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Baptism by Fire

Part Two, Chapter Three: Fight or Flight

Chapter Three of Part Two opened one week following the events of Chapter One. The Coterie had been holed up in Sylvia’s penthouse haven for seven days, Cassandra was in torpor, and two ghouls had fled. In addition, Anne Brown was AWOL. About one hour after sunset, however, Anne arrived and begged entry. She informed the Coterie that hunters in vans had followed her to the building and that they were outside. She then told them that she knew of a way to escape through the Labyrinth. Revealing a distressing gullibility, the Coterie followed her down into the sewers without a single question, pausing only to grab their weapons and the books of magic Nyah had borrowed from LaCroix’s library.

Anne led the Coterie through the Labyrinth and directly into a trap: a dead-end room in the sewers. She gloated briefly, declaring that she had conspired with the Saint to trap the group in revenge for the death of Rebecca Lovelace and her own shoddy treatment. Her celebration was short-lived, however — the Saint’s hounds dragged her down and he staked her. Then he turned his attention to the trapped Coterie.

The battle that ensued was brutal. The Coterie had Sylvia, Christian, Alexandra, Mr. Hudson, and Nyah with some books. The Saint had himself, his divine magic, four deadly hounds, and four SWAT-equipped Hunters en route. Nyah immediately retreated to safety to scour her books for some spell that might help, and the rest moved in to engage. Fortunately, Nyah was able to quickly break the Saint’s hold over his hounds, which turned the tide of the battle. Still, Christian was beat into torpor, but it was too late for the Saint. He fell and was beheaded. The remaining Hunters succumbed to Sylvia’s Magesty, and the hounds were dispatched.

In the wake of the battle, the Coterie used their mental control to make the hunters communicate to their leaders that all of the vampires in the Twin Cities had been destroyed. This ended the hunter threat once and for all. Of course, the thread was not ended before all the most powerful kindred in the Cities had been killed, leaving only the Coterie to fill the power vacuum. They decided to maintain the political structure of a Council rather than a single Prince, and divided the Cities amongst themselves.

Epilogue

In the years that followed, the power of the Lancea Sanctum was broken. Nyah and Cassandra took the library and began to make serious progress along the path of the Ordo Dracul. Alexandra hunted the night, and both Alexandra and Cassandra worked to enforce the Council’s orders. Christian continued to amass political and economic power in the mortal world while recruiting vampires into the Invictus. And Mr. Hudson, who had been embraced in the wake of the battle, watched him, waiting for his own chance to turn the tide against his former master.

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Part Two, Chapter Two: Beyond the Fire
Fifth Session

When the Coterie awoke on the night of October 14th, they discovered that the computers they has taken from many of the Hunters they had killed had turned themselves on. On the screens was the repeating message, “The Saint has been alerted.” From questioning two Hunters that Christian had ghouled and blood-bonded, the Coterie learned that this program was designed to run automatically when emails were not sent every two days from hunters’ computers to their superiors. The ghouled Hunters suggested that the Saint referred to was likely Saint Gregory himself, head of the order of the Brothers of Saint Gregory — a sixth century Pope who still hunted vampires, according to legend.

Faced with this news, the Coterie decided to lay a trap. They took all the computers they had to a warehouse, while Nyah researched a spell to hold any Hunters that might try to retrieve the computers. At the same time, Nyah, who had begun bonding Anne Brown, learned that keeping Anne bound would slow her progress with the Ordo Dracul. Having set their trap, the Coterie retreated to a building nearby to watch the warehouse, while Cassandra left to go to La Croix’s library. She did not make it far. She was quickly attacked by a pack of six hounds, and only escaped by turning to mist.

On their way back to the church, they found two fledgling vampires feeding downtown without permission. These new kindred met a grisly fate. The Coterie then returned to the Basilica, where they were besieged. Rowan, who was trying to visit the Basilica, was caught in the siege and killed.

The Coterie snuck out of the Basilica through the labyrinth to Elcott’s haven, where they learned that he, too, had been killed. They then tried to sneak through the park to take the waiting Hunters by surprise. Unfortunately, Alexandra was clumsy, and set off a car alarm, alerting the Hunters. This led to a massive battle between the Coterie, five hounds, four Hunters, and Saint Gregory himself. This fight went badly for Cassandra, who only barely managed to make it to safety before falling into torpor. In fact, the Coterie as a whole only survived because the police, alerted by Christian, intervened in the nick of time. Fleeing the scene, the Coterie has now hidden themselves in Sylvia’s penthouse haven.

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Part Two, Chapter One: Meet the New Boss
Fourth Session

Part Two, Chapter One began with the Coterie leaving the Basilica only to be ambushed by Hunters. They soon learned, however, that the Hunters were not, in fact, hunting them—the Hunters were hunting a vampire gang known as the Lords of Blood. Of course, they only learned this after killing a couple more Hunters! The Coterie also learned that a numer of suspicious murders occurred during the riots, and that, apparently, vampires were feeding in their domain without permission… and perhaps even turning new kindred. This is an issue that Sylvia, the new Regent, will need to address.

After they dealt with the Hunters outside the Basilica, the Coterie attended an Elysium event at the Warehouse District Art-houses, an event intended to introduce the territory‘s new rulers. The Lords of Blood had decided to make their presence known at the same event, however. This turned out to be a serious mistake on the part of the gang’s leader, Gustov. The Coterie, backed by other Kindred, made short work of the bikers. This removed any doubt that the Coterie does, in fact, rule the Twin Cities.

In addition, Francis La Croix, the new North East Outlay Regent and Ordo Dracul Elder, has invited both Cassandra and Nyah to consult the library of Aaron Nash, which La Croix, Nash’s pupil, has inherited. Finally, Nyah has not begun to bind Anne Brown, and even seems to be sympathetic to her plight.

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Part One, Chapter Three: Fire in the Streets
Third Session

The characters began the night downtown. They found Aaron Nash standing on a makeshift stage at the north edge of Loring Park, making a speech to hundreds of protesters facing off against National Guard troops. Before the Coterie could move the protestors swelled forward and entered into combat with the Guard. Nash was pulled down by Caius, who had been stalking the crowd. The Coterie moved to aid Nash, but they were not quick enough to save him. Caius killed Nash, but he was killed in turn by the Coterie attacking him in a mob. Alexandra Kristov diabalrized him. Meanwhile, the riots spread throughout downtown, spreading fire and looting.

After the fight, as the riots spread, Brenna Foley found the group and informed them that an hour before sundown the police had raided Rowan Tate’s Haven. Her ghouls engage in violent defense of the Haven. Police were dead — and ghouls were, too. The police had moved in again when the sun set; unknown to Brenna, the five vampires inside awoke. In frenzy, they killed the invading police. The total body count: 5 ghouls, 9 police.

With the news that the police have laid siege to Rowan’s Haven, the Coterie moved to her aid, leaving downtown to burn. When the Coterie arrived at Rowan Tate’s Haven they found it surrounded by police. Uniformed police barricaded the front and side roads, and a SWAT team had taken up a position in the back, preparing to move in for a third time. Ghouls and vampires with guns watched from the windows of one house. Inside were Rowan Tate & Simon Elcott with three of Rowan’s Acolytes and eight ghouls. Outside were ten police officers and five SWAT officers.

The group, with Brenna helping, split up to deal with the threat. Sylvia and Christian Starbuck used their mental powers to convince the SWAT team to leave the premises. Nyah Abidemi entered the house in spirit form to scout ahead. Alexandra Kristov slipped into a police car and hacked the computer within, gaining access to the police mainframe. Meanwhile, Cassandra and Brenna battled the police in the streets to provide a distraction while Sylvia, Nyah, and Christian led the besieged vampires and ghouls out of the house.

Having defeated another threat, the whole remaining resistance force was together. Nyah briefly stopped to search Elcott’s Haven, and learned that Marcus Cillian Fuchs had been killed during the raid and that a new group of Hunters was responsible. She also learned that Simon had been meeting with the Establishment vampires — as
a double agent — and she found a route into The Labyrinth.

Moving on to the First Avenue Elysium, the resistance began to hatch a plan. Nyah discovered that Rebecca had been monitoring their progress, but they were still able to draw Tama Oshiro into betraying Rebecca with promises of power in the new Twin Cities. The group then moved to raid Rebecca’s Penthouse Haven, using a secret back way in known to Cassandra and Alexandra, while Christian, Sylvia, Tama, and Simon distracted the waiting group inside by going in the front. More violence left Micah and Rebecca Lovelace finally dead. Tama took Anne Brown into custody for her own reasons.

Now, the Resistance has taken the city, with heavy casualties on both sides. The Twin Cities are in chaos, and it is up to the Coterie to help forge a new order . . .

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The Assembly

Having utterly destroyed Rebecca Lovelace’s establishment, the Coterie, Brenna Foley, Rowan Tate, Simon Elcott, and Tama Oshiro met in an emergency meeting to discuss the new Kindred power structure in the Twin Cities. In a strategic move, Tama immediately announced that she would not take the position of Prince, thereby making a concession to the alliance of Nyah Abidemi, Cassandra, Brenna Foley, and Rowan Tate. Instead, she recommended that the city be ruled directly by the Primogen Council. The assembly voted unanimously to adopt that proposal.

After no little discussion, it was decided that the Council would consist of eight Regents. Those regents are to be: Brenna Foley in the Southwest Outlay, Francis La Croix in the Northeast Outlay, Grace Valentine in the Southeast Prefecture, Rowan Tate in the Southeast Outlay, Tama Oshiro in the Northeast Prefecture, Simon Elcott in the Southwest Prefecture, Anne Brown in the Northwest Outlay, and Sylvia in the Northwest Prefecture. In addition, the Assembly decided to place a young, unknown vampire, Alexandra Kristov, on the Council as the Ninth Council Member.

Other titles were further determined as follows: Cassandra was named Sheriff; Christian Starbuck was named Herald; Tama Oshiro and Simon Elcott would retain the titles of Seneschal and Master of Elysium, respectively. No other titles besides Primogen, Sheriff, Herald, Seneschal, and Master of Elysium are to be recognized in the Twin Cities under the new council.

Finally, other decisions were made. These included the decision to make Anne Brown subject to Nyah Abidemi via the Vinculum. This will place Anne under Nyah’s control and make her subject to the Coterie; it also makes Nyah responsible for Anne. The Assembly further decided that there would be monthly meetings of the Council unless an emergency meeting is called by the Herald, and that each Regent is responsible for progeny in their own domain. All other traditions are to be maintained, and disobedience may result in exile or the final death, decided on a case-by-case basis.

With the new government formed, the Coterie left St. Mary’s only to be met by two black vans and flying crossbow bolts…

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The Intervening Week

Character Actions

Cassandra spent the week using Animalism to train rats to report to her whenever they encounter a human or vampire in the labyrinth, and to train crows to report to her when they encounter a black van. She has also been meeting with Brenna Foley to learn more about the resistance and what is needed of her. From Brenna, Cassandra leanred that the battle for control of the Twin Cities would begin soon, and that it would be violent. Human cannon-fodder would cover the vampires’ fighting…

Christian Starbuck spent the week developng contacts with the Mayor’s office.

The group as a whole also dealt with the captive moral Bishop, Benjamin Kent. From Kent they learned that he follows orders from Micah. Micah gave Kent the location of both Isaac Kerr’s Haven and Simon Elcott’s Haven. Kent called in the Hunters at Micah’s request — he thought he could control them, but he was wrong. He was taken by the Hunters after informing them of Elcott’s Haven — they knew he was in the service of Vampires, and they were planning to take him to Rome before the PCs came along

Timeline

  • Wednesday, October 5th: New Hunters arrive in the city, police everywhere.
  • Friday, October 6th: Occupy Minneapolis sets up in Loring Park; Scuffles between protesters and police
  • Saturday, October 8th: Riots beginning in Loring Park sweep the city. Elcott’s Haven burns.
  • Sunday, October 9th: Riots continue; National Guard moves in.
  • Wednesday, October 12th—Part Two, Chapter One begins.
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Part One, Chapter Two: Into the Fray
Second Session

The Coterie began the night of October 4th at their anonymous hotel room in Rowan’s domain. Within an hour of awakening, Sylvia was called by Micah and told to meet him and Rebecca Lovelace at her penthouse, and to bring Christian Starbuck along. While they visited the Archbishop, Cassandra and Marcus patrolled, searching for vans. They found none.

Nyah Abidemi, meanwhile, examined the laptop from the van that Cassandra had sunk in a lake. On the computer Nyah found some interesting details. The Hunters were part of a conspiracy, members of a group known as “The Brothers of Saint Gregory.” They were called to the Twin Cities by the mortal Bishop, Benjaimin Kent, who told them the location of Isaac Kerr’s Haven. Finally, she found plans for a bar in the North-West Prefecture called Tootie’s.

At the Penthouse haven of Rebecca Lovelace, Sylvia had a surprise. One of her few remaining descendants, Alexandra Kristov, had been Embraced by Rebecca. Rebecca told the pair that she knew all about Cassandra and Nyah’s rebellion, and that she expected Christian and Sylvia to keep an eye on them. She also ordered them to continue hunting the Hunters, and she sent Alexandra along to keep Sylvia honest.

The group met back at the hotel, and left to go to the First Avenue Elysium. They left Frank Peretti, the captive hunter, tied up, unconscious, and guarded by a German Shepherd Cassandra had set to the task. Finding no vampires at First Avenue, the Coterie proceeded to Tootie’s, where things would become violent.

After extensive reconnaissance of the bar, the group stole weapons from the second van, parked nearby, and raided the bar. They killed three patrons and the bartender execution-style, as well as the cook. Cassandra and Nyah confirmed that the hunters were hiding in the basement, behind some sort of ward. Neglecting to search the stairwell, the group sent Alexandra straight into a fire trap, which she triggered. A bit of quick thinking – and a resisted frenzy – had her grabbing a fire extinguisher before the bar went up in flames. The fire extinguisher was also used to obscure the ward, allowing the group access to the basement.

In the basement the group discovered a number of things. They found Benjamin Kent bound in a corner. They found a passageway into the Labyrinth, into which they pursued the hunters. After a short battle the Coterie took the upper hand, killing two of the hunters and kidnapping a third.

They fled the scene as sirens approached.

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Part One, Chapter One: The Hunt Begins
First Session

Chapter One began with the Coterie called to the Basilica of Saint Mary for a territory-wide meeting. At this meeting it became clear that the Primogen Circle is divided into two factions. Those standing with Rebecca Lovelace, the Archbishop, were Micah, Caius, and Tama Oshiro; those standing apart from her were Brenna Foley, Rowan Tate, and Simon Elcott. Aaron Nash seemed to stand apart from either faction.

The meeting consisted in an announcement and a vow of fealty. Rebecca announced to the gathered Kindred that her friend and ally, Isaac Kerr, had been killed during the previous day – his haven had been burned, catching him in it. As a replacement, Rebecca named Anne Brown to be the new regent of the North-West Outlay, and Anne swore fealty to Rebecca in a blood ritual. After the meeting, the Coterie was approached by Brenna Foley and Micah. Brenna told Cassandra that she suspected the Archbishop of orchestrating Kerr’s demise. Micah told the entire group that he was going into hiding with the Archbishop, and that the Coterie was responsible for patrolling the North-West Prefecture, their domain.

Upon leaving the Basilica, the Coterie noticed a black van leaving the scene. Investigation revealed that there were two of these vans patrolling their domain.

During the first night the Coterie split up twice. Sylvia and Christian went to investigate the burned haven of Isaac Kerr, while Nyah went to meet with Rowan Tate and Aaron Nash, Cassandra went to meet with Brenna Foley, and Marcus went to meet with Simon Elcott. From Rowan, Brenna, and Aaron, Nyah and Cassandra learned that a resistance faction composed of Brenna Foley, Rowan Tate, Aaron Nash, and Simon Elcott had come to fear that the Archbishop was becoming increasingly fanatical. Isaac Kerr had come to fear the same, and had been secretly meeting with the resistance faction – this, they believed, was why Rebecca had had him killed. (Of course, they have no proof…) Cassandra and Nyah both declared their allegiance with the resistance. Meanwhile, Marcus found Simon tight-lipped.

From Kerr’s burned haven Sylvia and Christian recovered a charred door-knob. They brought it back to the rest of the Coterie when they met at First Avenue, and by using the Spirit’s Touch Nyah was able to see that the vans were occupied by human hunters tricked out in full SWAT gear. These hunters broke into Kerr’s haven during daylight hours, slaughtered his ghoul guards, and burned the building to the ground. Having learned this, Christian and Sylvia went looking for Rebecca and Micah – neither was anywhere to be found. Also not to be found was Caius.

At this point the Coterie spilt up for the second time, and this is when Marcus went back to investigate Kerr’s haven. This proved to be a mistake, as the hunters found him there. Failing to notice that he was being followed, Marcus led the hunters back to his own haven and went to ground without having fed. Upon awakening he was attacked with crossbow and machete – since he had no Vitae to spare he was hampered in his ability to flee or to fight, and he was beaten unconscious and staked. Fortunately for him, the rest of the Coterie spent the first half of the night searching for the vans, and finally found one at midnight. Again fortunately, it was transporting the staked body of their compatriot back to Saint Mark’s Catholic Church, just inside the South-East Prefecture.

After a preliminary investigation, during which Nyah used astral projection to scout ahead, the Coterie attacked the two hunters. Sylvia entranced one into withdrawing from the fight, but the battle was tense until Christian’s ghoul retainer, Mr. Hudson, entered the fray with a shotgun. Claiming victory, the Coterie recovered Marcus, removed the stake from his heart, and allowed him to feed on the injured hunter. The entranced hunter was questioned and the Coterie learned that the hunters considered themselves servants of God – they had been called into the Twin Cities by the mortal Bishop headquartered at the Basilica of Saint Mary, Father Benjamin Kent. It was Kent who had informed the hunters of the location of Kerr’s hideout, the only haven location the hunters were given. Searching the vans revealed weapons, body armor, and computers, as well as Bibles and rosaries. The Coterie disposed of the dead hunter’s corpse in the Mississippi, the van in a lake, and held the still-entranced hunter captive, taking him back to a hotel room.

Chapter One ended with the Coterie reunited at the hotel with a captive hunter, a few leads, and more questions than answers…

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Recent Developments

Recently, Micah has brought together a disparate groups of vampires unassociated with the Lancea Sanctum for the purpose of propping up the Covenant’s power in the Twin Cities — the idea is that if members of other Covenants support Lancea Sanctum rule, it will be more secure. Whether this gambit proves successful or a liability remains to be seen …

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The Story So Far: A Vampiric History of the Twin Cities

Despite the “Twin” moniker, the two cities are independent municipalities with defined borders and are quite distinct from each other. Minneapolis is somewhat newer, with modern skyscrapers and broad streets. St. Paul has been likened to a European city with more quaint neighborhoods, and a vast collection of well preserved late-Victorian architecture.

St. Paul was founded near Dakota Sioux Indian settlements as a trading and transportation center. Following the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, a U.S. Army officer named Zebulon Pike negotiated approximately 100,000 acres of land from the local Dakota tribes in order to establish a fort. The negotiated territory was located on both banks of the Mississippi River. A U>S. Army fort, Fort Snelling, was built in the territory in 1819. After a 1837 Treaty with the Sioux ceded all local tribal land east of the Mississippi to the U.S. Government, fur traders, explorers, and missionaries came to the area for the fort’s protection. By the early 1840s, the community had become important as a trading center and a destination for settlers heading west. Along with these settlers came the first vampires, a small coterie led by an unaligned Gangrel named Everit Drake.

In 1841, Father Lucien Galtier was sent to minister to the Catholic French-Canadians and established a chapel named for his favorite saint, Paul the Apostle, on the bluffs above Lambert’s Landing. Galtier intended for the settlement to adopt the name Saint Paul in honor of the new chapel. This brought the Lancea Sanctum to the area, as the covenant was spreading across the Americas along with the Catholic Church.

The Minnesota Territory was formalized in 1849 and Saint Paul named as its capital. The Minnesota Territorial Legislature authorized present day Minneapolis as a town on the Mississippi’s west bank in 1856. Minneapolis incorporated as a city in 1867, the year rail service began between Minneapolis and Chicago. By 1871, the west river bank had twenty-three businesses including flour mills, woolen mills, iron works, a railroad machine shop, and mills for cotton, paper, sashes, and planing wood.

On May 11, 1858, Minnesota was admitted to the union as the thirty-second state, with Saint Paul as the capital. That same year more than 1,000 steamboats were in service at Saint Paul, making the city a gateway for settlers to the Minnesota frontier or Dakota Territory. Along with the influx of settlers and political activity came increasing numbers of vampires, most notably the covenant of the Invictus. The Invictus immediately challenged the dominance of the Lancea Sanctum in the region, sparking a conflict that would last for 110 years.

During the Great Depression, the Twin Cities saw the violent Teamsters Strike of 1934. The strike began on May 16, 1934, in the Market District (the modern day Warehouse District) and the ensuing violence lasted periodically throughout the summer. Though the strikes and the riots which accompanied them had mortal political causes, they were exacerbated and used by the vampire power structure. Under cover of mortal violence what had been a cold war between the Lancea Sanctum and the Invictus erupted into hot bloodshed. Throughout the summer the battles raged, until an Invictus vampire by the name of Granger made an uneasy peace between the covenants and was named Prince. Tensions continued to simmer, however.

In the 1960s, during urban renewal, St. Paul razed western neighborhoods close to downtown. During the 1950s and 1960s, Minneapolis razed about two hundred buildings across twenty-five city blocks — roughly 40% of downtown. The city also contended with the creation of the interstate freeway system in a fully built landscape.

In the same period tensions between the Invictus and Lancea Sanctum leaderships threatened once again to break out into open conflict. A group of bold ancillae (Kindred too old to be considered neonates, but not yet elders) hatched an ambitious plan. Forging an alliance between the younger members of the warring covenants, they orchestrated the death of almost the entire Primogen Circle and the Prince, Granger; the only two elders who survived what has come to known as “The Purge” fled the Cities.

The leaders of this rebellion were a Lancea Sanctum Mekhet vampire named Rebecca Lovelace and an Invictus Nosferatu named Isaac Kerr. In 1968 Rebecca became Archbishop. Isaac took power as the Priscus of the Nosferatu and a ranking member of the Primogen Circle. As a sign and guarantee of their bond Rebecca named a Lancea Sanctum Nosferatu named Caius to be Inquisitor — as both Nosferatu and Lancea Sanctum he has ties to both Rebecca and Isaac.

This state of affairs has proven stable for the past 4 decades. Though the Primogen Circle has seen some changes, Rebecca, Isaac, and Caius have remained the anchors of political power in the Twin Cities, balancing the ambitions of the Invictus and the Lancea Sanctum … right up until tonight, the summer of 2011.

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