“We Have Eric”
Marcovic is sitting in his room at the Aria (he was left behind when the group went into the Storm Drains looking for Benny last session; in-game because he was sulking in his room and out-of-game because the player missed the session). There’s a knock on his door and he opens it to see Monique Skotakis. Monique has always been friendly, even flirtatious, in the past but now she is cold and business-like. She tells him about the destruction they caused in the Aria earlier that day (this is all news to Marcovic) then tells him that the Skotakis clan is not happy with the White Council, particularly the rude Alois; she makes it clear that any further episodes would be unwise. Then she tells him that while his “friends were playing in the sewers”, her family has found and apprehended her brother, Eric. She tells him that the rest of the group is in the storm drains if he wants to find them.
Running Through the Storm Drains
There’s a strange hissing noise as Angel and Dierdre, the “daughters” of the Spider Mother grow and shift into grotesque half-human, half-spider monsters. Aaron, also an emissary of the Spider Mother and part of the Spider Host also transforms into a similar form and shoves Alois, Daniel, and Tom to get them running.
The group has a choice whether to stand and fight or to run and they run. Thinks don’t look good, as the “daughters” are much faster than them and much more maneuverable, able to run on walls and the ceiling as easily as the floor.
(We handle the chase using the “Cat and Mouse” extended challenge rules; the chase will last three turns and each PC will roll for one of the turns, with the other PCs, plus Aaron, supporting them with maneuvers and declarations; similarly either Angel or Dierdre will roll each turn with the other supporting. The Spider Daughters are much faster than the PCs, but have less support, and less FP, which helps even the odds a bit).
Alois throws a potion that creates a mist of sorts that entangles and slows the Daughters and the group runs as fast as they can. The eerily swift daughters shriek in rage as they try to force their way through the cloying mists (the group gets a solid lead in the challenge).
The mist only holds the daughters for about ten seconds, then they shatter the spell and surge down the long corridor towards the group. Tom transforms into his huge bear form and Alois and Daniel pull themselves up with his thick fur. Aaron smashes a weak section of the wall and throws chunks of cement and rubble in the daughters’ path to try and slow them. The daughters climb the walls and go above the rubble with only the slightest slowing. They gain on the group until they’re almost close enough to strike.
Daniel pulls himself into a less precarious position on Tom’s back and turns back towards the daughters. He fires off a dozen shots as they continue to close. None of his hits do any real damage, but he slows them enough for Tom to turn around a corner and for Aaron to again throw rubble in the passage. Tom and Alois throw their might (muscle and magical respectively) to add to the debris, this time filling most of the corridor. The daughters hiss and shriek again at the debris and begin clearing it.
By the time they’ve cleared the rubble, the group is far enough ahead that the chase is effectively over. The group is safe… for about 1 minute.
“The Count Says Hello”
The group is in a fairly abandoned stretch of the storm drains and wants to get out as fast as possible; the Spider Host is not restricted to the storm drains (Angel and Dierdre regularly hunt on the streets above) but the odds of being followed decrease significantly. Aaron leads them towards the nearest exit. When they ask where the exit leads, he tells them it’s in the heart of Fremont Street (the heart of the Red Court’s power).
Meanwhile, Marcovic has been looking for them; using his natural skill and affinity for traveling through the Nevernever, he finds them. But before stepping back out of the Nevernever, he peeks across the Veil and sees a strange Red Court vampire (obviously female from her body, but her face is covered in a mask made out of a human face—her eyes looking out of the eye holes and the lips sewn shut) and a small horde of zombies arrayed in front of her.
The rest of the group comes around the corner and both groups surprise each other.
Ana recovers first (with her vampiric speed). She is a Kemmlerian necromancer in addition to being a Red Court vampire and her first action is to summon up a shield of entropy and death energy around herself.
Marcovic drops through the Nevernever without a sound behind her, then uses one of his enchanted items to peak through the Veil at several points around Ana until he finds a connection to a Nevernever realm filled with water (tied to the storm drains intended function to channel water during flash floods). He opens a portal above her and water comes crashing out, turning quickly to ectoplasm even as more water keeps pouring (he did a maneuver to place an aspect on the zone).
Tom roars and throws an armful of concrete and stone shards, mixed with debris like broken bottles, towards Ana and her zombies (also maneuvering and placing an aspect).
Daniel (who still has his gun out from when he fired at the spider daughters) opens fire on Ana, to keep her pinned (also a maneuver).
Then Alois takes advantage of all the maneuvers to pull up a massive “storm” of black lightning (created of pure spirit and filling the entire zone). Like when he blasted one of Vanguard’s bodies earlier, he cranks the power up to absurd levels then uses aspects and fate points to keep control of the whole mess.
The lightning interacts violently with the water and ectoplasm still pouring from the rent in the Veil, but also being sucked inwards (towards the hapless Ana and her zombies). Combined with the pinning fire from Daniel and Tom, the attack is devastating (again over 20 damage base! After this we had some discussions about how to interpret some of the evocation rules — the end result being that Alois was toned down a bit from being an insanely destructive damage monkey to only a really powerful damage monkey).
Ana has her ward she just cast, as well as her natural toughness and a finger bone necklace containing a powerful block against a single magical attack. Even with all of that protection, she is fried to a near-crisp.
Her flesh mask is completely destroyed and her rubbery black flesh is melted and ravaged. Her literal mask of skin (one of her magical foci) has also been destroyed. Her zombies are turned to ash before ever acting. She promptly surrenders, offering information for her life (she offers a Concession; which prompts a fairly lengthy discussion about whether they could accept the Concession, get the info, then just kill her anyway — the answer was no if they accepted the Concession but yes if they pushed it all the way to Taken Out — they decide to accept the Concession).
Ana spills on the Outsider Trafficking
Ana tells them everything she knows about the Outsider trafficking: A wizard who is part of the Tower is the one summoning the Outsiders. She doesn’t know who it is, though she knows both Count Val Dosti and Nikki Kraja know. The Red Court provides the summoning place, the supplies, and handles most of the logistics of the trafficking ring. Eric Skotakis uses his connections to find the right kind of high-end prospective buyers and runs the auction itself (his Skotakis ability to amplify a sort of reckless feeling of invulnerability helps drive the prices even higher than they would already have gone and it gives him a chance to satisfy the Skotakis rarified feeding needs even though exiled from the casinos and other typical Skotakis hunting grounds).
She also tells them that each summoning and sale takes several months (she doesn’t know whether this is the fastest the outsiders can be summoned, or whether they go at that rate for other reasons, such as the time to find appropriate buyers).
Ana has not been directly involved in the Outsider trafficking at all; she suspects that Count Dosti already fears her power (even as he makes use of it) and he doesn’t want her close to another potential source of power.
After she has finished telling them what she knows, Ana slips through the Veil and runs. Marcovic could probably follow her and bring the other along, but they decide to let her go because they’re battered from effectively three conflicts back to back without a chance to rest (or clear stress). (Plus, letting her get away alive was part of the Concession so the rest is really just justifying it in the narrative).
“They’ve taken my daughter!”
The group heads back to their rooms at the Aria; they’re on heightened alert until they get off of Fremont Street and back onto the Strip and its relative safety as Neutral Ground. there are no other incidents until they reach the Aria.
Sammy Beck, the Paranet scout who tipped them off to the Outsider auction at the Harmon Hotel the night before is waiting for them in front of the Aria. His eyes are puffy and red and he’s clearly on the edge of tears.
“They took her!” he says in a broken voice, “I thought it was just rumors, but they took my ”/campaigns/welcome-to-las-vegas/characters/cass-williams" class=“wiki-content-link”>Cass!"
They calm him down enough to get a more coherent story.
Sammy tells them that there have been rumors of minor talents being kidnapped off the streets and then vanishing. There was never many and Las Vegas has tons of disappearance, plus the rumors always involved “a friend of a friend”, so Sammy never took them seriously. But now his daughter, Cass Williams, had vanished and he knew she was in danger. He doesn’t have much talent, but he has the Sight and a gift for divination with tarot cards, and he’d been able to learn enough to know she was in danger.
In all of his tarot readings since her vanishing, a couple cards had come up over and over and over again:
- The Tower: this shows up a lot in Vegas and is pretty well-known to be connected to the Warlock’s Tower (the Warlock, before becoming the Warlock, always used tarot archetypes for his nicknames and the Flamingo was always a nexus of power even under the previous Warlock, but it was the current Warlock who began calling it the Tower), but it’s almost always inverted in Las Vegas, meaning disruption is being prevented, but now it’s upright
- Death: Especially in conjunction with the Tower, it meant change was coming; major and disruptive change
- The Hanged Man: The Hanged Man was tied to sacrifice, but it was inverted so it isn’t positive or voluntary; the card keeps coming up around his daughter and he’s sure it means she’s going to be sacrifices
He’s also sure it all means that her disappearance is part of the major upheaval that was triggered by the auction the night before.
Sammy doesn’t have the ability to track Cass himself (he has some minor talents, but he isn’t a full practitioner), but he has several things that belonged to her and he knows enough about how magic works to know they’ll work for a tracking spell.
The group agrees to help him then send him to Billy’s Diner to wait for them.
“Don’t call us, we’ll call you…”
As soon as they’re back in the Aria, Aaron sets in and asks what about him? Alois assures him that they’ll still help him, but he’ll have to wait until their current issue is resolved. it’s clear from Aaron’s face that he’s convinced they’re abandoning him and he’s as good as dead. He accepts their assurances otherwise with a vague nod and leaves.
Then the group turns to planning their next steps, including learning more about the Outsider trafficking (such as who is the summoner who’s involved with the Tower) and finding Sammy’s daughter, Cass.