulge our natures so easily. No harm done thus far though.”

Marie nods slightly at James’ apology, “No harm, no foul. It needed to be said and sounds like it helped.”

“I agree with James that it’s not a good idea for us to deliver an unfriendly message or gift to Rohet right off the bat. The retaliation it would provoke, whether we succeed or fail, may penetrate even through Elysium’s walls, and we would still be without his known associates, methods, or goals. Perhaps we could do something subtle to block his advance into the city?” She looks for Joe’s reaction, trying to see if she’s accidentally crossed a line by making the suggestion. “At least until we know where to look after Rohet?”

Addressing Marie, Westin says, “Well, an expert in the history and myths surrounding it. Clearly I missed a few things along the way.” He grins. “I’d be glad to work with the two of you. Life in Chicago is already proving far more dangerous than I had anticipated, and I can use all the friends I can get.” Westin looks at Joe uncertainly. “If we’re going to cooperate, though, there are certain aspects of my nature you should probably be prepared for. Wouldn’t you say, Joe?”

“That’s wonderful!” Marie beams at Westin’s acceptance. “We could use all the help we can get.”

“I think you two underestimate the protection that Elysium entails. While it certainly cannot protect us from social or financial or, for that matter, mortal attacks, any…anyone who violated that code would bring the wrath of the city down upon themselves. I should think that even Maxwell would not risk such an attack, for fear of sparking chaos and rebellion among the Kindred.”

Marie frowns in confusion. “I’m sorry to interrupt, but who is Maxwell? I can tell from the context that he’s not friendly, but is he in league with Rohet?” She looks at Joe then Westin and back again.

Westin grimaces before answering. “Maxwell is Prince Maxwell, Lord of the Kindred of Chicago. I don’t know if he’s in league with this Rohet or not – I guess we’ll find out.”

“And James…I’m afraid you’re not entirely at fault for that little episode of helpfulness…” Westin smiles guiltily.

Joe nods assent to Westin, as though he had been expecting him to say that all along. “Yes, there will be no Violation here – none that I’d report. Like begets like, and trust is hard bought in our little community.”

“Yes, Maxwell would not commit any sort of atrocity here. He would not dare. The Carthians are not his favorite, but we are not without resources. But you must forgive me if I overstepped my bounds. I did not mean for you to remove Rohet from the equation that is Chicago. I just wanted a message delivered. He runs a messenger post out of an old abandoned subway station – it’s the only way I know to get messages to him. I might be able to make it worth your while to deliver such a message. For various reasons, I am unable to do so myself.”

Marie loses some of the tension in her posture at Joe’s clarification of the “message” and breathes a quiet sigh of relief.

“I apologize for assuming something sinister was involved, but by the way you spoke of Rohet, can you blame me?” James tries to smile at that. “I’m not usually one for gossiping and sharing secrets, but I must admit, this has been a very enlightening conversation. I am curious what you mean by your nature though, you’re clearly not mages, at least not like the few I’ve met so far.”

James narrows his eyes a little at Westin, “What do you mean, ‘not at fault’?”

Westin takes another gulp of Bloody Mary to calm his nerves, finishing off yet another one.

“Well, I, uh…I may have given your emotions a slight nudge in that direction…” Without meeting James’ eyes, Westin hurriedly continues. “Look, I know that’s a pretty poor way to start off a partnership, but when you said “inhuman” I had to know more. I needed to know what you saw, what’s out there. I just got a little more than I bargained for. Anyway, I am sorry. It won’t happen again.”

“I’m sorry too,” Marie laughs nervously. “Guess I’m still jittery from earlier.” She glances at James, and asks, “What do you think? A regular message shouldn’t be so bad.”

“You could have just asked, man.” James bristles visibly at the revelation that his will was influenced… against his will. “How would you like it if I used my powers to… make you experience mild discomfort.” James attempts a smile yet again, while trying to maintain a weak air of menace. “Your turn to spill, it’s only fair.”

“Yeah, I know. It’s a bad habit.” Westin looks a bit hangdog. “Well…hmm, it’s kind of complicated.”

“Like being a newly… Awakened I think is the word, wizard?” James rejoins.

“Yeah, like that.” Westin smiles. “Basically, I just have to concentrate a little bit, and most people like me more or trust me with..ahem…well, with their secrets.”

A brief pause settles over the table, followed by Westin, quietly, as though afraid to break the silence.

“And I’ve got a really bad temper…”

Marie’s quriks her head to the side. “Like the Hulk?”, still wide eyed and expecting anything after his last confession.

“Ha!” Westin is caught off guard by the remark. “Not exactly, but that’s not a bad analogy, either.”

“That’s good to know… So, where do your “abilities” come from? It’s different from ours.” James gestures to himself and at Marie.

Westin glances at Joe, uncertain how exactly to present the information. “Hoo boy. That’s the 64 million dollar question. You see…well, it’s like this…um…” Westin sighs. “Basically, I share my body with some kind of demon. It gives me power, and tries to…make me do things.”

James whistles.

“Yeah. It’s not exactly an ideal arrangement.” Westin shrugs. “Then again, it’s not something you really sign up for, either.”

{Perception – Marie : Wits & Subterfuge : Westin. Pool of 6. 3 Successes.}

Marie sees that Westin seems to be holding something back, as if he were unsure how best to reveal a secret. “That’s not all,” Marie says gently to Westin, looking pointedly at James.

James leans forward, “So I’ll tell you mine if you tell me your’s. How were you ’recruited’?”

Marie leans forward to hear Westin’s big secret.

Westin gulps.

“My, um, grandfather suffered the same curse.” Westin seems to pull himself together a bit. “He decided to pass it on. Not exactly my favorite gift.” Westin grimaces.

James arches an eyebrow.

“Don’t make me use my hocus pocus to get YOU to tell me your secrets.” James smiles.

“All right, all right.” Westin sighs. “Just keep in mind I didn’t ask for this. Do you want the nitty-gritty, or the highlight reel?”

“I don’t need positions and stuff, you can just give me the gist of it.” James winks.

“Oh, good lord.” Westin rolls his eyes. “You’re incorrigible, Spence.”

“I try.”

Joe looks quite bemused at both Westin and James. He chuckles softly to himself as he watches them banter back and forth.

Westin starts, “So here’s how it works: My grandfather has always had this condition, for as long as I can remember. Extreme sensitivity to heat and light, so much so that he never went out during the day. Otherwise, he has always been exceptionally healthy. I mean, really exceptionally. I don’t remember him ever getting sick. He was always strong, too. And I never saw anyone say no to him. Not once. Not my mother, not my father, not anyone, about anything. Lucky old man, right?”

“Sounds like.”

“So 5 years ago, he tells me he wants to pass that good luck on. I don’t know what he means. And that’s where it gets weird.”

Westin stops to take a sip and clear his throat.

James takes a sip, of the same length, meeting Westin’s gaze.

“So then he grabs me and rips a hole in my throat with his teeth. And he drinks my blood and then sits back and watches me die. You starting to see where this is going?” Westin rushes out this last bit and then slumps back in his seat.

James attempts to keep a straight face, but he will fail to keep his jaw from dropping a little. He turns to Marie, “They ARE real?!”

Marie is in a similar state, stifling a small gasp. “Why would Merlin not tell us after we Awakened?”, almost hissing at James. “We knew what we saw!”

“Wait, Merlin? Like, King Arthur? But that’s just a myth…” Westin’s eyes get as big as saucers.

James peers at Westin. “I think that is a moniker that he chose, paying homage to the Merlin. Who probably did exist.”

Joe claps his hands together, seemingly with genuine enjoyment. “I must say, Westin. Awfully blunt with the last bit, but the dramatic tension was perfect! I don’t see why you don’t spend more time socializing. You obviously excel at it.”

He leans forward, putting a hand to his lips as though to block out the entire club from hearing what he has to say. “Yes, my friends. Vampires are real.” Both Marie and James can swear they hear the “S” sound drag out a big longer than it should, as though it were coming from a mouth with teeth that seem to be getting in the way of proper pronunciation. Joe leans back again with an easy smile. “But none of us are like Rohet. Well, not Westin and I, at any rate.”

James stammers, “Even though I was expecting you to say that… I wasn’t expecting you to say that.”

Westin chuckles. “Talk about dramatic. Anyway, Joe’s right. There are some real monsters out there, but we’re not them.”

James looks skeptical. “We’ve seen the handiwork of some of your kind at my office actually. Forgive me, but how do I know that the only thing protecting us isn’t Elysium?”

Joe sucks in air through his teeth, looking a bit tense. “At your office? How do you mean? What happened?”

Westin also looks concerned.

James looks to Marie for approval before continuing, after a long sigh, “I suppose it’s true what they say, a wise man admits that he knows nothing. Every day for the past few weeks I think I’ve seen or heard or done something that I was told wasn’t real my whole life. You have both been very up front with us, and I want to return the favor. With regards to this Rohet and Maxwell – who may just be separate parties – do I really want to get on their radar? Joe, if you know about Mages, then it’s safe to say that at least Maxwell will, if he’s the Lord of Chicago. Won’t Marie and I be a little out of our depth?”

Joe taps his teeth with a perfectly manicured fingernail. “You have a point. I think it may be best for us to keep Maxwell in the dark with regards to you both. Knowledge, as they say, is power.” He leans back, thinking. “Of course our Prince is aware of your kind – he has had some dealings with The Silver Ladder for some time now. But as he is not yet aware of you both..”

He sits in silence for some minutes, before leaning forward with a smile on his face. “I’ll tell you what… In the interest of mutual friendship, and the beginning of trust, I have a small problem that needs to be addressed. You see, there’s a small group of fledgeling Carthians who are a bit more liberal with the Kine than they should be. I was going to have Big Dick go scare them a bit, but it seems to me that may be a bit too hammer and nail, wouldn’t you agree?”

His hand flickers into inside pocket of his suitjacket and reappears shortly thereafter, pressed palm down on the table. “Now I can almost hear your inquiries of what you’d receive for dealing with my problems for me.. I realize that my eternal gratitude doesn’t seem like much incentive, despite what you know of me, so I’ll put on offer something a bit more tantalizing. If you manage to dissuade the newly Embraced…”

Joe’s hand darts away, revealing a coin that shines like bronze, laying flat on the table. Both James and Marie feel a sort of calling towards it, and each of their eyes pick out a faint glowing pattern on the surface, barely recognizable. Westin can almost feel the age coming off of the coin.

{Knowledge – James : Intelligence & Occult : Bronze Coin. Pool of 5} {Knowledge – Marie : Intelligence & Occult : Bronze Coin. Pool of 3} {Knowledge – Westin : Intelligence & Occult & Academics (Anthropology) : Bronze Coin. Pool of 7}

James’ eyes play over the coin and he can see each hammerstroke that went into it’s forging. He can see the delicate craftsmanship that went into etching each one of the runes that play across the surface of the coin. He can make out a few of the High Speech runes that Merlin showed him, but not enough at this distance to make much sense of it.

Marie, on the other hand, feels a sense of calm radiate from the coin, as though it were steeped in a cool fountain for eons and had taken on some of it’s essence. She is able to make out some writing on the surface, but not much.

From his vantage point, Westin notes several prominent features that lead him to believe that the coin may be a Sumerian Shekel. The iconography of the Goddess Inanna-Ishtar is the most striking, but the coin itself would bear further study to bear any further information.

When Joe puts the coin out, Westin’s gaze fixates on it as if nothing else in the room matters.

“Is that a genuine Sumerian Shekel?” He breathes out. He leans across the table, somewhat awkwardly, to get a closer look. He glances up at Joe for a moment before returning his eyes to the coin, studying its every feature. “Can I hold it?”

Westin picks the coin up without waiting for permission and examines it closely, turning it over and over in his hands.

{Knowledge – Westin : Intelligence & Occult & Academics (Anthropology) : Bronze Coin. Pool of 7}

Westin turns the coin over, examining it from every conceivable angle and distance. He picks up on the fact that there is incredible detail in the construction of the coin – moreso than on any other artefact that he’s ever laid eyes on from that time period. He can see faint etching of strange symbols around the coin – not Sumerian in nature, but quite different, and they’re of the same age of the coin to be certain.

James’s interest is most certainly piqued, “May I take a look at the coin?” James looks like he wants to take it in his hand to examine.

Although he looks slightly annoyed, Westin holds the coin up for James to see – he does not, however, actually hand it off. “Have a glance with those magic eyes, but don’t touch – I wouldn’t want such an artifact damaged.” He turns back to Joe. “Where’d you get it?”

If Westin looks annoyed, the wordsmiths of the ages do not quite have a word for the expression on Joes’ face, aside from cold. Also, potentially murderous. His voice, though, is calm and collected, as a mask seems to slide over his face. “There was an altercation some years back, and circumstances saw to it that I ended up with a dying mageling in my arms. She pressed it into my hand wordlessly, and I have had it with me ever since.”

*

Before James’ eyes, the small sigils on the coin flare to life, blazing with a blue iridescence. Most of the runes are unfamiliar to him, but there is one sigil, burning quietly behind the icon of Inanna-Ishtar, that he recognizes as something Merlin, Ursa and Ghengis have in their apartment. Their rune is crudely stitched on a few pillows, and is marked over the exit. He recalls the solemnity in Merlin’s voice when he asked about it one day.

”You keep staring at those, James. Small wonder why – that symbol is important. It represents the height of Mage Society – ages ago, when there were no Sleepers. It represents hubris, and the fall of our people. It helps us stay grounded in the use of our abilities, so that we do not fall as they did. It reminds us that there is more out there that we do not know, that we must uncover. That symbol is the first rune each of us learned. That, James, is the symbol for Atlantis.”

Marie freezes as she studies the coin. “Is that what I think it is?” she asks James in bewilderment, remembering the symbol as well.

James’s eyes go wide, even as he slips into his other sight. He examines the coin from every angle, watching the invisible light dance across its surface. “Do you know what you have in your hand? Do you know where this comes from?” James looks to Joe, “Do you know the name of the Mageling you got this from?”

Seeing Joe’s expression, Westin gulps, and slowly – carefully – sets the coin back down on the table and scoots back into his seat.

Joe’s face takes on an easy smile. “I take it that this seems adequate recompense for what is being asked of you? Dissuading my wayward flock from their ways in return for this priceless antique?” He regards Marie and James with some degree of fascination. “I know that it is old, and valuable, though I can’t read it myself. As such, it has little worth to me beyond it’s curious nature. There are a few memories, ghosts of the past, attached to this trinket, but nothing that I will lose sleep over. The girl’s mage name was Anastasia, but what her real name was I do not know – I never could get her to reveal it to me, despite my efforts to persuade her.” There is a flicker of emotion on his face when he mentions Anastasia’s name, but it flees quickly. He casts a meaningful look at Westin.

James looks to Westin as well. “I understand your curiosity about the coin, and if you’re willing, I know a few people that might be willing to share their knowledge about it with you, in exchange for examining it.”

He rises from the table, a sleek black phone suddenly appearing in his hand. Moments later, each of James’, Westin’s and Marie’s phones let out a pleasant chirp that alerts them to the presence of a new message. The phone dissapears almost as quickly as it flew into his grip. He flips the shekel through the air, and all eyes at the table watch as it gracefully arcs from his thumb to the exact center of the table. “I trust you know what is expected of you. What comes next is up to each of you. Exactly how much is that coin worth?”

“I’m afraid that I can’t say how much monetary value this coin has, but I, and my associates, will be very interested to study it’s origins.” James smiles, “As far as what those origins are, or might be, this is the first time I’ve known something that you might not. You’ll forgive me if I savor that a bit. Perhaps once we’ve completed our task, I’ll let you in on it.”

A brief flicker of annoyance flashes across Joe’s face. He bows politely to the group before turning and stalking off through the crowd.

There is a breif pause after his parting before the Joe, Westin and Marie all reach for the coin at the same time. As they touch it, there’s a brief spark of what feels like electric energy that passes from the coin to each of them. They look at each other in suprise, and a bout of nervous laughter breaks out. Westin takes the coin gingerly and pockets it for safe keeping. As they part ways for the night, promising to meet up after sunset tomorrow, James sighs with relief that both his car and Jo are none worse for the wear after their respective nights (although Jo likely won’t be feeling well in the morning). As they head back to their places of rest, the sky is just beginning to lighten, threatening daybreak in just a few hours.

END OF SCENE*

Comments

“Sit, girl! Stay!” Westin grins, attempting to conceal his annoyance with teasing. Hunger sated, he feels much calmer, if no more in control. “I need to take a walk, and you need to hold the table so that it will be here when I get back. Understand? And if Wells or JJ comes by, tell them I’ll be back shortly. You’re not to reveal your feelings for me, okay? They might get, um, jealous.” Westin nods, feigning confidence, and takes the listless party girl sitting on his other side by the arm, helping her to stand and walk toward the exit.

He spares a glance back at the table to verify that his commands are being obeyed before exiting the club, drunk girl stumbling at his side.

December 18th 2010 - Blush
 

//This is going to take some finagling… ;)

“Well, I suppose this was bound to happen Jo… just let me handle it.” Thinking quickly, James looks back to the cop car as they come to a halt, seeing the large 989 printed across the hood. James will concentrate on the forces swirling around him, until he is able to separate the frequency of car 989’s radio from the innumerable waves flooding chicago’s streets. James will attempt to use the improvised spell Transmission Gnosis+Forces+Willpower, Dice pool of 8

//the rest is assuming that the trasmission spell is successful.

Over the now hijacked radio, James will attempt to impersonate a police dispatch as well as he can. (If any rolls are needed, feel free to add them, I’m banking on the cop not expecting anyone else to come through on the radio ;). “989, this is dispatch, there is a report of multiple shots fired at the corner of Huron and Ashland. Back-up is en route. At least one civillian is reported down.”

December 18th 2010 - Blush
 

“Sorry, sir, but you’re the closest officer to the scene. I’ll have traffic over there shortly.” James will attempt to sound like a dispatcher that is about to suggest what a cop should do and be timid about it. “And, uh, sir? The 911 call sounded urgent, well, even more than usual.”

December 18th 2010 - Blush
 

“I know… that was really weird. That dispatcher sounded just like me!” James will pretend to laugh a little. “Lucky for us though, huh? Shall we head inside? I feel like I have something to make up to you,” James will wink at Jo.

December 18th 2010 - Blush
 

James will slip the Valet a Benjamin, lean close and whisper, “Unless I come back for it, you don’t have a MacLaren in the parking lot.” James will nod back to where the cop car went.

He will disengage from the Valet and head over to Westin and Marie. He’ll put his arm around Jo, “Hello again, we managed to make it in one piece. Sorry to keep you waiting, that was a spot of luck with the cop, wasn’t it?” James will throw Marie a knowing smile. “Shall we go meet up with Westin, I believe he said he had a booth?”

December 18th 2010 - Blush
 

With a tight smile, Westin helps the drunk girl into a taxi and hands the driver a twenty.

“Make sure she gets home safe, all right?” He straightens and stretches a bit, watching curiously as the police car drives off in an almighty hurry. Only then does he notice James, Marie, and Jo. He stiffens in surprise, sighs, and smacks himself in the forehead with the palm of his hand.

“…stupid, stupid, stupid…” He mutters quietly. Knowing he’ll have no chance to walk back into the club without being seen – assuming they haven’t already recognized him – he realizes that he’ll have to spend the rest of the night keeping up the Masquerade rather then resolving his current predicament. He sighs with a mixture of frustration and relief, then composes himself and approaches the group.

“I do indeed have a private table, assuming my friend remembered to hold it for me.” He smiles. “How was the rest of the ball?”

December 18th 2010 - Blush
 

“It was… eventful. I’ll fill you in when we’re somewhere more private. Shall we head inside, and see if your friend remembered? If not, I’m sure I could drum up a table.” James will smile and take Jo by the waist, ready to head inside.

December 18th 2010 - Blush
 

James will turn back at the sound of the music, wondering why the Valet had it on a CD. Just in case this happens James will think to himself. He’ll turn just in time to see his car get airborne over a small hill with the 80s music blasting.

“Good thing I have insurance…” James will mutter to himself while walking into the club. As he walks past the bouncer, he’ll nod, “Nice Vest.” James and Jo will follow Westin to his private table. “Well Westin, I assume you have bottle service? I think Jo looks thirsty.”

When the woman pounces on Westin, James will just give him a wry look. “Wedding Rings?”

December 18th 2010 - Blush
 

Marie will turn to James as he walks away from the car and say, “You’ll have to tell me sometime how you avoided that ticket.” She looks toward the club’s entrance, dreading the line, and spots Westin. Marie will nudge Jo and nod at Westin, waving.

She will follow James, Jo, and Westin inside the club. After James’ wedding ring comment, Marie will raise her eyebrows at Westin and grin, “I’m so happy for you two. When is the wedding?”

December 18th 2010 - Blush
 

In his thrall’s ear, Westin whispers, “Control yourself.”

Turning back to the others, Westin smiles gamely, hoping the dim lighting hides the strain behind it. “She’s joking, of course. We’ve only just met. Please, sit, relax.” He waits for everyone else to sit before seating himself. “Now what’s this about bottle service?” Westin signals a waiter. Once everyone’s drinking needs have been seen to, Westin decides to make small talk.

“Say, did any of you recognize that blond woman talking to the bouncer when we came in? She was at the ball, too, I could swear it.”

December 18th 2010 - Blush
 

“I must say, she did look awfully familiar. Does the name Catalina ring a bell?” (If it’s obviously not Catalina, you can ignore this comment.)

//In the effort of continuing conversation, I’m going try and have two trains of conversation going at the same time. So we can move a little faster.

“How much have you heard about what happened at the ball, Westin? I’m not sure if you left before the big… commotion.”

December 18th 2010 - Blush
 

James will watch Jo go, making sure she can at least walk out to the dance floor. Once she’s out of ear shot, he’ll comment, “Sorry about Jo, although I suppose it’s my fault. She just came along to go to a fancy party, not… whatever that was. As far as the blond woman, I’m almost certain that’s Catalina Muroe, I uh… went on a date with her a couple of weeks ago, before she dropped off the map.”

In the timestream…

“Sorry about that Joe, didn’t see you there. Nice place you’ve got here. You’ll have to tell us how a codger like Westin gets himself a table here.” James will smile warmly at Westin.

December 18th 2010 - Blush
 

Marie gives an unladylike snort at James’ question, “Catalina. That’s the woman who was harassing Dan about ensuring her logging rights in Cook County. Very much of an ice queen. I don’t trust her.” Marie glares at her appletini before taking a rather large gulp of it.

Marie gives Jo a confused look as the other woman leaves without waiting for Marie’s response. She’ll turn to James and Westin with a slightly worried look, “She’s still a little upset from earlier.”

Marie shifts her focus to Westin, “So Westin, seeing as this is a more private location, do you mind telling us what caused the young man from the party to flee at the sight of you? I believe it was “personal”? And how do you know the mayor? He mentioned you before he…before his disappearance.”

Marie will look up at Mr. Collins with 10 years of career ambition flashing through her eyes. She will extend her hand, smiling, and say, “Marie Brey. It’s a pleasure to meet you Mr. Collins.”

-Post by Jen

December 18th 2010 - Blush
 

Earlier

“Catalina? I’m afraid not.” Westin sips at a Bloody Mary. “Commotion, eh? Somebody make a scene? No, I left pretty quickly. My friends were kind enough to drop me off here, but it looks like they didn’t want to come out tonight.” He gives his companion a smile. “Except you, of course, dear.”

Westin groans inwardly at Marie’s question, and covers it by quickly downing the rest of his drink and calling for another. “Well…you see…the thing is…” Westin glances helplessly over at his female companion, hoping she’ll help him out.

“That was my ex,” she says, putting a surprisingly strong arm around Westin’s shoulders. “He’s been giving me a hard time the last few months, but darling Westin here showed him what’s what. Didn’t you, my big tough man?” Westin coughs uncomfortably as she squeezes him close and kisses his cheek.

“I suppose I did,” he says, thinking back to the scene in the hotel lobby. Then he does a double take. “Wait just a moment, the mayor disappeared? What? That’s…” He struggles to find the right word. “That’s terrible! I don’t – didn’t – know him, actually. We just share a mutual acquaintance. Disappeared?” He shakes his head in shock.

Later

Westin chuckles at James’ comment. “That’s a trade secret, James – I can’t give them all away!” Westin stands and extends his hand to the club owner. “It’s a pleasure to see you, Joe, it really is. Do you think I might trouble you for a few minutes of your time later on? Our old friend Maxwell is planning a private party, and I think he expects us both to play a part.”

//Westin tries to get a read on Joe’s reaction to this.

December 18th 2010 - Blush
 

Later

Westin accepts a glass of champagne, and looks into it, feeling somewhat uncertain about where this conversation is going. “Gifts are exactly what I was hoping to discuss with you, Joe. Max and Rohet sent a lovely surprise to meet me at the mayor’s ball.” Westin smiles and winks at his companion. “I wanted to return the favor.”

December 18th 2010 - Blush
 

Section 1

James will lean in conspiratorially, “I don’t think disappeared is the right word. I think I would say… snatched.” He will pause for dramatic effect and look between Westin and his girl, wondering if he should continue.

Section 2

James will reply to Joe when he addresses him, “I have to spread myself around the town a little, you know, although Blush does have a particular… style about it.” He’ll smile, “I hope not everything you’ve heard is good, my reputation might be slipping.” He’ll wink. “Did Ghengis mention what he was looking for, or where he was headed? Haven’t seen him in a couple of days.”

James will listen intently to what Joe and Westin are talking about, trying to figure out exactly what they’re talking about. From their tones, they aren’t planning anything good. He will sip on the delicious champagne and is content to let them finish their conversation.

December 18th 2010 - Blush
 

Marie will respond to Westin’s guest, “We’re not sure who took him, but there was an awful large pool of blood on the sidewalk below with no body. He may be dead or gravely injured. It’s too soon to tell. I don’t suppose you know if the Mayor had enemies who could accomplish such a kidnapping?” Noticing the lack of genuine concern earlier from Westin’s companion, Marie will use her Spotting Lies ability for Westin and the companion’s next statements.

Marie will use her Political Motives to try to determine the subject of Westin and Joe’s interest.

//Post by Jen :D

December 18th 2010 - Blush
 

Section 1

“Westin, what do you know about why we were invited to the ball, and perhaps why we seemed to be the focus of his little speech?”

Section 2

“I will admit that I actually don’t know Ghengis all that well yet. We recently became… business associates, along with a couple of his colleagues. I admit, I’m not sure what you’re referring to, we’ve only been working together for a couple of weeks.”

December 18th 2010 - Blush
 

Earlier

“Ha!” She laughs. “Yeah, I hang out with the mayor all the time.” She rolls her eyes sarcastically. Her laughter is suddenly cut off with a flinch as Westin kicks her under the table. “What was that for?”

“Be nice.” Westin says quietly. “Don’t embarrass me.” Turning to address Marie and James, he says, “I’m afraid I may be even more in the dark about all this than you two. I only moved to town a few weeks ago, when the Museum offered me a position. I’m honestly starting to wonder if it was worth it.”

Later

Westin raises his eyebrows at Joe’s warning concerning Rohet.
-
“You know, James, not to change the subject or interrupt, but I’ve been thinking about what you said earlier, about the mayor being…did you say snatched? What did you mean by that?” Westin doesn’t try to conceal his frank curiosity.

December 18th 2010 - Blush
 

First section

“The museum…” Marie frowns as she recalls the Museum director at the ball. “That must be how you came to the Mayor’s attention. He invited the Museum director, completely understandable considering the position’s inherent prestige, but more interesting is the fact that it must have been the director who noticed your usefulness and then informed the Mayor,” she trails off to inspect Westin. “Just what were you doing to show up on the radar of such men? How are you useful?” she asks, puzzled.

December 18th 2010 - Blush
 

Earlier

James will laugh at Marie’s candor, “What a question to ask someone, ‘how are you useful?’”

Later

“As crazy as it sounds, I don’t know what took the mayor, but there was something almost… inhuman about it. And there were two of them. Marie and I managed to outrun the second one, and headed here, because Westin was singled out by the Mayor. Along with us.”

December 18th 2010 - Blush
 

Earlier

Westin laughs, too. “I’m with James on this one, Marie – that is an odd question. Truth is, I’m really not sure why I was invited. I’d like to think I’m a pretty decent anthropologist, mind you – perhaps the mayor has some historical artifacts he’d like information on.”

Later

“I don’t know, Joe, but it certainly sounds like a very stressful experience. I’ve made a special study of occult phenomena in various cultures, and something I see repeated throughout the historical record is that people under great duress often attribute supernatural qualities to perfectly mundane events.” Westin smiles sympathetically at James and Marie. “It really sounds like you two have had a heck of night. Is there anything else weighing on you – fear or anxiety of some kind – that might have made this seem like more than it was?”

//Revelation targeting James: Man+Per+Maj (7 dice) versus Com+Gno (5 dice). On success, Man+Soc (1 die) to keep things focused on the Mayor’s disappearance; otherwise, James may go on for a while.
//P.S. Attempting to knock the conversation open so we can work together more directly.

December 18th 2010 - Blush
 

//Makes sense, i was getting sick of dancing around the subject, but i couldn’t think of a way that James was going to spill. This works :)

James will take a nice big swig of his drink before continuing. It seems like the events of the past 12 hours are finally catching up to him. "Look, I know it and you know it. There is something weird going on. First we three get invited to a “ball” by the mayor, whom none of us actually know. Despite the fact that there were plenty of other “people” with various abilities in the room, the mayor seems to single us out, like we were somehow special." James is building up steam, and it’s going to take an effort to slow his rant. “Well, I don’t like not knowing what’s going on, so Marie and I went to find him. And find him we did, just long enough for two demon looking things to crash in on us. One snatched the mayor out of the window, and the other was coming for us, before i blinded it with my phone.” James will pause briefly, to take a breath. “Then Marie and I got out of there, grabbed Jo, and headed here. I made the mistake of letting her drive, trying to cheer her up. You saw we got pulled over right outside. I hacked the cop’s radio with my brain and convinced him to take off.” James will address Joe, “Other than your valet taking off with my car, I think that catches us up.”

When James is done with his rant, he’ll sort of blink, like he was snapping out of something. “Uh…” He’ll scratch behind his head, “That was unexpected…”

//If there is anything else that should be revealed, or that you want to ask JVolk, feel free.

December 18th 2010 - Blush
 

“Yeah, I’m not quite clear on that bit,” Westin says, his brow furrowed. “How exactly do you hack anything with your brain? Is that some kind of metaphor?”

December 18th 2010 - Blush
 

“I honestly can’t really explain how I did it. A couple weeks ago, I wouldn’t have believed it possible myself,” James will shake his head. “I must admit, I hadn’t planned on sharing all of that with you.” James will turn to Joe, “And don’t be TOO harsh with the valet, after all, he at least had the decency to have the Ferris Bueller theme song ready to play when he took off.” James will attempt a smile, which comes off a little shaky.

December 18th 2010 - Blush
 

//Int+Occult=3 (per our helpful GM) so Westin can guess at James’ basic nature.

“Let me think this through…” Westin begins muttering to himself in a sort of stream of consciousness. "So you were able to detect that there were people with, as you said, “abilities,” at the ball. Some kind of aura reading, perhaps? And blinding a demon with a cell phone – must have been a bright backlight – elemental manipulation? Classic wizard legend right there. The brain-hacking though, I don’t know, maybe a modern twist?" He looks up at James.

“You can do…magic… Why? How?”

December 18th 2010 - Blush
 

James will smile a little at someone being astonished that he can use magic, “I’m still pretty shaky on the why and how myself, but yes, it seems that I can.”

//James would like to use the spell Supernal Vision again, and view Joe and Westin with it. Dice pool 6.

If successful, James will presumably see that Westin and Joe are more than meets the eye. “And just like a lot of the party goers, I can see there is something a little different about the two of you.”

December 18th 2010 - Blush
 

//SECTION 1 CLARIFICATION: “How are you useful to the Mayor?” Marie asks Westin.

December 18th 2010 - Blush
 

Section 2:

Catching their shared glance of worry, Marie offers a friendly comment, “I wouldn’t be too quick to judge. He and I are both intelligent adults with a healthy sense of skepticism, not a couple of preteens with UFO posters. The kidnappers that were just a few feet away from us in the Mayor’s office were definitely not human.”

Marie’s jaw practically drops as James goes through his rant. When he finishes, she says, “Wow. That was a lot for one sitting.”

After Joe and Westin their questions, Marie will feel obligated to step in on James’ behalf, who is clearly confused about having said too much too soon. She will tell Westin and Joe, “Well, now that you know our side of the story, I would say it’s only fair that we hear your side of it. And it sounds like you two are involved with some of the groups that were at the ball. Do you know anything about them that will help James and I investigate their activities?”

After James’ revelation of Westin and Joe’s super-human natures, Marie will become suspicous of their motives since they are not normal humans after all, and will use Spotting Lies to determine the truth of their next response to James.

December 18th 2010 - Blush
 

“I’ll be damned…” Westin whispers, watching James do his trick. “Wait, so you can do this too, Marie?” He chuckles and shakes his head. “I’ve spent most of my life digging up ancient artifacts and studying musty texts to learn all I could about the mystical beliefs and practices of ancient cultures, and here I meet two genuine full-on wizards at a ball in Chicago and take them out for drinks. Now that’s irony!” He laughs again. “What about you, Joe? Did you ever hear of anything like this?” For the moment, Westin seems to be disregarding James’ comment and Marie’s question.

December 18th 2010 - Blush
 

James will sigh, and shake his head, “Well, I’m not entirely sure why I divulged all that, but I admit, it’s a bit of a relief to have done so. I know just as little about the groups at the mayor’s ball as you, Joe, I’m afraid. I didn’t recognize a single one of them.” James will attempt to describe the various groups (using mundane means, not mentioning the auras). “As far as your offer Joe, I don’t mean offense, but it sounds like whatever you intend for us to deliver would be less than friendly, hearing how you’ve spoken about Rohet thus far.” James will also turn to Marie, “I apologize, I did not intend to divulge our natures so easily. No harm done thus far though.”

December 18th 2010 - Blush
 

“So you’re an expert in the occult?” Marie thinks aloud after hearing Westin’s interests. “Then you know much more than James and I about magic.” She smiles suddenly and addresses Westin directly, “It seems that we have something of interest to share with each other. I don’t suppose that you would like to join us in our endeavors? We share the same enemy and could certainly use your expertise.”

Humbled by Joe’s offer, she nods and says quietly, “Thank you for that protection. I’m sure that we will need it in the future, especially if Rohet is even half the criminal that you claim.”

Marie waits for James to politely refuse Joe’s job offer before nodding. “I agree with James that it’s not a good idea for us to deliver an unfriendly message or gift to Rohet right off the bat. The retaliation it would provoke, whether we succeed or fail, may penetrate even through Elysium’s walls, and we would still be without his known associates, methods, or goals. Perhaps we could do something subtle to block his advance into the city?” She looks for Joe’s reaction, trying to see if she’s accidentally crossed a line by making the suggestion. “At least until we know where to look after Rohet?”

Marie nods slightly at James’ apology, “No harm, no foul. It needed to be said and sounds like it helped.”

I can’t help but to agree with James that

December 18th 2010 - Blush
 

//Oops! Ignore the unfinished last sentence. I went in a different direction and forgot to delete it.

December 18th 2010 - Blush
 

Addressing Marie, Westin says, “Well, an expert in the history and myths surrounding it. Clearly I missed a few things along the way.” He grins. “I’d be glad to work with the two of you. Life in Chicago is already proving far more dangerous than I had anticipated, and I can use all the friends I can get.” Westin looks at Joe uncertainly. “If we’re going to cooperate, though, there are certain aspects of my nature you should probably be prepared for. Wouldn’t you say, Joe?”

“I think you two underestimate the protection that Elysium entails. While it certainly cannot protect us from social or financial or, for that matter, mortal attacks, any…anyone who violated that code would bring the wrath of the city down upon themselves. I should think that even Maxwell would not risk such an attack, for fear of sparking chaos and rebellion among the Kindred.”

“And James…I’m afraid you’re not entirely at fault for that little episode of helpfulness…” Westin smiles guiltily.

December 18th 2010 - Blush
 

//Sorry guys, been swamped :)

“I apologize for assuming something sinister was involved, but by the way you spoke of Rohet, can you blame me?” James will try a smile at that. “I’m not usually one for gossiping and sharing secrets, but I must admit, this has been a very enlightening conversation. I am curious what you mean by your nature though, you’re clearly not mages, at least not like the few I’ve met so far.”

To Westin, James will narrow his eyes a little, “What do you mean, ‘not at fault’?”

December 18th 2010 - Blush
 

Westin takes another gulp of Bloody Mary to calm his nerves, finishing off yet another one.

“Well, I, uh…I may have given your emotions a slight nudge in that direction…” Without meeting James’ eyes, Westin hurriedly continues. "Look, I know that’s a pretty poor way to start off a partnership, but when you said “inhuman” I had to know more. I needed to know what you saw, what’s out there. I just got a little more than I bargained for. Anyway, I am sorry. It won’t happen again."

December 18th 2010 - Blush
 

Marie frowns in confusion. “I’m sorry to interrupt, but who is Maxwell? I can tell from the context that he’s not friendly, but is he in league with Rohet?” She looks at Joe then Westin and back again.
-—-
“That’s wonderful!” Marie beams at Westin’s acceptance. “We could use all the help we can get.”
-—-
Marie loses some of the tension in her posture at Joe’s clarification of “message” and breathes a quiet sigh of relief. She waits for James, then says, “I’m sorry too,” laughing nervously. “Guess I’m still jittery from earlier.” She glances at James, and asked, “What do you think? A regular message shouldn’t be so bad.”
-—-
Marie’s attention caught at ‘temper.’ “Like the Hulk?” she asks, still wide eyed and expecting anything after his last confession.
-—-
“That’s not all,” Marie says gently to Westin after he reveals the first part of his secret, and looks pointedly at James.
-—-
Marie leans forward to hear Westin’s big secret.
-
She gasps.
-
“Why would Merlin not tell us after we awakened?” she practically hisses at James. “We knew what we saw!”

December 18th 2010 - Blush
 

Regarding Maxwell

Westin grimaces before answering. “Maxwell is Prince Maxwell, Lord of the Kindred of Chicago. I don’t know if he’s in league with this Rohet or not – I guess we’ll find out.”

Regarding the Hulk

“Ha!” Westin is caught off guard by the remark. “Not exactly, but that’s not a bad analogy, either.”

Regarding Merlin

“Wait, Merlin? Like, King Arthur? But that’s just a myth…” Westin’s eyes get as big as saucers.

December 18th 2010 - Blush
 

After the conversation reaches its head, with the Vampire revelation, James will let out a long sigh, “I suppose it’s true what they say, a wise man admits that he knows nothing. Every day for the past few weeks I think I’ve seen or heard or done something that I was told wasn’t real my whole life. You have both been very up front with us, and I want to return the favor. With regards to this Rohet and Maxwell – who may just be separate parties – do I really want to get on their radar? Joe, if you know about Mages, then it’s safe to say that at least Maxwell will, if he’s the Lord of Chicago. Won’t Marie and I be a little out of our depth?”

Regarding Merlin

“I think that is a moniker that he chose, paying homage to the Merlin. Who probably did exist.”

December 18th 2010 - Blush
 

//Westin’s Daeva weakness is going to come out right here – his “art” is cultural artifacts, especially ones he’s never seen before.

When Joe puts the coin out, Westin’s gaze fixates on it as if nothing else in the room matters.

“Is that a genuine Sumerian Shekel?” He breathes out. He leans across the table, somewhat awkwardly, to get a closer look. He glances up at Joe for a moment before returning his eyes to the coin, studying its every feature. “Can I hold it?”

December 18th 2010 - Blush
 

James’s interest is most certainly piqued, “May I take a look at the coin?” (If Westin can tear himself away from it) James will take it in his hand and use his Supernal Vision on it, to see if there is more to the coin than meets the eye. (6 dice)

December 18th 2010 - Blush
 

Westin picks the coin up without waiting for permission and examines it closely, turning it over and over in his hands.

//reroll my skills for closer study?

Although he looks slightly annoyed, Westin holds the coin up for James to see – he does not, however, actually hand it off. “Have a glance with those magic eyes, but don’t touch – I wouldn’t want such an artifact damaged.” He turns back to Joe. “Where’d you get it?”

December 18th 2010 - Blush
 

Seeing Joe’s expression, Westin gulps, and slowly – carefully – sets the coin back down on the table and scoots back into his seat.

December 18th 2010 - Blush
 

//Urg, triple post! I am ready to accept the mission and move on.

December 18th 2010 - Blush
 

Before Westin puts the coin down

James’s eyes will go wide, even as he slips into his other sight. He will examine the coin from every angle, watching the invisible light dance across its surface. “Do you know what you have in your hand? Do you know where this comes from?” James will look to Joe, “do you know the name of the Mageling you got this from?”

//I’m ready to move on soon, after we discuss the coin.

December 18th 2010 - Blush
 

Marie freezes as she studies the coin. “Is that what I think it is?” she asks James in bewilderment, remembering the symbol as well (according to Alex).

December 18th 2010 - Blush
 

“I’m afraid that I can’t say how much monetary value this coin has, but I, and my associates, will be very interested to study it’s origins.” James will smile, “As far as what those origins are, or might be, this is the first time I’ve known something that you might not. You’ll forgive me if I savor that a bit. Perhaps once we’ve completed our task, I’ll let you in on it.”

To Westin about the “payment”

“I understand your curiosity about the coin, and if you’re willing, I know a few people that might be willing to share their knowledge about it with you, in exchange for examining it.”

December 18th 2010 - Blush
 

This “…stupid, stupid, stupid…” He mutters quietly. Knowing he’ll have no chance to walk back into the club without being seen – assuming they haven’t already recognized him – he realizes that he’ll have to spend the rest of the night keeping up the Masquerade rather then resolving his current predicament. He sighs with a mixture of frustration and relief, then composes himself and approaches the group." is awesome!!

December 18th 2010 - Blush
Rase Cidraen Rase Cidraen

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