Campaign of the Month: October 2017
Blood & Bourbon
7th Ward Thin-Bloods
“Quote about stuff.”
—Guy who Said It
“If you mean can it trace her sire, thin-bloods’ vitae is notoriously useless at that. The ties that bind us, sire to childe, don’t exist with them.”
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A lot of licks aren’t in the business of eating from the already dead. They might do it in a pinch, sure, but it’s not the sort of thing that they get off on, and those who do favor the cold or bagged shit are usually too weak, too powerless, or too unsavory to get it any other way. Or, fuck, maybe they just have a morality issue and don’t want to feed on someone that isn’t willing, but that’s a Masquerade breach waiting to happen so they get what they can from the dead bodies.
Scavengers. That’s what they call them. Not quite parasites—no, those are the real licks, aren’t they?—just the dregs that go after the already dead because why let a good thing go to waste? Plenty of animals like them out in the wild, why not in polite society too?
Maybe that makes them better than those who drain the living. Doing their part to reduce, reuse, recycle. That’s something they can get off to, right? Moral high ground.
Maybe that’s how they comfort themselves when their teeth sink into plastic instead of flesh.
Unlike most Caitiff, Royce knew who his sire was. He even knew his lineage, but that was about all he had time to learn before his sire, a former Hound of Jacmel who fled Haiti after the 2010 earthquake, met her final death. He only had a few nights with his sire—who had lost her own sire and one of her childer in the earthquake—when the war came to their door.
Royce didn’t know enough about licks to hold his own against him, so Calixte told him to “get down” while she handled the threat. Only she didn’t handle the threat. The threat handled her, and Royce didn’t even have the proper knowledge of who was who to know who took her out.
Maybe it’s for the best, though. She kept pushing “the Voodoo” on him and Royce was a right and proper Baptist and would never see eye-to-eye with her no matter how many times she told him that they were descended from Baron Samedi himself.
Even such an established and vaunted pedigree doesn’t mean much when the blood doesn’t hold up: Royce was Caitiff, which meant any claim he had to his clan and lineage and all the names his sire made him memorize wouldn’t matter. His blood was too weak to carry on the line and, this far removed from the original vampire, he’d never sire true-blooded progeny. He’s the end of the road.
Royce might have met a grisly fate, too, if he’d been discovered by any of the less-understanding licks in the city, but his first encounter was with a dumpster-diving piece of trash like him who was more than happy to “show him the ropes” for “a favor owed.” The trash in question was an ugly fellow with ears half again as large as they should be and a face that might even make his mother cry, but Royce was glad that he wasn’t alone. He agreed to the favor and got a layout of the land: what he was, what the others were, the major players and the rules. Things to look out for, like that scary fuck with the dead eyes, and that bitch with more fur than hair, and “any of the other ugly ones, ’cause they gonna sniff you out and sell you out like that.”
The trash—Eddy, or at least that’s what he went by now—called in his favor right after he finished explaining. Turned out the reason he’d been dumpster diving was to distribute the parts of his most recent meal and was scattering them across a large enough area that maybe no one would notice.
“Took a bit too much,” he told Royce with a crooked smile that showed off the rather pointy teeth in his mouth that, frankly, reminded Royce of a rat. Royce was a little perturbed to notice the bits of flesh still clinging to those teeth, but the job itself that Eddy had for him was simple: help him hide the body.
Lucky turn of fate for both Eddy and Royce that night, since Royce was a fifth-generation funeral home operator, so he and Eddy gathered the garbage bags of body parts and took them to the basement of the home and threw the lot of it inside the crematorium. Some part of him didn’t like the heat he felt coming out of the machine, but he certainly didn’t need to flee like someone closer to the OG vamp might.
So began the beautiful partnership between Eddy and Royce.
Access to a funeral home was a boon for the Caitiff. Not only was it a convenient place to get rid of “oopsies,” there were plenty of people who brought in dead bodies ripe for harvest and paid them for the privilege of eating. The two could have gotten fat and happy on the dead blood on their own, but one night they got caught up in what looked like a bit of a war in the ward. Not that fighting in the ward was new—Royce had seen his fair share of gang fights and recalled the one that took out his sire—but this time the participants were already dead. The pair hid in the shadows while the real vampires did the fighting.
“Turf war,” Eddy told him. “Mambos and pretenders.”
They hid. They watched. And they planned.
Each of them claims credit for the idea, but in the end it doesn’t matter who came up with it: they settled on growing their operation and making something of themselves in the ward. More help means more bodies, a wider range of influence, and more spoils for all. They’d still be scavengers, sure, but they’d be the kind who get delivery rather than fighting and scrounging for every meal.
The First Childe
It started with the practical: a chief of security. Royce wasn’t much of a fighter and Eddy preferred knifing someone in the back rather than the chest, so they found a hulking brute of a guy and coerced him to their side. Which really means that they knocked him out, dragged him back to the funeral home, and figured out how to pour enough of their blood down his throat to make him turn into one of them once they killed him.
Hulk wasn’t happy about the turn of events. Turned out he had a family with a little girl at home and he wasn’t planning on leaving them. He might have swung on Eddy and Royce and left them for dead (real dead, not the pretend dead), but that’s when Eddy dropped the bomb that he knew exactly where Hulk’s family was and the color of his little girl’s bedsheets and does he really think that they’d have brought him here without assurances?
Well that just pissed off Hulk even more than he was before, then Eddy pulled out his phone and made a call and asked Hulk which of them he should have butchered first, and a sniggering voice on the other end said that the older woman “certainly looks like she could use a good hard fuck before she dies.”
There was some more back and forth after that, but Hulk didn’t see much of an option other than to fall into line.
Perfect mark, too. His wife was a nurse at Oschner, and that gave Eddy and Royce the idea to go even bigger with their plans. Hulk brought her to Royce so she could get the Embrace, too, and all she said was that she didn’t want her kid to be hurt or turned or “whatever you’re doing, she stays out of it.”
“Sure, sure,” Eddy reassured her.
And the kid did stay out of it. Only, well, she was young enough to mold into the perfect specimen for them, and maybe Eddy had a bit of a thing for those cute little cheeks of hers, and maybe he spent a bit more time with her than he probably should have. But nobody knew, that’s what mattered. He just started grooming her young, and he liked that she liked his “bat ears.”
But that’s a future story.
The Child & The Haven
There are only a few rules within the family: respect the dead, cover your ass, and don’t get caught. The fourth is unwritten, but it’s respected just as much as the other three: don’t touch Sunshine. Anyone who does, well, there isn’t much of them to be found when they’re done.
There aren’t a lot of licks that keep their families. Hard to do, right, since you’re lying to them the whole time about who and what you are and the excuses for not eating and not being around during the day get thinner and thinner. Plus that whole no aging thing. Easier when you’re a thin-blood. Sure, you still don’t age, but you’re only kind of a little bit tired during the day instead of forced into the death-state of daysleep, and you can scarf down food if you want. Might even still taste good.
But what are those conveniences to simply telling the truth?
Hulk and Nurse had it easier than most. They were both convenient for Royce and Eddy to bring onto the team, so they each got a draught of vitae and got to honor whatever “’til death” vows they made at the altar. Anything past that is a bonus, right?
Things got a little more complicated with the kid.
Not the greatest idea to turn a child—just look at that hellion squatting in the Quarter, Eddy pointed out—since they kind of just stop developing. And while there are some things kids can do that adults can’t, they’re mostly… well, they’re mostly just in the way. Of course no one wanted to kill the kid to free up Hulk and Nurse since they still had some affection for the little thing, and once Royce and Eddy met her they took a shining to her as well. Couldn’t really send her to school on her own, and she was a little young to take care of herself, so the four of them thought maybe they should just get a haven together so they could keep an eye on her. They sold some things and splurged on the duplex next door to the funeral home after Eddy started “haunting” it at night to drive the tenants out and secure a good price with the owner, who was either superstitious enough to think the ghosts were “spreading” from the Quarter or susceptive enough to the supernatural mien that he was happy to see the last of the building.
“What a steal,” Eddy crowed when they finalized the purchase.
A few additions, a a handful walls knocked down, a couple of extras… it all came together nicely, and they liked having a place of their own with others like them. Strength in numbers and all that.
So Sunshine grew up in a house with a bunch of vampires, and that was… well, that’s a longer story, isn’t it.
Royce became the de facto face of their little krewe and the four of them ended up working together quite well. Nurse had some contacts in the medical examiner’s office and knew a politician that was looking to generate some “goodwill” in the poverty-stricken areas of the city by putting in a free clinic, so she put a little bit of weight behind that and said the right things to the right people and ended up as a bit of an overseer. Their operation got a bit bigger when they used Nurse’s contact in the ME’s office to find a suitable candidate for Embrace, and that guy knew a forensic science tech that was pretty terrified of the idea of death, and things just kind of rolled on from there. Some thin-bloods heard what they were doing or found them on their own and brought their own special brand of assistance (like the pastor who started directing grieving families to the funeral home in exchange for some of the cut), and others were hand-selected for their unique talents or connections.
More to come.
The Krewe & The Coup
Trouble came for them eventually. How could it not? Royce and Eddy had claimed a slice of turf right in the middle of the Seventh Ward, where the fighting between Savoy‘s people and the Baron is strongest. Even civilians in war zones face casualties, and the funeral home wasn’t the exception—even if it did provide a convenient place to get rid of the dead.
That’s how the Krewe found them. The licks who clean up after Masquerade breaches, the ones who make sure that no one ever knows what’s really going on, or that the “gang wars” that so frequently tear apart the neighborhoods is between vampires instead of humans. One of the masked cleaners happened upon them while they were making off with corpses from a recent scuffle and, intrigued, followed them back to their lair to see what exactly they were doing.
Genius setup, really: they separate the licks from the humans, drain them all dry, burn the licks, and reach out to contact the families of the dead. Most of the folk around here are poor and uneducated and don’t know any better when a well-spoken guy from a funeral home calls to tell them that they best come down to claim the remains, then eases them into a sales pitch about caskets and urns and a plot in the cemetery and honoring their loved ones in the best possible way so that their afterlife is blessed by God. Payment plans? Why of course they take payment plans, nobody expects this sort of tragedy, they’ve even got a guy to process that on staff that will be happy to take their information down, they just tack on a little bit of interest in the plan because the home has to cover all the costs up front. You understand, right?
And licks with families? Oh, what a score for the funeral home. Eddy and Royce had no problem extorting ignorant cleaver families with the price of their services: they knew that the bodies needed to be burned, so they jacked up the price of embalming and burial and caskets until cremation was the only affordable option. They packed the ashes into pretty glass or ceramic urns and added the family to their ever-expanding list of “donors.” After all, they were already used to having their blood drained on the regular.
Imagine their surprise when the masked leader of the krewe himself came by for a visit. He’s not one to speak clearly—lunatic and all—but he made sure that Royce and Eddy understood what they were getting into, even gifted them a hand-me-down so they could follow the proper procedure as a “satellite office” of the Krewe of Janus. Eddy didn’t love the idea of being under someone’s thumb—that’s why he came out here to No Man’s Land—but even he couldn’t deny the usefulness of having a bit of backup and “cover” when it came to the Guard de Ville and scourge cracking down on them. The krewe connection didn’t protect them, not fully, but so long as they kept their noses clean the krewe would discretely guide the Guard and scourge toward other targets.
Of course the Krewe of Janus was only willing to do so much when Royce and Eddy overextended with the amount of thin-bloods, ghouls, and “pawns” they suborned to their will. They rose too high too fast and, like Icarus, their wax wings melted from the heat of the sun.
After all, thin-bloods aren’t a match for a real lick, let alone one of the hounds. So when they came sniffing around to find out what was really going on in the 7th, well, Royce and Eddy had some tough decisions to make.
But when it comes down to it, there isn’t a lick in the world that’d put their necks on the line to save someone else. They’re just not that altruistic.
So they made sacrifices. They figured out which of their crew they could do without and sold them out like the backstabbing licks that they are, leaving a handful of “nonessential” childer for dead when the Guard came calling.
Some of the remaining guys didn’t like that.
They didn’t like it one bit that Eddy and Royce got to decide who was “essential” and who was “disposable” and they thought that maybe they should be in charge of the crew if those two were going to sell people out like that. Hulk was the most vocal of the dissenters and he’d been around since the beginning, so he figured he’d make his own little army and take out the two at the top so he could be king. He’s the fighter of the group, isn’t he?
He kept quiet after his initial outburst, spent a few weeks gathering more and more followers that he gave his blood to, and finally launched his attack.
Only he made a rookie mistake. A real rookie mistake. ‘Cause Hulk probably would have been successful against Royce and Eddy if he’d attacked during the day—knows where they sleep and all—but thinking was never really his strong suit and he waited until evening when he was feeling “less drowsy” himself. Some of his childer and followers, having never seen a “real vampire” before, cut and run the moment Eddy and Royce blurred into motion. Others fought, but they didn’t fight as well as the older, true-blooded licks, and they didn’t have any vampiric abilities at their disposal. They were just a collection of blood-drinking half-humans.
They never stood a chance.
Eddy and Royce didn’t emerge unscathed, but battle scars are nothing to a lick who kills and drains the bastard attacking them so they can mend up. Eddy and Royce each lost a ghoul in the assault, and Eddy his childe as well, but in the end the two came up victorious. They hunted down the rest of the dissenters and brought them back to the funeral home to drain and dispose of.
Thank God for that crematorium.
The only loose end, as Eddy saw it, was Nurse. No doubt she wasn’t too keen on the idea of still working for Eddy and Royce after they butchered her husband and there’s no way she didn’t know, right? So Eddy tracked her down the next night, found her in a shitty one-bedroom apartment with a moth-eaten mattress that Hulk had been squatting in while he assembled his army. Sunshine was curled inside a sleeping bag, as Eddy tells it, and Nurse tried to bargain for her unlife. Claimed she didn’t know. Claimed Hulk never told her what he was doing. Claimed that she was just camping out here because she was afraid of “”/characters/donovan" class=“wiki-content-link”>the dead eyes" and “”/characters/alexander-wright" class=“wiki-content-link”>the man with the bat" who she’d seen bash the skull in of her own childe—she was only waiting for the heat to blow over before she came back.
Thing about the Guard, though, is when they’ve got the orders to kill thin-bloods they do it quickly and get the fuck out: half-breeds ain’t worth their time. It’s just a job to them.
It was personal for Eddy. He took his time with Nurse. Made sure that she felt every agonizing minute of it when he carved her up.
She died screaming.
And Sunshine? Well, she woke up eventually in the aftermath of the murder, blinked sleepily at “Unkey Eddy,” and held out her hands so he could pick her up. She touched the tip of his “bat ear,” stuck her thumb in her mouth, and promptly fell back asleep.
So the coup failed. But it taught Eddy and Royce an important lesson: keep it small.
• 5. Baron Samedi (e. unknown)
Genina the Red Poet (e. early 17th century, d. 2000)
Manouchka (e. early 17th century, d. mid 17th century)
Yakime (e. mid 17th century, d. 1999)
Papa Agwé de Jacmel (e. late 17th century, d. 1915)
Henri Sabès (e. late 18th century, d. 1792)
Romaine-la-Prophétesse (11th gen. b. ~1750, e. 1792, d. 2010)
Calixte Laguerre (e. 1870, a. 2010, d. 2011)
• 13. Beaugelove Mondesir (e. 1964, a. 2010, l. 2012)
Cleo Petit-frere (e. 2010, d. 2012)
Aselhomme St. Michel (e. 2005, d. 2010)
• 13. Royce Sunnier (e. 2011)
Hulk (e. 2011, d. 2012)
Troublemaker 2 (e. early 21st century, d. 2012)
Troublemaker 2 (e. early 21st century, d. 2012)
Troublemaker 2 (e. early 21st century, d. 2012)
Nurse (e. 2011, d. 2012)
• 14. D’Angelo Montgomery (e. early 21st century)
• 14. Ladonna Bienaime-Sims (e. early 21st century)
Gamalielle Duffaut (e. 1969, d. 1986)
• Eddy (gen and sire unknown, e. early 21st century)
Nathan “Nate-Dawg” Morel (gen. unknown, childe of Eddy, e. early 21st century, d. 2012)
• Person (gen. unknown, childe of Eddy, e. early 21st century)
• Baptist Pastor Guy (gen and sire unknown, e. early 21st century)
• Other Dude (gen and sire unknown, e. early 21st century)
Hulk (b. 1984, d. 2012) + Nurse (née Last Name) (b. 1985, d. 2012)
• 2. Sunshine (b. 2007)
Sonnier Funeral Family by Position
Mortician & Embalmer: Royce Sonnier
Funeral Home Assistants: Eddy
Security: D’Angelo Montgomery
Medical Personnel: Ladonna Bienaime-Sims
• Royce Sonnier (13th gen. childe of Calixte Laguerre, e. early 21st century, Family Status ••••)
A fifth-generation funeral home director, Royce grew up knowing that one day he’d work with the dead. He just didn’t know that he’d also die, or that the dead sometimes got back up to go about their business. He was Embraced in his forties by a mambo named Calixte from Haiti, but she wasn’t long for the world after she gave him her blood. Royce picked up the lay of the land from a fellow Caitiff named Eddy and the two began a business enterprise in the 7th Ward to “live like kings” among the rest of the parasites in the high-crime area when they realized that the rest of the city would never accept them for their bastard blood. Of all the Caitiff in the city, he might be the one who “lives” the best.
• Eddy (gen and sire unknown, e. early 21st century, Family Status ••••)
Everyone knows that Gangrel have a tendency to abandon their childer. To stalk them from afar and see if the little mutts are worthy of the blood or worthy of being called “childer,” and if not then they leave them like a Toreador ditching yesterday’s dying fad. Eddy—which admittedly might not be his real name considering sometimes he spells it with a Y and sometimes with an IE—either didn’t impress his sire enough to learn the truth of his line or didn’t give a fuck when the guy or gal showed up to be like, “Eddy, I am your father,” since he never ended up hanging out with the other Gangrel much. Or, fuck, maybe he was an accident. Eddy never says. He cut some final ties to mortality the night he decided to hit up the 7th Ward rather than bow to the prince, the pretender, or the houngan, and for a few years he was content on his own. City outlaw, he liked the sound of that, with a handful of bolt-holes across the ward and the sort of silver tongue that got him invited in more often than not. He didn’t live like a king—no one in the 7th Ward has it that good—but he got on pretty well for what he was, even took a childe to teach the ways of the wild. And falling in with Royce? Well, best thing that ever happened to him, really. He’s the brains of the operation and enjoys the cushy spot at the top.
• D’Angelo Montgomery (14th gen. childe of Royce Sonnier, e. early 21st century, Family Status ••)
“I’m from Cleveland,” some people say, and their audience nods because they know about Cleveland: port city on Lake Erie, river caught fire a number of years ago, about halfway between NY and Chicago. “No,” D’Angelo would have to correct them, “Not that Cleveland. Not Ohio. Cleveland, Mississippi.” Most of them would scratch their heads and say they never heard of it. No. Not a lot of people have heard of Cleveland, Mississippi, a podunk town in the northern part of the state with a (very generous, if still shrinking) population estimate of 11,073. He grew up on Christmas Street (which confused even more people since the Christmas Story house is definitely in Cleveland, OH), and his mom and pop ran a vintage hardware store. Life was good for a while, but like all happiness, it didn’t last. A bigbox hardware and DIY store opened up a few miles away from the little shop they had, causing their business to go belly up. By that time, D’Angelo was almost clinching the district title all by himself while playing varsity for East Side High School. They lost state, though, to a better funded team with a deeper bench. Coupled with his family’s crippled finances, that loss scarred away the major scout-teams, leaving him with offers to play basketball at largely low-level teams, such as the local Delta State University, Coahoma Community College, and Mississippi Delta Community College. He took an offer from Dillard because he frankly wanted to get out of small-town upstate MS and he figured if he could do well enough at Dillard’s NAIA Division I team, he could transfer to nearby Tulane’s NCAA Division I team–-as, like so many others, he dreamed of getting to the NBA. And he might well have done so, or definitely become a Green Wave Center, had he not been Embraced by Royce. Now an illegal thin-blood, he had to turn down Tulane, which left him more than a little bitter. He’s also bitter over the quality of his “bench.” Still, being immortally young and strong does have its perks, especially amongst Dillard’s college population.
[[File:000000 | class=media-item-align-left | 100×100px | sunshine.jpg]] • Sunshine (b. 2007, Family Status ••)
Sunshine ain’t her real name. Hulk and Nurse gave her a right and proper Christian name like they had, but once your parents get got it kinda doesn’t matter what they wanted for you, right? She was young enough when Eddy murdered her mama that, even though she was there, she doesn’t remember much of the event itself. Just red. Some screaming. But that’s most nights when you live with a family of licks.
Sunshine grew up under Eddy’s watchful eye, considered him something of a “doting uncle” on his best days and “warden” on his worst. He made sure she stuck to school—homeschooling, they found some private teachers for her—but more than once they had to replace the mousy-looking co-eds when Sunshine decided she no longer liked the cut of the jib and found a new holster for her Eddy-issued blade. The licks never seemed to mind the blood. Eddy even thought it was cute. She heard him saying once that he couldn’t wait to see what life had in store for her.
Kids are pretty resilient, anyway, so if it bothered Sunshine to grow up with a handful of vampires she never actually said. She adapted to her new life as well as anyone could expect her to. Now eleven, she’s a bit of “jack of all trades” for the family, serving as eyes and ears and occasional bait. One of Eddy’s childer taught her how to pick a lock and how to figure out what’s worth what, and D’Angelo‘s whores put makeup on her one day and told her she’s a knockout, so now Sunshine likes to rob ‘em blind. She’s got a knack for making herself look older or grimier, which serves the fam just fine: plenty of them feed well when Sunshine prowls the streets for them.
As for Uncle Eddy, well, they’ve always been close. She wants the blood that everyone else gets but he wants to wait until she can pass for an adult, so for now she contents herself with “personal blood doll,” though that’s a bit of a secret. She recently hit her goth phase.
[[File:000000 | class=media-item-align-left | 100×100px | hulk.jpg]] • Hulk (14th gen. childe of unknown sire, e. early 21st century, Family Status •)
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[[File:000000 | class=media-item-align-left | 100×100px | hulk.jpg]] • Hulk (14th gen. childe of unknown sire, e. early 21st century, Family Status ••)
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[[File:000000 | class=media-item-align-left | 100×100px | hulk.jpg]] • Hulk (14th gen. childe of Royce Sonnier, e. early 21st century, d. 2014, Family Status •)
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[[File:000000 | class=media-item-align-left | 100×100px | hulk.jpg]] • Nurse (14th gen. childe of Royce Sonnier, e. early 21st century, d. 2014, Family Status ••)
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