Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Night 7 In the Land of the Dead

Night 7
In the Land of the Dead
Friday, November 13th, 1992

Maya

Maya awakens, and forces herself out of the shallow grave she had dug for herself.  Is anyone in the ruined house? It’s a ruined husk in the middle of nowhere, so the odds are “No Way.” I roll an Exceptional Yes! Who’s there? Imitate Friendship. She hears voices up ahead, a number of them. She creeps upstairs, quietly. Spending some of her precious remaining blood to heal her remaining wounds. She remains unnoticed as she peers into the remains of the house’s living room.

Inside are three men, two of them acting almost aggressively relaxed. The third is more nervous, with his eyes darting into every shadow and corner. He kept asking when “he” would be there, and why wasn’t he there now. The other two dismiss his concerns, insisting that “he” will be there soon, and offering him beer or cigarettes. The nervous one takes a  cigarette, but declines the beer. At least, he tries to, until it is forced into his hands.

Maya’s hunger has become a palpable thing, gnawing and screaming inside her. She needs to get away, but the men block the only way out. While she knows the shadows can hide her, she does not trust herself to get through the room, particularly with the nervous one jumping at every errant noise. So, she waits. Waits as the two trade jokes and stories about women and scores. Waits while the nervous one makes circuit after circuit around the house until he is finally ordered to sit the fuck down.

They go back to their idle small talk after that, drinking beers, smoking cigarettes and pot. Seeming to be completely content to spend their night in this ruined house in the middle of the woods, with no heat or lights. When the nervous one asks about starting a fire, he is quickly shot down, and told to drink his beer and relax. Maya doesn’t know how long they intend to wait there, but they must have a car she figures. If she needs to wait for them to drink themselves into a stupor, so be it. It’s still faster than walking.

Eventually, one of the men stands up, holding a buzzing pager in his hand. He looks at the nervous one, and reassures him that “he” just sent him a message, and he’ll be here soon. The nervous one eagerly gets up to look out of the paneless windows, desperate for this mysterious arrival. As he does, the other two calmly walk behind, draw their guns, and shoot him in the back.

The sudden and casual violence shocks Maya, but worse is the smell of blood gushing from the man’s wounds. She loses all composure and leaps out of the shadows. The two men turn on her, alarmed by the sudden presence of the screaming, blood thirsty monster. She tears them apart, their weapons firing uselessly throughout the house, and she drinks deeply.

Maya failed her Conscience check to resist Frenzy, so she just what into Fight mode. The fight started a bit rough for her, but she was able to overcomes them.  With two victims, Maya is able to heal all her accumulated wounds and still end up full and content. She has once again brutally murdered mortals, despite her repeated vows to not kill. But, she is able to retain her humanity, her guilt and remorse at her act eased with the knowledge that they were cold blooded murders.
She slashes the throats of her victims, hoping to confuse anyone who finds the bodies before the animals can dispose of them. She takes whatever cash she can they have, as well as the car keys. A curious glance at the pager shows only the number “7” listed—a code of some sort, she figures. Shrugging, she leaves the house and sees a beat up old pickup truck parked in the rear.  The key fits it, and it starts easily, obviously well maintained despite its decrepit appearance. Full and with a ride, she drives off to Denver, hoping she’s in time to save Daron and Trent.

Daron

Random Event roll 8. No event.

Daron awakens, still confined in his body bag and stuck in the refrigerator. His bones and skin ached and scream in pain, pain he had thought he would never feel again. He was hungry, in pain, and wondering where the hell is Maya? She should have been there last night, but as the hours ticked by and he and Trent had to remain as still as, well, as corpses, the realization that she wasn’t coming dawned on them. They were forced to allow themselves to fall to sleep, hoping that there would be no need for an autopsy. Apparently, there wasn’t. A small miracle, he thinks mirthlessly.

He knows they should have left town when he had wanted to. Just get in his car and drive the fuck away. A car that fucking worked, that could have gotten away from the cops. A car he would still have, if it wasn’t for them having to put it up as “collateral” to Trent’s useless ass friend. Why the hell had he allowed Trent and Maya to convince him to stick around? Fuck it, he thinks. He’s here now. He needs to focus on what to do. What does he do? Trust Legal Matters. Stick to the plan, he tells himself. The door to the refrigerator is locked, and in his broken state he doubts he has the strength to break through it. He forces himself to wait, to be patient. To wait for Maya.

Maya

Maya drives the pickup into Denver, stopping at a gas station to look up where the Coroner’s Office was. She had hoped that it was in some convenient, out of the way building. But, no, it’s located at Denver General Hospital. The very place they were afraid to go to together, and now she needs to sneak and steal two bodies without anyone noticing. Two, hopefully, mobile bodies, granted.  But still, an official building full of doctors and security is the last place she wants to be.

She drives to Walmart and picks up some clothes for the boys, figuring they’ll need it. Walking amidst the harsh fluorescent lights while surrounded by mortals is almost physically painful for her. She does her best to keep anyone from looking at her, but the clerk as she checks out catches a glimpse of her terrifying face, and is left staring in horror as Maya quickly exits the store (Manipulation + Etiquette, failure).

She parks the pickup near on the Hospitals secondary entrances. And tries to enter, hoping it was still visitor’s hours. Is it? 50/50—100 EXCEPTIONAL NO. The hospital is closed to all save patients and staff, and this provokes a roll on the Random Encounters. NPC Action (Zoe & Suzanne) Procrastinate Tension.

She walks to the front doors, hoping to be let in, but sees that they are locked, and that visiting hours are over. She looks in, trying to get the guards attention so he can at least buzz her into the building. And then, walking through the hospital far in the back she sees someone. A merest glimpse really, but she clearly recognizes Suzanne, and someone who is with her. Someone she knew. (Int check, 1 success). Zoe.

Suzanne was one thing. Suzanne, she could see being at the hospital—for a follow up or something. But Zoe? Zoe had no business being the Hospital. Didn’t Daron say he spoke with her? What the hell did he say to her? Why were they here? She needs to hurry.

She bangs on the door, until the security guard looks up from his desk. A click on the intercom comes on “Yes?” It asks.

What does Maya tell him? “My daughter!” She says. “My daughter is up in Pediatrics, and I need to see her. I’m supposed to sit with her tonight.” Maya knows that visiting hours don’t apply to immediate family, particularly those with children.

“Name?”

Maya has no idea, so she attempts to just baffle him, confuse him just enough to get him to open the damn door. Manipulation + Subterfuge (3 dice) against a difficulty of 8 (someone lying to get into the hospital for nefarious reasons is exactly why this guy has a job, after all), and gets 1 success. Just enough for the guard to buzz the door open so he can talk to her in person, and confirm with Pediatrics.

As soon as she’s through the door, she focuses on the guard and hopes that he will forget about her. 3 Successes, and not only does she seem to vanish from his view, but he forgets ever interacting with her at all. As he sits there, looking blankly at the door with glazed eyes, she quickly heads deeper into the hospital, feeling again the exhaustion and despair that overwhelmed her last night. (Obfuscate 2 requires a Willpower point, a resource she is rapidly running out of).

She can’t ask for help, but she needs to find out where the morgue is, and fast. She must get there before Suzanne and Zoe do, assuming that’s where they’re going. Wits + Bureaucracy, and she botches. The winding hallways and indistinct sitting rooms all blend together, and by the time she gets to the morgue…

Zoe & Suzanne

Zoe flips through the papers on the desk, while Suzanne nervously looks back down the hallway. “Relax,” Zoe says. “The attendant won’t be back for at least 45 minutes. We have time.”

“This just seems wrong,” Suzanne says. “I mean, we were wrong, weren’t we? What I saw, what Daron told you? It’s just…wrong, right?”

“No,” Zoe says, stopping her search and looking at Suzanne. “It’s the only thing that makes sense. What happened to you in that basement, what I saw Daron do. What happened to Mavis and Vince. Hell, it even explains the recent cattle mutilations.”

“But they’re dead. They’re down here, and they’re dead, and they aren’t supposed to be.”

Zoe doesn’t answer, turning her attention back to the files. She’s silent, until she finds the list she was looking for. She holds it up for Suzanne to see “Look, I don’t know how all this works.  All I know is that they’re here, and we’re here. And we’re going to get some real answers.” And she heads back towards the refrigerators.

Suzanne rushes after her, grabbing her arm. “Ok, ok, but what if they’re…what if it’s true. Is the middle of the night really the best time to be doing this? I mean, shouldn’t we wait until, like, noon. Or something?”

Zoe calmly removes her hand from her and says “It’ll be ok. We’ve gone over this, we have to do it now, because now, in the middle of the night, is the only time we can. The place is too populated during the day. And we have all the protection we could need. We just need to check the rigor of the bodies, see what they look like, and get a few samples. Then we’re gone. Ok?”

Suzanne calms down, and acquiesces, but she is far from “ok” with this. Being in a subterranean room full of corpses was hard enough for her to handle.  But worse was finding out the truth. Ever since the basement, she had been poked and prodded and made to feel like she had lost her mind. Zoe had been a reprieve, a strong anchor telling her that, no, she was fine. She was right. And the horrors she had seen had been real, not just a “childish fantasy.”

But now they were about to find out. Would Daron and Trent leap from the dead like the movies said? Have they become “unholy creatures of the night?” Or were they just dead, and everyone else was right. That she was broken, that she was crazy, that she needed to be locked up. She isn’t sure which answer would terrify her more.

Zoe finds the correct units. She draws her stake, and signals to Suzanne, who pulls out the crucifix and the super soaker they had loaded with holy water and crushed garlic. Do they open Trent or Daron’s first? (Trent even, Daron odd—5, Daron). Suzanne covers her, as Zoe unlocks the refrigerator. With one final look and nod at each other, she opens the door and rolls out the rack, keeping an eye on the body bag.

They pause for a second, but seeing no movement, Zoe decides to proceed. Fingers trembling, she unzips the bag, revealing the still corpse of Daron beneath.

“Took you long enough,” he says, opening his eyes.

Both girls scream. Daron screams. Everyone is screaming.  Zoe and Suzanne thought they were ready for this, but thinking and reality are two different things. They both need to make Self-Control checks to proceed, difficulty is only 6 since they were somewhat prepared. Zoe fails, and stumbles backwards, knocking over a tray full of instruments. Suzanne, however, has been waiting for this, and steps up, looks Daron in the eye, and tells him to go fuck himself before firing her super soaker in his face.

Daron recoils at the unexpected soaking, out of fear and shock rather than any actual pain. “What the shit?!” He calls out. Then, his eyes narrowing as Suzanne’s widen, he says. “Drop it.”

She does.

Zoe, regaining herself, takes this opportunity to rush at Daron, the stake held high. She is just about to strike him when a thunder clap fills the room and a nearby beaker explodes on to her.

“Drop the stick, Zoe,” Maya says from the doorway, a smoking 9mm in her hand.

What do Zoe and Suzanne do? Communicate Jealousy.

“Damnit,” Zoe says, dropping the stake on the ground. “Should’ve figured you would be around too. Where have you been, anyway?”

Ignoring her, Maya gestures with her gun for them to move to the opposite side of the room. “Ok, girls. Listen up, we’ve been really doing our best to avoid killing people, but don’t make us make an exception. You ok. Daron?”

“Yeah. I’m fine,” he says, examining his broken limbs for the first time, marveling at how they hang from his body and shaking the water from his head. “What was this? Garlic water?”

“Holy Water, with garlic.” Suzanne answered, angrily.  Pissed at Daron, pissed at Zoe, and pissed at every one who refused to believe her.

“Huh, well. That answers that question, I guess,” Maya says. “Ok, you wanna tell us what you’re doing visiting your old friends with a holy water gun?”

“What do you think?” Suzanne glares at her. She is about to continue, when a thumping begins to come from the other refrigerator unit. They all turn to look at it—it’s rhythmic, and constant, but with a clear sense of menace. And rage.

 “Trent.” Zoe says quietly.

“Maya, let him out.” Daron says. “I got my eye on these two.”

Keeping the gun trained on the would-be hunters, Maya slides over to Trent’s unit. “Trent?” She asks quietly. “Trent? You ok?”

The angry moaning sound is not the response she wanted. “I think…I think we just leave him in there for a few minutes.”

Zoe and Suzanne share a look, the absolute danger they’re in just beginning to dawn on them.

Maya and Daron also glance at each other, completely at a loss of what to do now.  Where does everyone go from here?

Maya: Stop Balance.
Daron: Betray Anger.
Zoe: Attainment Exterior Factors.
Suzanne: Haggle Masses.

“We can’t let them go,” Maya says, aiming the gun cleanly at Zoe's head.

“Don’t waste the bullet,” Daron says, standing up, exposing a naked, shattered body that moves with an unnatural gait. “We don’t want to spill anything.”

“Wait!” Suzanne cries.

“Did you wait?!?” Daron demands, glaring at her.

“We can help!” Zoe exclaims.

“Zoe, please don’t make this any harder.” Maya asks, sadly.

Maya is ready to kill Zoe and Suzanne. Daron is as well, but he wants to use them to feed himself, and possibly Trent.  Zoe is ready to offer her help to them, to find a cure. Suzanne as well, both to spare herself and for another, darker reason she’s not yet ready to admit to herself. She’s angry and hurt, yes. At the kidnapping and the murder of her friends. But more, she’s hurt that she wasn’t “chosen”—that she was left to die, to be a victim, and not to be one of them (the “Jealousy” element from earlier).

Since Zoe and Suzanne are the ones whose lives are on the line, I decide that they need to plead their case. They’ll both need to make their argument with a Charisma + Leadership rolls, at difficulty of 8, due to Daron’s current blood pool--he’s at 2 right now, and ready to snap. I don’t have stats for these two, so I decide that Suzanne, as a theater major, has a Charisma of 3 and a Leadership of 2. Zoe has a Charisma of 2, and a Leadership of 1. They’ll need 5 successes to force Daron to make a Self-Control, 10 to completely convince the vampires to let them live. They both, naturally, spend a Willpower point. Zoe—8,9,4. 2 Successes. Suzanne—10, 1, 8, 2, 9. 2 Successes. For a total of 6, all together. Maya is convinced in their sincerity to understand what is going on, and to help them. Particularly the hope that Zoe can undo whatever was done to them.  Daron’s desperate hunger for blood is urging him to rip their throats out—but he tries to push it back. Killing anyone revolts him, but killing a friend is a line he never wants to cross again. Daron rolls his Self-Control and gets a 7,1,7. With 1 success, he tears his gaze from them.

“Fine!” He says. “But we need to get Trent out of here. And then we ALL leave.”

They unlock Trent, whose broken and sunken visage is even more terrifying than Daron’s. Suzanne and Zoe are spared his frenzy, only thanks to the presence of Daron and Maya. Neither Daron nor Trent are in any shape to walk out, but they dress themselves in the clothes Maya brought, and have Suzanne and Zoe fetch wheelchairs from the hospital. The two girls will push them out to the cars, with Maya keeping her gun ready for any sudden betrayals.

Escaping the hospital is relatively easy (Manipulation + Subterfuge, 3 successes), as the security is in place to keep people out, at least at this level. Trent is barely conscious, and Daron offers to take him out, to try hunting on the ranches again. Maya will take the others back to campus.

Mythic Roll 10. No random event.

The night is growing late, and Daron and Trent only have two hours to hunt (2d10/hour). While the module says the difficulty for hunting is only a 4, I increase it to 5. The recent spate of dead cattle has the farmers and ranchers increasingly worried about their herds. They are both able to kill enough to sate their hunger and heal their wounds, though many cows die at their hands. Their barely controlled hunger is so great that they don’t even pretend to practice self-control, instead feeding and drinking with a savage abandon. The gross attack, ensures that even more ranchers will be worried, and future hunting rolls among the cattle will be at a 7.

Maya leaves Zoe and Suzanne on the edge of campus, but tells them to be at Zoe’s dorm tomorrow night. They’ll be contacting them, and they expect an answer. She also points just how lucky they were tonight, and there won’t be a second chance (Manipulation + Intimidate at difficult of 4) 2 Successes. They damn well believe her.

The coterie retreats to their haven, too exhausted from their adventures to even begin processing what has happened, let alone speak of it.


And the Chaos Factor increases to 8.

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