The Fragile

Chapter 1

Beginnings

“Los Angeles, City of Angels….

She is a difficult creature to define, A land of sex and violence, of gangs and glamour. At the same time an urban wasteland of ghettoes and a Mecca for the wealthy. Where television and other media blast brands, lies and promises to an ocean of people.
3.8 million of them. All huddled together in a vast sprawl covering 1300 square kilometers that attracts souls from every walk of life, belief, culture and ethnicity.

Many would describe LA as a young city, full of naïveté and lacking in aesthetics. An ugly grid of streets interconnected by arterial freeways that choke with cars at all hours of the day….but it is at night when LA comes into it’s own. When it’s concrete facades and superficiality are glossed over by the twinkling of millions of lights and the shadows that they cast.

Yes, LA at night can truly be said to be beautiful, in many ways a hunter’s paradise. A vast human heartbeat waiting to be snuffed out.
Now that your kind are so rare, the city is yours for the taking….
The Angel offers you it’s neck in supplication and waits."

The coterie, has spent the last five years in each other’s company. Together, they have been assigned to minor tasks by the Seneschal, gradually forming the bonds of cooperation and mutual understanding. They have had to adapt not only to one another, but also to the city’s elusive kindred and their laws, mores and demands. The Camarilla are in control, and they intend to keep things that way. The traditions, now more than ever, are enforced to the letter. The frayed edges of civility are kept in check in some small part by the actions of coteries like this one, working below the radar, to ensure the Prince’s authority is maintained.

It is then, on a sultry LA summer night, that we find them lounging at a strip club. The “Mr. Moist’s”, owned by one of their number, Michael as a front for one of his many illicit affairs. As they indulge their baser needs, feeding on the locals, enjoying the swimming sensations brought on by satiation and no small amount of laced blood, they are disturbed by the arrival of their liaison, Ariane. A neonate of some years, she has befriended them over the course of the past five years, feeling more kinship with them, than many of the stuffier Ancillae and Elders that populate the city. Since the Eradication, neonates have become somewhat of a rarity, as many of them perished in the conflict. Ariane, it seems was one of the lucky ones.

She greets the group, but doesn’t waste any time getting to the point. Montero has asked them to look into something for him.
According to his reports, a cult has taken root in the city. Scores of young kine have started gravitating to an abandoned house in Venice Beach. This news would not have been worthy of note before the Eradication, but given the nature of the former Sabbat, any news of cults is cause for concern, especially when a ghoul was reportedly sighted by one of his men.

The coterie decides to investigate immediately. Leaving Ariane behind, they drive to Venice Beach, making sure not to be followed.
It doesn’t take them long to find the house in question. A ramshackle house in a quiet side street, apparently abandoned for some time, although clearly inhabited by squatters. Low light can be seen burning in the window on the upper floor. They decide to wait and observe.
After a few hours, they see two young men approaching on the street. It becomes evident within moments that the shorter of the two is a ghoul, and looks to be guiding the taller kine to the house. They enter the building, and emerge not long after with a young woman, also a ghoul and drive off in an old brown ’70s Oldsmobile.

They follow the car for several hours north out of Los Angeles, all the way to Red Rock Canyon, a popular hiking destination. The coterie approach stealthily, driving their car behind cover, to avoid notice. They split up – some climb onto a rise above their targets to get a better view, others taking up flanking positions on the ground out of sight. They spy a large group of roughly twenty young people gathered around a large campfire in the midst of a party. Music plays from a small stereo, alcohol is flowing. The scene would not have seemed out of the ordinary were it not for the three bound and gagged kids lying propped up against the canyon wall. Clearly something odd was going on.
Using their senses, they discover that there are six ghouls amongst the dozen remaining teenagers there. They also spot several cars and a minivan parked nearby.

It is then that Dimitri decides to inspect the Oldsmobile he had been lying next to up on the ridge. He discovers two corpses, in the early stages of decomposition, in the trunk. It becomes clear that something very wrong is afoot here. Khalid hears the mewling whimpers of a weeping child coming from the minivan. In addition, Dimitri notices another lone figure approaching the campfire out of the darkness. It is a vampire. He decides to take action. Not wishing to give up the element of surprise, and having a serious hunch that the newcomer isn’t friendly, he fires his Dragunov sniper rifle and hits the newcomer in the head, blowing a large hole in it, but much to his dismay, he doesn’t go down, instead he disappears from sight.

The coterie spring into action, and Dean leaps amongst the revelers, causing some to scatter in panic and others to stand their ground. Michael joins the fray from his position. The fight is brutal and many ghouls perish under their combined merciless assault.
Khalid decides to rescue the weeping child in the minivan and rapidly regrets his decision as the little girl, not more than a seven year old in appearance, leaps on him and tries to drink from him, but misses. He has discovered a second vampire.

Khalid struggles with his kindred assailant, and throws her off into the van’s interior. He manages to wound her with sorcerous flame, and she flees into the night but runs into Michael, and they fight. He manages to subdue her, but not before being wounded by her aggravated bite.
Dean eliminates the remaining ghouls, and rounds up the fleeing kine. Khalid finds Michael and the girl and they have a disagreement about her fate. Michael drinks from her to sate his gnawing hunger. Khalid scoops up a sample of her blood for later use. They decide to behead her, ending her short unlife. The argument sparks heated tension between the two of them.
In the aftermath of the battle, Khalid approaches the spot where the vampire was shot and disappeared, and manages once again, to obtain a gritty sample of his precious vitae.

Dean returns with a lone teenager, the others having either fled or died, a 16 year old kid called Andrew Farley. They recognize him as the figure they’d seen enter the abandoned house with the ghoul earlier that night. They decide to take him with them.

They burn all the bodies on the fire, adding plenty of accelerant to keep the fires burning hot, and set fire to all the remaining cars and van.
It is then that a helicopter appears in the distant sky, and the coterie take this as their cue to leave.

Upon returning to Los Angeles, after a long drive, they place Andrew in the care of Khalid’s ghoul. The following night, they gather several clues about their adversaries from the previous night’s battle.
Andrew’s phone contains several text messages pertaining to the meeting that night with a girl called Lydia Jones. Another girl called Cynthia is also mentioned.
Khalid performs a Blood Walk ritual on the two samples of vitae he retrieved from the battle.
The girl’s vitae revealed that she was sired by a vampire called Maciej Zarnovich, a Tzimisce, and thus likely former member of the Sabbat.
The man’s revealed his name to be Phillipe de Lyon, a Herement, childe of Arianne, childe of Oliver.

They decide that they must inform the Seneschal of their findings and get further instructions before proceeding.

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