“I killed you, I brought you back, and I can do it again.”
Sunday afternoon, 6 September 2015
GM: Caroline abruptly starts from her slumber. Her body is numb with pain, as if it’s being pinpricked with a hundred needles. Some instinct screams to flail, but her arms won’t move. Then she feels blood shooting through her arteries, her paralyzed limbs tingling and growing flush. It feels like a heart attack in reverse.
She is still in the closet, swaddled in blankets. She hears footsteps tromping around beyond the door.
Caroline: Who the hell is in her room? Staff ignoring the ‘do not disturb’ on the door? Someone else? She listens closely, even as she reaches out in the darkness for her purse, drawing her neat little 9mm.
This really isn’t how she wants to start her night, but she’ll be damned if she’s going to be a victim again.
GM: Straining her ears, Caroline concludes there is only one intruder in her hotel room.
Caroline: She waits for the steps to move further away, perhaps out of the room. Bag in hand, hand on firearm, firearm in bag, she pushes the closet door open with one foot.
GM: The footsteps recede after several moments, tromping off into the suite’s other room. Caroline gets the door open, painfully conscious of the loud creak. The intruder hasn’t turned on the lights and it’s nearly pitch dark with the room’s shades drawn. Caroline feels distinctly uncomfortable, as if she were sticking her foot into a heated room with the windows closed during summer time. She wouldn’t go so far as to describe the room as ransacked, but someone has obviously been moving things around.
Caroline: Something’s wrong. Several somethings. No phone, can’t even check the time. She resists the urge to curse. She slides back against the wall of the closet instead, waiting to see if they come to investigate the creak.
GM: Caroline does not have long to wait. Foosteps sound again. Then a sharp, quick creak, as the door jerks open. The room’s lights flip on. The man in front of her is tall, thick-necked, and wide-shouldered. His bald head and mirrored shades only further add to his imposing appearance.
Caroline recognizes him. He’s part of her Uncle Orson’s personal security detail, outside the supervision of Roger Ferris. Ex-FBI. Nominally to provide personal protection, much like Alphonse is nominally just a driver. In practice, also a ‘problem solver’ for other issues the archbishop wishes quietly taken care of.
“There you are,” he growls. His voice is low and thick, like a pit bull’s.
Caroline: Caroline stares at him, putting on her best blank stare.
“Here I am. And there you are, in my room. Can I ask to what I owe the pleasure?”
GM: “You got your uncle real antsy over that disappearing act you pulled last night, kid.”
Caroline: “What disappearing act?”
GM: “You’re coming with me,” the ex-FBI agent states without answering Caroline’s question.
Caroline: She snaps to laser focus. “Someone has a high opinion of themselves.” Her tone has completely changed. This is not the sweet college student, or the conversational young lady. This is her ’I’m better than you voice.’ The voice you use on a disobedient child or disrespectful subordinate. It’s cold and hard.
“What time is it anyway?”
GM: “Two o’clock,” the man answers. Yet for all the menace of Caroline’s voice, she cannot help but recall the man is her uncle’s man as he reaches into the closet to grab her arm.
Caroline: She tries to jerk away from his grab. “Fuck off.” The profanity must seem so bizarre coming out of her mouth to him.
“What are you thinking? You’ll drag me out of here kicking and screaming like a child? That’ll go over well when I scream for help in the lobby, you creep. I’m sure Uncle Orson wants a scene.”
GM: The man growls as he fumbles after Caroline. “The archbishop wants you home, kid. You can walk out. I can drag you out. You’re coming out.”
Caroline: “Or you can treat me like a Malveaux and carry word back to Uncle Orson that I’ll stop by to speak with him this evening. And remember that while he’s the archbishop to you, the man who cuts your checks, he’s ‘uncle’ to me, and I’m the oldest niece.”
GM: The ex-FBI agent brusquely grabs Caroline by her arm.
Caroline: Fear instinctively flashes through Caroline. Twice in the last day she’s been manhandled by a larger and stronger man. She twists against him, trying to fight against his hold. Her bag falls away as the two wrestle.
GM: Caroline finds the big man’s grip quite implacable now that he’s gotten hold of her. He roughly pulls the Malveaux heiress to her feet and out of the closet. The room’s stifling heat is only worse outside. It’s like baking in an oven. Caroline finds her eyes instinctively darting to the light peeking through the edge of the room’s curtains.
Caroline: She loses control. It just completely slips away in a heartbeat. Soddenly, it is very, very dangerous for the man to be pulling her towards him.
Teeth flash. She goes for the throat, suddenly a predator rather than victim. This bag of blood thinks it can control her? It thinks it can lay hands on her?
GM: Caroline’s savage action takes the ex-FBI agent, who is clearly expecting only a disobedient college girl to deal with, completely by surprise. Her teeth sink into his neck with two sharp punctures. Shouts distantly sound. Meaty fists distantly beat against her back. She feels none of it. She feels only the hot blood on her tongue, the fire shooting through her veins and filling her up.
Caroline: His fists are nothing. His shouts are nothing. There is only the blood. One doesn’t stalk prey for the fun or the beauty of the victim. It’s for the reward. The payoff. Her fangs rip his neck open further, trying to get more of the blood free.
GM: Flesh audibly tears beneath the vampire’s canines, a sound strangely louder to Caroline’s ears than the man’s distant screams. Red flies everywhere as she rips and gnaws her prey like a wild dog. Her ecstasy is rudely interrupted when she feels something hard slam against her chest, throwing her off the man. She stumbles backwards and distantly registers him drawing a suppressor-tipped handgun. He levels it at her chest with shaking fingers and pulls the trigger. To the horrified and horrifically injured man’s credit, the shot hits its mark—let it not be said Caroline’s family skimps on the help.
The vampire barely registers the lethal projectile’s impact.
Caroline: He missed? Caroline wouldn’t have time to think about it even if she were herself. He tried to shoot her! She leaps on him in a rage, a blind frenzy…
GM: The bleeding man squeezes off another shot as Caroline lunges at him. His aim is high. It clips the side of her head. That shot really, really hurts. Blood spatters the carpet, no longer just his.
The man pistol-whips Caroline with the barrel, sending her crashing to the floor in an unceremonious heap. He’s barely standing, after how what she did to his neck. His white dress shirt is soaked in red. He hesitates for a second, as if deciding whether to flee or finish her off, then gambles on the latter.
It’s a gambit poorly made. The new slug in Caroline’s gut only hurts about as much as getting punched.
Caroline: Rage. Fury. Fear. Fury mostly. She springs to her feet and closes the distance against him even as her unholy body repairs itself. It’s a strange thing to survive being shot in the head—or would be if she was thinking rationally.
GM: Caroline all but flies towards her adversary, slamming him back-first against the wall. He might a stronger and larger-framed man than her, but he’s barely standing, and Caroline is fighting for so much more than just survival. She’s fighting to get her fix.
The ex-FBI agent doesn’t even have time to scream before she goes for the throat. On quick, grisly tear, and the big man goes down with a heavy thud, his gun slipping from limp fingers. Red freely flows from the second smile on his neck. Caroline laps it up with feverish glee.
Caroline: Caroline looks down at the man, fighting with the Beast inside her. There’s a bit of terror still there, directed at herself. What is she?
Still, her eyes are drawn to the blood flowing from the man’s wounds. It’s like an addict staring at their fix. It is an addict staring at their fix. Her medical training says he’s going to bleed out on the bedroom floor. She’s not actually a doctor, she never took the Hippocratic oath, but part of that is wrong.
On the other hand… she wants it. She wants to literally suck what life is left in him away.
GM: Caroline’s victim stares up at her dumbly. One of the lenses on his mirrored shades has been smashed in and a closed eye can be seeing poking through. His chest feebly rises and falls. His face is white as a sheet. His neck is an angry red mass of gashes and shredded muscle tissue. Blood freely pools over the hotel room’s carpeting, the coppery odor like fillet mignon to Caroline’s nose. Animal want tugs at her unbeating heart. She could take just a little.
The hotel room’s stifling heat is no more comfortable than it was a minute ago. In fact, it feels even hotter. Caroline isn’t sweating, but she can see the skin of her knuckles turning dry and flaky, as if she’s stuck them in warm sand on an already feverishly hot day.
Caroline: Caroline stares at the blood for a long moment before finally snapping out of it. She grabs her uncle’s man by the shirt and drags him into the bathroom, closing the door behind her. She pulls her toiletry bag off the counter and digs out her first aid kit. She knows the neck wound is bad. Maybe worse than she can treat even with what she’s got. Still, she’s not going to let him die—or worse, suck him dry—without trying to save him. Whatever she might be, she’s not a killer. She’s not a monster. She digs out a packet of QuikClot as a start and gets to work.
Maybe this time she won’t half-ass it.
GM: The scene feels too much like the police station. Caroline can almost see Sarah’s face staring up at her from the man’s remaining mirrored shade. Sarah, who there’s still no good news about. Sarah, who might be awake if the almost-med student had only worked her first.
But this time, Caroline knows beyond a shadow of a doubt: it will be her fault if this man dies. Carson won’t give her any comforting assurances about how it’s not. He won’t tell her it was another monster’s fault. The monster responsible is right here in the room.
But at least this monster is trying to save her victim.
Caroline liberally applies the hemostatic dressing to stop the man’s bleeding. There’s no foreign object to worry about. All she has to do is apply pressure and follow Dr. Crawford’s advice: “Pack gauze into the wound and keep packing gauze into the wound until no more goes in. Then pack some more gauze into the wound.” Caroline packs in as much as she can, then applies firm pressure. She waits the three minutes she’s supposed to, counting off the seconds.
Her would-be abductor’s unconscious face is still white as a sheet, but he’s stopped bleeding. A lucky thing for him on more than one level… Caroline isn’t sure how long she could stare at pooling blood before losing control. The smell is already enough to leave her nerves ragged.
Still, the almost-med student knows, this man can’t lie on her bathroom floor forever. This is the point where she’s supposed to start transport, obtain IV access, and immobilize or splint the injured area if there were any broken bones. Those might not be a concern, but the gashes on the man’s neck are going to need stitches. Maybe even skin grafts. Definitely a blood transfusion, after how much he’s lost. He needs a hospital.
Yet Caroline can already feel herself growing weary. The tile floor looks as inviting a place to rest her head as silk sheets and a fluffy comforter.
Caroline: Caroline forces herself to fight through the fatigue. Part of her distantly wonders if this is adrenaline or if such things even apply to a dead being.
She looks down on her attacker and weighs the odds on keeping him alive until nightfall. Not good… and there isn’t exactly anyone she can call about this, what with the blood splattered across the other room, and her own wounds…
She runs a hand over those injuries, and their exits, while she thinks. Even as she does so, they begin to close at her attention. She has to stop herself from gaping. It’s such a bizarre feeling…
GM: A second later, Caroline’s pale skin is whole and hale, with only dried blood and holes in her clothing to mark that she was ever injured. A faint tink pulls at her ears. She looks down and sees a flattened, red-smeared bullet lying at her foot on the tile.
Caroline: She pockets it for now—a bizarre souvenir—and contemplates her position. She can’t call for help. Roger Ferris and his people would clean up the blood on the walls, and everything else, but they’d have questions she couldn’t answer. So would her uncles, after they reported back.
The man is unlikely to make it until nightfall. That’s too many hours away.
She weighs her options—none—and lets her mind float through possibility and legend. Could she help him in some way? Her blood has already demonstrated abnormal healing properties. There’s no harm in trying.
Or little enough, for a dying man.
She draws out one of the razors from her medical kit and makes an incision along the side of her hand between the pinkie and wrist. It’s a nonthreatening wound. (Is there such a thing as a truly threatening one to her now?) She opens the unconscious man’s mouth, hangs her wrist over it, and lets the beginnings of blood flow.
GM: Soul-deep weariness tugs at the night-old vampire. She can instinctively this is not her kind’s time, but she ignores the fatigue and soldiers through.
Red drips over the man’s tongue. A few drops stain his teeth. He gives no response. Caroline wonders if pop culture was simply wrong.
The transformation is almost startling in its abruptness when jerks upright, seizes Caroline’s wrist with a vice-like grip, and clamps it to his mouth. Moanful shudders course through him as he ravenously sucks from the vein like a babe at its mother’s teat.
Caroline: She tries to rip her hand away from him, backpedaling.
GM: The man barely seems to even register his injuries. He’s clamped onto Caroline’s wrist for literally dear life. He moans like a bull in heat as he greedily sucks down the healing ambrosia.
Caroline: Caroline recoils as though she’s been shot—an expression with less meaning given that she’s actually been shot by the man.
GM: Caroline feels an instinctive fury well within her. This fucking meatsack would dare claim her blood for his own? He is nothing—it should be she who feasts on his!
Caroline: She finally shoves him off and retreats as far away as she can from, hiding in the corner of the bathtub.
GM: The big man groans, a sound tinged with despair as much as pain, and slowly crawls across the tiled floor on his belly towards Caroline.
“More… MORE…! You… bitch… give me… MORE…!”
Caroline: Caroline’s eyes flash with anger to match the fury of her Beast. This thug. This brute. She stares at him with burning hunger. It would be such an easy thing.
“Welcome to my hell.”
GM: “YOU FUCKING KILLED ME BITCH GIVE ME MORE!” he screams, clutching at the bathtub’s rim with blood-smeared fingers to haul himself up. The act of speech sends him into a fit, and he chokes and sputters, further blood leaking from his pale lips.
Caroline: Something within Caroline roars in protest, but she wraps it in iron chains, the same iron that fills her voice as she stands to her feet.
“That’s right. I killed you, I brought you back, and I can do it again. Adjust your tone.”
GM: The man feebly clutches at the pant leg of Caroline’s damask silk pajamas as she steps out of the tub. “I’ll… I’ll call off your uncle… just… more…”
Caroline: “That goes both ways, Mr….”
GM: He hacks weakly. “Pax… ton.”
Caroline: “Blood from blood, Mr. Paxton. I can’t give you what I don’t have.”
GM: He kneads Caroline’s pajama leg in his fist, as if by doing so he could wring further vitae from the cloth.
Caroline: “Contain yourself.” She jerks her leg out of his grasp. “You painted the bedroom with my blood. You have no one to blame but yourself.”
GM: His fingers continue to open and clasp as he hacks blood over the bathroom tiles. “You… fucking… bit me… open…”
Caroline: “And you shot me in the head. After invading my room and trying to drag me out of the hotel.”
GM: “You… were… kill me…” He hacks. “Still… are… the fuck are you…”
Caroline: “That is my problem.” She tries not to focus on the weak beating of his heart. The fight took a great deal out of her, the wounds more, and his theft… “But if I wanted to kill you, you’d have never woken up.”
GM: “More… last… chance…” he hacks deliriously, clenching his red-smeared fist.
Caroline: Caroline scoops up his discarded firearm off the sink. “Last chance? Who the fuck do you think you are? You shot me in the head and I shrugged it off. You think you can threaten me?”
It’s the hunger and that raging part of her, she realizes, the same part that can think of nothing but her next meal. All the same, she’s suddenly furious. Why bother trying to save him? a voice asks.
GM: Paxton rolls over, facing his back toward Caroline. She can see his arm move, grabbing at something in his clothes.
Caroline: She levels the firearm at him, moving to the other side of the room again. “Don’t try it.”
GM: The second seems to stretch for an eternity before Caroline sees a cellphone clatter to the tile floor.
Caroline: “Just sit the fuck down, Mr. Paxton, while I try not to rip out your throat. Come nightfall we can sort all of this out.”
Sort it out? the voice inside laughs. How are you going to sort out being a vampire and literally ripping out a man’s throat?
To say nothing of the poor girl from the night before. Two nights, three lives already changed forever.
No. Four lives, counting Sarah.
GM: Silence is Caroline’s only answer.
Caroline: “Kick it over.” The gun stays where it is.
GM: Paxton weakly jerks his foot. The phone scuffs over to several handspans away from Caroline’s feet. The name on the screen reads simply “boss.”
Caroline: She picks it up and sticks it on the counter next to him. “We’ve got some time. Why don’t you explain why my uncle was so eager to see me, and how you found me. What you meant by ‘disappearing act.’”
GM: Paxton hacks again.
“Said you’d… disappeared… from Decadence… brother Gabriel… told him… heard from… some friend… of yours… weren’t at home… calls not reaching… fuck’s sake… kid… just wants… make sure… all right…”
Caroline: Caroline nods. It does make sense. “You could have come back later.”
GM: Paxton gives a bloody snort. “He said… bring you back…”
Caroline: “Bad luck. Bad timing.”
GM: Paxton hacks again. “Won’t be… last… come in… you know what’s… good for…”
Caroline: “I’d planned on it. You’ve made it more complicated though.”
GM: The sarcasm in the ex-FBI’s agent’s voice is audible even through his coughing.
Caroline: “If I leave you here with your phone, what are you going to do?”
GM: “Call… 911…”
Yeah, Caroline realizes. Them and her uncle.
Caroline: She doesn’t bother with the pretext. “What are you going to tell him?”
GM: Paxton is silent for a moment, as if deciding whether or not to feed her further bullshit, and then simply states, “Evr… thing… get a… job… I see it… through…”
Caroline: “Including the part about you pulling the gun on me?”
GM: He hacks again. “Self d… were… gonna… kill me…”
Caroline: “I’m sure he’ll believe that. His niece bit you so badly you had to shoot her.” She raises an eyebrow. “Big strong former FBI overcome by a girl.”
GM: “He’ll find you… he’ll… see… the hell you are… freak…”
Caroline: “He’ll see what? He’ll see that his employee has lost his mind.”
GM: Paxton hacks again. The smell from his mouth, and neck, is beyond tantalizing. However improbable his claims may be, it’s plain as day that something happened to him when he went after Caroline.
“Fuck… this… kill me… or… lemme call…”
Caroline: “How about an alternative?”
GM: Paxton coughs some more.
Caroline: “You’ve seen what I can do… including put you back together. I’ll make this right, you keep quiet… the details. To everyone.”
GM: “H… how…?”
Caroline: “The same way I saved your life.”
Caroline: She nods.
GM: His mouth opens and closes. “N… now…”
GM: “F… fine… lemme… call… hosp…”
Caroline: “And tell them what?”
GM: He hacks angrily. “That I’m… dying…!”
Caroline: “You won’t die.”
GM: “You’re… crazy…”
Caroline: “But not wrong. Just…. let me fix this. Focus on something else.”
GM: “You a… doctor…?” His tone is half sarcastic.
Caroline: She smiles. “Close enough. Closer than you.”
GM: “Then patch me… up… doc…”
Caroline: “I already did. Didn’t you notice?”
GM: Paxton hacks again. After the amount of pain he’s been in, then the ecstasy of Caroline’s blood, then its deprivation, it’s possible he has not.
Caroline: “Not as good as a hospital, but you aren’t going to bleed out while we wait.”
GM: “Get… to it…”
Caroline: She smiles. “I’m getting to it faster than you think. In the hospital that wound will take weeks. Stop crying. I thought you FBI guys were supposed to be tough.”
GM: The ex-agent is still tough enough to flip her the bird.
Sunday night, 6 September 2015, PM
Caroline: Hours pass. Caroline takes advantage of his phone to check some news coverage. She gets him a cup of water from the faucet. She waits. It’s an awkward silence broken by his bloody coughs.
GM: Paxton doesn’t make any attempts at conversation. With his phone and gun in Caroline’s hands, though, it doesn’t seem there’s much the ex-FBI is willing to try. The hours crawl by.
Caroline: She does her best to keep her distance from him. Hunger gnaws at her. She knows what she needs. The only question is how she will get it. What she will do for it. Where she will go…
GM: Caroline can’t see it in the bathroom. But when it comes, she feels it like a great weight being lifted from her shoulders. As if she were inhaling a whiff of fresh air after being cooped inside a hot stuffy room all day. As if she’d just pulled an all-nighter and then swallowed a caffeine pill.
Caroline: “Get up, Mr. Paxton. Get away from the door.”
There is a predatory gleam in the her eyes, like the reflection of light on a feline’s eyes in the dark.
“Be patient. I’ll be back.”
She takes his phone, takes the firearm, and props up a chair under the doorknob when she goes to barricade the door. If he was unharmed it might be an easy thing to beat the door down, kick it in, but that’s unlikely after how savaged he is. She changes out of her bloodstained clothing and heads out.
GM: Paxton sourly moves to do as Caroline asks, though he crawls rather than gets up as he relocates himself from the door. His glare follows the newly-turned Kindred as she locks him in. Caroline finds a metal tray and lid containing the hotel’s complimentary continental breakfast as she leaves. Pastries, fruit pieces, yogurt, and coffee, the last long since gone cold, and all of the items indigestible in any case.
It’s just as well. The pastries aren’t a healthy start to the day.
The staff inquires as to the satisfaction of her stay on the way out. They ask when she would like housekeeping to service her room, as the D&D was up all day.
Caroline: She declines the cleaning and leaves the D&D on the door. She otherwise brushes off their questions. Just another too-busy rich client.
She starts her search once she’s out of the hotel. Bar. Dive. Somewhere she can find someone. Some player, frat boy, someone who wants to get her alone or take her away. She’s had hours to think about this. How she plans on doing it, what she’s looking for…
GM: Decadence may be all but over, but the city only sneers and spits at that notion. Hundreds of bodies are packed into the Bourbon Heat like sardines, writhing and undulating to pounding club music. Caroline can all but smell their lust and sweaty desperation. The pungent musk is no less prevalent at the bar, where sharply-dressed, cool-eyed human predators leisurely pick out victims from among the throngs. Other individuals stare at the dance floor with drooping eyes as they hold hands to skulls pounding from one laced drink too many. Some of the predators molest them in plain view of the crowd, while others half-lead, half-drag their prey away to bathrooms where they may satisfy appetites even this jaded public cannot countenance. Yelling, sneering, and laughing faces are ghoulishly illuminated by the pulsating blue and red lights. The entire city seems present in the club in microcosm, driven by the knowledge that it will be old one day and no longer free to indulge its appetites. Better dance, drink, and fuck its way to an early oblivion.
Caroline: It’s startling how quickly Caroline has divorced herself from the disgust such vulgarities would have elicited from her even a day ago. She feels… disconnected from all of this. It’s like watching animals breed on some level. Lewd, but not truly profane. She recognizes the predators all too clearly now… and singles out her own victim from among them. Play the victim, the lion in sheep’s clothing. Good luck to the wolf. Good hunting either way.
GM: Caroline’s victim is a brash-looking punk with frazzled, semi-spiked red-brown hair. His bare chest is draped with chains and Satanic amulets. A too-small leather jacket decorated with metal studs covers his arms and shoulders. He wears skeleton costume gloves over his hands, tight leather pants crisscrossed with safety pins, rusted nails, and black combat boots. His face looks young enough to be here and old enough to fear the day he won’t be. She can see it in his eyes, past the facade of aloof indifference. He wants to live forever, to dance and drink and fuck his life away until the end of time—yet he knows, like everyone on the dance floor, that his time is limited.
Everyone but for one damned soul, perhaps.
Caroline: The dance they dance, the game they play. The setting of the hook. Eye contact lasting a moment too long. A shy smile. A giggle. A whisper in the ear. A door slammed open. His warm lips on her cold skin. Her icy lips on his hot neck. A storage closet? It doesn’t matter. They’re alone, and she needs this so badly. A harsh kiss on his neck as his hands roam her body is joined by just a prick of teeth.
GM: Caroline’s witless victim hauls her to the club’s bathrooms. There’s a line of couples impatiently waiting outside. Moans, whimpers, and even muffled screams sound from within. No one does anything. No one cares. Caroline’s partner snarls with impatience, pulls a jagged-looking knife, and
starts shouting he’s going to “open up” anyone who doesn’t get out of their way, “like Bloody Jack.” He kicks the door open. He grabs the crying and delirious-looking girl inside and literally throws her out on her rear. The tattooed punk copulating with the girl curses profusely, looks for a moment as as if he wants to deck Caroline’s partner, but then simply yanks the girl’s hair and resumes penetrating her in full view of the crowd. She screams into his hand and weakly struggles as he pounds her ass. Effete goths snicker with amusement.
Caroline’s partner doesn’t pause to look at the scene. He pulls her into the bathroom. It’s an abomination upon cleanliness. The toilet is an overflowing cauldron of filth missing half its seat. There’s no paper on the roll except for shredded bits someone has thrown all over the floor. The brown, near-black walls are coated with foul-smelling stains and coarse-looking substances Caroline can’t identify. Graffiti reads, “Kill me,” “I’ll stop laughing once you stop screaming,” “You’re not a slut—says nobody,” “See you in hell,” “Faggot,” “I know where you live,” “Fear the end,” “I once fucked a six year old,” “Wolves know wolves,” “I once fucked my dad,” “I’m going to kill myself tomorrow,” “Good,” “You can’t hide,” “It’s coming,” and “Kill the jews.”
Caroline’s date barely registers the squalor as he shoves her against the sticky-feeling wall, hungrily exploring her mouth with his tongue. She can smell the sweat slick against his leather jacket, comingled with the odor of cigarette smoke and desperation. He roughly undoes her pants and pulls down her underwear, running his hands along her waist’s naked flesh.
Caroline: She lets out a fake cry of pleasure at his touch, attention all the while on something far different. Her teeth break skin, blood fills her mouth, and suddenly her moans of pleasure are not so faked. It’s better than sex, better than drinks. She loses herself in the feeding, loses herself in the experience.
It’s a gradual thing, like the slow climb to climax. Rather than rip and tear as before, she simply drains… and drains… and drains. It’s the longest beer bong hit of all time as the blood fills her mouth without stop. She finally forces herself to break away, to tear herself from him. He’s grown weak and she can feel his heart laboring. The flow is less steady. His body is shutting down. Still… it’s difficult. She lick around the wound even as she breaks away, desperate for that last drop.
GM: There’s nothing fake about her victim’s cries. He loses himself in sweet surrender, humping against her leg as he moans for more. If he can’t live forever, he’ll die in bliss.
As the vampire withdraws her fangs, the man slumps against the filthy, graffiti-strewn wall and sinks to the floor like a deflated balloon. He head dully smacks against the offal-crusted floor by the toilet. His face is pale as a sheet and frozen in a rictus-like grin. A low whisper escapes his smiling lips.
Caroline: She leaves him in his filth. He’s a big boy.
Caroline throws her pants and panties so they hang over the divider between stalls and pushes open the broken door of the next stall over the cursing punk as he works his ‘charm’ on his victim. She lays a hand on his shoulder, another suggestively placed between her legs. “I need you…” she whispers in his ear, trying to lure him away from the crying girl.
GM: Half the man’s face is covered in a mask of grim tattoos. Half his head is shaved, to better show off his inky designs, while the other half styled into nail-like spikes. A black steel chain set with a padlock is clamped around his neck. He wears a red bandanna, further chainlinks over his denim jacket, and lapel pins depicting grinning human skulls.
His victim is a short, spiky-haired girl whose lips and cheeks are covered with metal studs. She wears a similar torn black denim jacket to her assailant’s and a low-cut top with some band names Caroline can’t make out. Tattoos crisscross her arms. A spiked dog collar hangs around her neck.
The next couple all but shoves Caroline aside in their haste to enter the now-open stall. A second couple fights them to get in. That lasts a moment before they seem to give up on any pretensions of modesty and head in together.
Onlookers roar at the vampire’s lewd proposition. Some call her a whore or slut. Others leer and whistle. Several try to grab her. Caroline’s next victim punches one in the nose, sending him staggering back as blood sprays from his face, and then punches his own victim in the throat. She gags over the stained floor. People descend on her, but Caroline can’t see what happens next as the tattoo-faced man pulls her into the next stall. Coarse hands start hungrily fondling her breasts.
Caroline: She encourages him, drawing him in. What is carnality when there is blood? She pulls him close, whispers, licks, kisses, encourages. She buries her face in collar as he tries to penetrate her. Again, there’s little flash of teeth. It’s even easier this time.
GM: There’s soon more blissful punctures. The man is soon a quivering mass of flesh-putty in Caroline’s grasp, moaning and panting for more with flushed cheeks. His crotch bulges before a wet stain appears. Caroline leaves him on the filth-crusted floor in an unconscious heap, her inner monster purring with satiation.
Caroline: Caroline rides that pleasure once again, rides the thundering beat of his heart. Once again, she draws back only when she feels the heart start to weaken. Once again, it takes strength to pull away… but not as much as last time. She licks the wounds closed, having observed the effect on the first victim. A helpful trick.
GM: The girl bursts into the stall, now topless and missing her shirt and jacket. At the sight of her violator’s still form, she falls on her hands and knees, desperately shaking him to stir, to wake up. She looks up at Caroline through teary eyes and shrieks profanity at her.
Caroline: Caroline turns on the girl, pulling her up and out of the stall’s worst filth. She maneuvers behind the girl as she moves to help her out. There’s that kiss again, that soft touch, that flash of teeth.
GM: The girl tries to swat off Caroline at first, then kicks and bites when her newest assailant doesn’t relent. But she succumbs to the ecstasy of the vampire’s kiss no less swiftly than the two men before her. She moans like an animal in heat as she grinds against Caroline’s leg and gnaws her ear. When the vampire finally withdraws, she grabs the other woman and hoarsely screams, “Kill me! FUCKING KILL ME!”
Caroline: Caroline smiles, utterly satisfied at last. She leaves the raving girl in the bathroom with her rapist and his brother in arms. She’s lost too much time already. She has an appointment to make.
Sunday night, 6 September 2015, PM
GM: It’s several hours later by the time Caroline returns from Bourbon Street to her hotel room. Paxton’s phone has rung several times throughout the night, and rings again as Caroline parks her car. The caller ID reads “boss.”
Caroline: She passes on the calls for now. They need to get their story straight.
GM: Caroline swipes the key card to her room door. The bathroom door has been forced open. Paxton lies face-down on his stomach in the middle of the bedroom suite. The carpet is stained underneath his stomach. The stain is very large and very red.
Caroline: “You idiot.” She glares down at the unconscious man before recovering the razor from earlier. There’s another slice. More blood trickles into his mouth. The entire operation is…. businesslike.
GM: Paxton does not respond to the blood. His face is appallingly absent of color. He looks horrible. Caroline can barely feel a pulse from his meaty neck. When the blood finally takes, he looks for all the world as if he’s having a heart attack. He gives a great, wheezing gasp and falls upon the vampire’s wrist like a starving man presented with a banquet.
Caroline: She lets him drink for a long time—far longer than last time—but when she draws away, it is just as forcefully. She is giving him a gift, not submitting to some demand.
GM: As before, Paxton does not relinquish Caroline’s wrist, but forcing the badly wounded man off proves child’s play for the sated vampire. The ex-Bureau agent moans with despair as his fix withdraws.
“M… m… more…”
Caroline: “Why?” She looks down on him with scorn.
GM: “F… u… you…” His shirt is so stained one would think it was dyed red.
Caroline: “I told you to wait.”
GM: The man stares at her. He doesn’t look all the way there.
Caroline: “Twice you’ve ignored me. Both times you nearly ended up dead. Do you begin to see a connection?”
GM: He spits blood at Caroline’s feet.
“Y… re… sick… f… ing… freak… monst…”
Caroline: “That’s right, I’m a monster, and you’re sucking at my wrist like a child on a teat. What does that make you?”
GM: “Th… s… hell…” the pale man wheezes. “K… ll me… or… ge… me out… no… more… th…”
Caroline: “No more?” She waves her wrist in front of his face. “You don’t want any more of this?”
GM: “F… ing… SICK!” he spits, blood trickling down his chin. He hasn’t cleaned himself. The skin is already crusted over with coppery-smelling red. The new trickle resembles nothing so much as a volcano oozing over a previous eruption site.
The man’s chest heaves as he begins to crawl away from Caroline on his hands and knees. Towards the room door.
Caroline: “Mr. Paxton…” the heiress murmurs more quietly.
GM: Her uncle’s man doesn’t turn back.
Caroline: “I want to thank you.”
GM: His red-smeared hands shakily clasp the doorknob.
Caroline: “You’ve taught me a great deal about what it is… to be what I am.”
She leaps upon him before he can move any further.
GM: Slamming the barely-alive man to the ground is child’s play. His moan is so low it’s almost impossible to hear. One savage tear of her fangs, and Paxton’s head hits the carpeted floor with a muffled thud.
Caroline: Blood flows as she latches onto him, sucking the life from his reopened wound. A valuable lesson.
They’ll never accept you if you don’t respect and fear you.
Nine hours ago, she was trying to save his life. Minutes ago she still was… but she is no girl anymore. Not even the heiress. This man is no kin to her. He’s a tool, and a broken one.
GM: Caroline drinks deeply. She drinks from him like a hummingbird from a flower, until he is completely emptied and she is swollen flush with stolen life.
Paxton does not scream. He does not protest. He does not struggle. His blank eyes stare dumbly at the ceiling.
Caroline: The slow beating of his heart grows slower still. There is no good answer here. Only a necessary one. He’ll never do what she wishes. She can’t save him from himself.
GM: The dead man’s phone buzzes again from her pocket.
Caroline: She leaves the phone be, drags the body into the bathroom, and hauls it into the bathtub. A dozen trips to the ice maker on the floor later, and she’s buried him. Anything to keep the smell down until she can figure out what to do with the corpse. She leaves the D&D on the door as she slips out again, past the smiling and tiled lobby, and back into the night.
She’s full, flush with life and strength. The life blood pumping through her veins almost makes her feel normal, until she thinks about how she got it. Her victims. Poor Mr. Paxton, dead in a hotel bathtub. She’s a murderer.
She shakes the thought away and makes her way back towards her home. It’s too late to get a phone. She’ll have someone arrange it. She needs to touch base, see if she can cool down her family’s hunt. No more hounds busting in on her in her sleep.
For their sake, and hers.
Sunday night, 6 September 2015, PM
GM: Caroline drives home without any undue difficulties. The Blackwatch mercenaries boredly wave her through Audubon Place’s gated perimeter when they see her ID. “That wasn’t so fucking hard, was it?” asks Hall before Johnson snaps at her to shut up. The leashed attack dogs are impotent in their snarling fury against the safety of a car window.
Caesar’s reception is only marginally friendlier. The mastiff growls low, ears flat against his head, and does not once take his eyes off his owner. Caroline finds little else changed in her home, save for several further messages on the landline phone. Aimee, Gabriel, and Carson have left numerous worried calls, expressing their hopes that nothing bad has happened, and pleading (more hoping in the last’s case) for her to call them back.
Her uncle Orson has also left a single message of his own. “We will find you, Caroline. No matter how long it takes.”
Caroline: She frowns. Of course that’s what he’d say. Orson has always been controlling to an extreme. She’s certain he’s furious about the Southern Decadence matter as a whole.
She gets up and pours some food into a bowl for Caesar before leaving him downstairs alone. She punches up Aimee’s cell on the landline and hits dial.
GM: The phone rings only once before it’s answered.
“Hello, Caroline,” her uncle’s voice sounds calmly.
Caroline: “Uncle Orson. I could have sworn that I dialed Aimee’s number.” Her tone is friendly enough.
GM: “You did, niece. I thought you might.”
Caroline: “Two birds with one stone, then. You were my next call.”
GM: “It’s been some time since your last visit, Caroline. I trust that you remember my address.”
Caroline: “A girl should always know how to find her way home.”
GM: “You have fifteen minutes.” The line clicks off.
Caroline: It’s a mark of good breeding that she doesn’t chuck the phone across the room. Instead she gathers her bag and heads out the door. Of course he’d have to be a prick about it.
Caroline doesn’t drive often—in fact, she took a cab home—but that doesn’t mean her family hasn’t provided for the need. The 2013 Aston Martin DB9 is a bit ostentatious for her tastes, but it was a gift from her uncle—the non-terrible one. Even as a hand-me-down (he upgrades his model every year, though he rarely drives), it was an extravagant gift. Not that she doesn’t appreciate the precision engineering right now.
She pauses to dismantle Mr. Paxton’s phone for now, hiding it in a ziploc bag under a stone in her landscaping. The car door slams. Tires scratch. In total, she’s on the road within three minutes.
As she drives, Caroline has a moment to think on how quickly events have been moving. Less than 24 hours ago everything seemed so simple…
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Pete Feedback Repost
I think I owe you two weeks.
Talk about getting thrown into the deep-end. Newborn vamp gets her room invaded by a dangerous armed man during the day? Youch. Still, it created a fun and challenging encounter, and gave me a good intro to combat. I was surprised at how brutal the critical fail was (3 lethal? Wow!). Overall a pretty fun learning experience, and definitely threw my plans for a loop. Should have asked for a check to negotiate with him before combat started though, and would in the future. Overall you threw some really big wrinkles into my plans, but fun ones. I’m continuing to get more comfortable with the system, though I don’t anticipate a lot of combat going forward. Really a tenuous position though with very low vita left relative to wounds and such, and the possibility of someone bursting in to investigate gunshots is… troubling. Hope she stays awake?
Well, that was interesting. I’m not sure if I super love the nature of the feeding mechanics. While I appreciate the simplification it provides, that it doesn’t neatly allow for hopping onto other targets of opportunity provided is a bit bothersome to me. Not the end of the world, but I thought I’d mention it because it really stood out as hard lining amid an otherwise largely freeform system. I suppose you could argue it just simplifies what would have otherwise been checks to convince home-boy facial-tattoo to go along.
The penalty on subsequent checks struck me as odd, and I didn’t see it in a cursory glance at the rules. Can you give me some more insight on the purpose / planning behind that? Just doesn’t make that much sense to me in a large city. Maybe in Podunk where there is a very limited supply of victims.
Felt the feeding setup though sets a pretty good MO for her going forward (though perhaps not leaving two people drained).
Said when she came back to Paxton being an idiot and nearly dead, but I suppose failures have to have consequences. He went out in a bad way. Still, while I might have liked having him hang around, he served a purpose or three in his life and death.
Her uncle’s call was pretty menacing. I’ll be interested to see where this goes. Have to figure Caroline feels pretty invincible right now with full vita for the first time and knowledge that gunshots aren’t exactly fatal. Biggest danger in her mind going forward has to do with finding a good explanation for this. I’ve got a running thread going that involves some anticipation / planning, but I’d rather see where this goes in the initial before committing to it. Overall fun stuff.
Really enjoy the Beats XP system, which hands them out relatively liberally and ensures that every scene can have some degree of meaning, since beats are independent of “experience points” or other similar systems. Question though, how much Experience can you “sit” on? Do you have a more formal protocol for spending it (e.g. you need downtime, etc)? Anything special I should know?
Also, would it be inappropriate to ask for a Willpower refund for feasting until full in the bathroom, in keeping with her Mask, or has that ship sailed?
Calder Feedback Repost
I felt Paxton was a good introduction to the game’s combat system for you, both in how the rules themselves work and how beings within the World of Darkness fight each other. All of Paxton’s combat-related dice pools were higher than Caroline’s, but he wasn’t expecting a fight with her. The fact he could only deal bashing damage and you could deal lethal meant, effectively, you had double Health, all before vampiric healing powers. The surprise round and benefits of frenzy (+1 to all rolls, grapple and damage in the same action) also didn’t help Paxton out. A dedicated vampire hunter using a sword (or who simply tore off the room’s curtains) could have made quick work of Caroline in the same situation, even if he had identical stats to Paxton. The game’s combat system is less complex than PF’s, but tactics still go a long way. Paxton’s tactics against Caroline were objectively bad (if through no fault of his own, he wasn’t a vampire hunter) and they cost him the fight.
Regarding feeding scenes, one thing to bear in mind is that they can be handled two different ways:
The first is organically via in-game events. For example, Paxton. He showed up in your room, circumstances made it convenient for you to feed on him, so you did so. We used full game mechanics there.
The second is compressed into hunting scenes. You roll your dice pool, and if you succeed, you get 2-7 Vitae from a willing victim (exact amount depending on how badly you’re willing to hurt them). If the GM describes other victims being present, they’re window dressing: an hour-long hunting roll netting 2-7 Vitae is just how the system works. Of course, one can also feed on those victims during the same scene with another hunting roll, and external circumstances will result in another hour going by. I was pretty satisfied with our solution there, as it preserved the game’s mechanics but still made sense narratively. We might also try using a houserule next session where a hunting roll simply gives 1 Vitae per success rolled, spread across as few or as many victims as the player describes, and the player can choose to net further Vitae by making a Humanity roll (to represent killing a victim or committing other immoral acts in order to feed more fully).
Vitae is the game’s main resource mechanic, so the penalty on successive rolls is there to put a little heat on PCs and ensure they can’t simply go off hunting whenever they run low on blood—or at least, that doing so will provide diminished returns. It’s also meant to represent how if characters continue to feed in the same area, hunting becomes more difficult (e.g., picking up two girls in the same nightclub is harder than picking up one), or how if they relocate somewhere else, doing so is a minor impediment to their game.
What would Caroline have done with Paxton if he’d done as told and stayed in the bathroom?
I’m glad you’re enjoying the XP system. Giving players a regular stream of XP they can immediately spend on stuff is a lot more satisfying than leveling up a couple times per adventure.
Protocols for spending XP are addressed in the new wiki page you inspired me to create. So far as sitting on unspent XP, I don’t make too big a deal beyond requiring that it be spent by the next downtime interval. Caroline’s starting 4 Merit dots, though, I will mandate allocating by the time she knowingly first meets other Kindred (well, other than Rene).
Feedback is a more than okay time to ask about regaining Willpower (as it’s meant for reflection of in-game events), but in this instance, the bathroom-feasting doesn’t net any. Your Mask is how you interact with mortals in a mortal capacity, and feeding is a Kindred activity (i.e., falls under Dirge instead).
Oh, and add 2 Beats to your sheet for 2 weeks of feedback.
Pete Feedback Repost
Caroline’s tentative plan with Paxton was to heal him up and then use him to get her uncle off her. E.g., he calls in, says he found her goofing off in some way (with a boy maybe), and they go in together that night to meet with him. Thereafter she didn’t have any plans (though I had a hope of ghouling him given that he was a big scary man).