Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Ravenous: The Coyote

The Coyote
Spring, 1991

Kali, Masaru, and Chester drove their beat up Gremlin to the outskirts of Escondido, California. They had talked about this for months now--the shared desire to strike out at the monsters that dominated their world, to gain revenge on those who had destroyed them, to force the world to make some sort of sense. What had once been fantasy was about to become reality. And now that it was here, that it was happening, all their big talk and assured confidence faded away. 

They had come all this way to kill a man none of them had ever met.

It was Masaru who gave them the information. Half-remembered from years ago, when he was still breathing. His fellow hunters had talked about a probably vampire in this small town, someone involved with human trafficking. Rumor had it that he imported a girls from Mexico and others countries further south, then sold them off down the line. But not all of them were sold. Some went "missing." His hunter crew had been pretty certain that he was keeping these for his "private stock." They had intended to follow up on it, after they had finished up the raid on that one nest. But, that last raid had ended in the death of the entire crew, many at Masaru's blood-frenzied hands. 

It was time to make things right.

Masaru didn't know much more than that. Just that there was probably a vampire who goes by the name "Oscuro." Somehow connected to the Surenos gang. Maybe partners, maybe just protection. He understood that this was a "high risk" proposition, but he was done being someone else's weapon--it was time for things to change, and Oscuro was as good a target as he had ever known.

First things first, they needed a place to hole up. It was still early in the night, but they couldn't be certain that this wouldn't take some time. They had to have a safe place to sleep, to hide from the sun and from any enemies they were bound to acquire during their stay in town. Escondido was a pit stain. Half the place was covered in warehouses and trucking companies, and all the associated crap of a logistics hub. Most of the rest was run down, lower class neighborhoods--decaying houses, crumbling apartments, shuttered stores.  Mainly Hispanic, the people who actually had to work to get by. The other part was nicer--larger houses, cleaner schools, full of the managers of the companies that leased the warehouses to various corporations with nonsense names like Gencorp. Mainly white people, and they clearly didn't give a damn about anything outside their manicured lawns.

I'm sure in the real world, Escondido is a lovely town. But this is my World of Darkness take on it. I honestly don't know anything about it.

Home sweet home
They headed to the warehouse area, looking for an abandoned one they could claim for their own use. Things were rough in Escondido, and finding empty ones were easy, though finding ones that were still intact enough took a bit more time. Still, they found one fairly easily, though it wasn't really empty--few structures ever are. There was a pair of bums in there, asleep in some heroin induced slumber. Kali thought for a moment about keeping them for themselves, but Masaru would hear nothing of that, and took it upon himself to remove the mortals to a safer place. After investigating the place a bit more, they found that the offices were still in decent condition, and the restrooms would be safe from the sun. They took what measures they could to secure it.

Now with a safe place to sleep, it was time to get to work.  Their best lead, such as they had, were the Surenos. In her time on the streets, Kali had actually interacted with the gang, or at least their Santa Clara version. She knew enough to figure out how they dress, where they like to hang out and do business, what they sell (mainly "party" drugs, like pot and E, but also meth and coke when they could), and what tags to look for.

She rolled 4 success on her Int + Streetwise roll, which was just overkill, to be honest. Also, I don't know anything about the Surenos, other than that they exist. 

With her guidance, the coterie soon found what they presumed to be the Sureno's main "headquarters" a rotisserie pork restaurant with a number of angry young men casually hanging around it. While they were driving around, they had come up with something resembling a plan. Since Oscuro was involved in trafficking, then perhaps he would be interested in a business opportunity. Chester and Masaru would pretend to be sellers, looking to hook him up with a connection for girls from South East Asia, with Kali as their "sample." The Sureno's may or may not be involved in the trafficking themselves, but hopefully they would at least be willing to arrange a meeting between the two groups.

Things, of course, started off rough. When a white guy and an Asian dude drove up in front of their headquarters in a beat up piece of shit car, well, the Sureno's didn't immediately figure these are people that needed to be taken seriously. They were clearly not cops, as even cops ain't dumb enough to drive around in a Gremlin. But still, the Sureno's saw no reason to discuss anything resembling business with them. In fact, it was only the sheer bizarre brazenness of the act that kept them from beating the crap out of the coterie and taking what little they have. Or, to be honest, attempting to. But Masaru is tough, serious looking guy, someone even they know to hold back from.

Intimidate 3. It helps.

And when Chester got out of the car and used some subtle Dominate, they knew these guys were here for business. Real business. 

Real business, though, requires someone with real authority. They made Chester wait inside, with Masaru keeping an eye on the "doped up" Kali. Roughly half an hour went by, with Masaru getting increasingly nervous, until some other member showed up. He looked tough as hell, covered in ink and scars. A fearful visage, only slightly offset by his hair being done up in a Pompadour.

This is Mateo. They haven't yet gotten his name, but figured out he was a fellow vampire pretty quickly.

Chester and Mateo negotiated back and forth. And first, Mateo was ready to dismiss them. Then low-ball them, figuring they were idiots who got lucky one night. A few successful Streetwise rolls, however, and soon Mateo understood that Chester knew his stuff, and wasn't going to get simply bought out. Normally, Mateo would just cut this guys and be on his way, but the Oscuro connection gave him pause. As well as his own realization that he was dealing with vampires.

Meetings take time, though, and Chester agreed to call a pre-arranged phone in three days for details on the when and where. With nothing to do but wait, the coterie headed back to their safe house, easily identifying and ditching a tail that had been set on them.

Kali, despite being a Caitiff of Nosferatu descent, has Obtenebration. A quick use of that stuck the trailing car in darkness, with predictable if not explosive results.

Once "home", they decide to split up and go hunting. It was rough going, Escondido at 3 in the morning isn't the most "target rich" environment. Kali did fine, knowing these sorts of streets well, but both Masaru and Chester ran into problems. Masaru was...picky...about his prey, and none of the few people out so late at night were just right for him. He needed someone dangerous, someone who some degree of justice coming his way. He wasn't going to hit some late night worker, coming from his second job just trying to feed his family. He needed a monster who had it coming. Chester, one knew what happened to Chester.

He was late getting back. Very late. Too late. Almost dawn late. Concerned, Kali and Masaru headed out to find him, and got lucky in that he wasn't terribly far from where they had left him. The alley they found him in was...odd. It was clean, far cleaner than any alley had a right to be. Almost new looking. And no critters or vermin or animals were anywhere in it. And there, in the back, stood Chester, arms spread and unmoving. Well, not standing, but floating, as if held aloft by some force. Floating helplessly, facing down the other side of the alley. Facing almost directly East.  Kali was able to bring him down, and they all hurried to their makeshift haven. When questioned, Chester had no recollection of anything since they had split up.

So,  the difficulty for Hunting is a variable based on where a character is hunting. The default for their location was a 5, but I upped it to 7, since none of them really knew this area. Kali rolled fine, Masaru failed, and Chester botched. I had him roll a d10 for a "random encounter," and he rolled a Mage. I didn't want to do a combat scene, or have him spontaneously turn into a lawn-chair, so I went with the above. Figured it'd be creepy and weird and leave open some options for the future.

The next night, they again killed time. Some light hunting, though Masaru still had difficulty. Kali decided to break into the local library and do some research on the town and its history.  While there, she discovered that just outside of town lay the Daley ranch. In itself, nothing remarkable, but it was a former Mexican Hacienda, dating back to early colonial times. The owner kept his land grant after the Mexican-American War, and it stayed in the family until the early 1900's, when the Daley family purchased it. They had kept it in near perfect condition ever since.

Kali was certain she had found something key. Is this Oscuro's haven? Or is there another vampire in town? Someone even older? Perhaps an even better target for their hunt? If he is an Elder, could he be the "Prince" of Escondido? Does Escondido even HAVE a Prince? It's a pretty small town, but does that really matter? She is determined to follow up on it, and she and Chester do a slow drive by of the place, getting a feel for the lay of the land, but are unwilling to approach without more information.

It's probably nothing.

As they retreat to their haven with the coming dawn, something disturbs Chester. The place isn't "right" anymore, and he wants to leave. Kali and Masaru calm him down, and convince him they can just move to a different part of the warehouse, that everything is fine. But during the day, Chester's premonition is proven right.

Three young men creep into the warehouse during the day. They weren't Surenos, that was clear. They were white. And wearing khaki's of all things. But they were quiet, and clearly looking for somebody. Only Chester is able to rouse himself from sleep, with the other two remaining vulnerable. He cloaked himself with Obfuscate and headed out to the main section of the warehouse, the light from the few rays of sunlight nearly blinding him and making his eyes bleed in pain. He knew he had little time, and acted desperately. Appearing amid them, he locked eyes with the largest, the one he figured was the leader, and used his Dominate to forced him to leave. The others were soon frightened away as well.

When they awoke the next night, they all decided that moving was in their best interest.

Chester's madness is tied to his belief in chaos, not premonition. But sometimes a coincidence becomes a correlation...

Masaru took the lead in finding them a new haven. This time he choose an abandoned farm house outside of town, but one with a storm cellar. Kali and Chester again worked on researching the history of the town, looking for any oddities, anything that stood out. In anything, this place seemed quiet. Nice, and quiet, and peaceful. Nothing to warrant the attention of anyone from outside.

If this was true, this might just be the most boring town in all of California. If not, then someone had been very thorough at making sure it appeared that way.

Finally, the time was right to make the call, and the details were brusquely passed on to the coterie. They were to meet at Carson Park at 2 am. As they looked to each other, they all hoped that they would be the ones setting the ambush...

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