Jump to content

World of Darkness: Attrition - Prelude: War Games[FIN]

Adrian Moss

Recommended Posts

War is not a fast and delicate dance. It is born of numerous clumsy steps, exercised by the Unready on the Unwilling.


Justine Torjas paced back and forth in the waiting room of her sires court, though they appeared to be nothing more than corporate offices to the uninitiated. Through her numerous contacts, she had already learned of her assignments. One of the Invictus had crossed the line with a one of the Carthian groups. Now, they wanted to exchange some properties held by the Invictus (read: her sire) for the wayward kindred. It was a simple exchange, but one that required a steady hand. The Invictus of Los Angeles, or more appropriately, the Invictus of South Central Los Angeles, were not ready for a war, nor were the various fractious groups of Carthian's.

The door opened and one of her sire's favored ghouls came out to politely summon her. She strode in like the proud Ventrue she was, confident and self-assured. She immediately recognized three of the four kindred in the room. Her sire, Amos Cantrell, sat behind the desk. Directly in front of him stood the head of the Westwood Invictus, the Gangrel Jorge. On Jorge's right was the Daeva Moses Collins. Moses was the 'knight' of this domain. The kindred on the left, she didn't recognize right away. Justine did the math in her head and came up with the most likely answers - Adrian Moss, Mekhet. She didn't know much else about him, so he had to be a very low status kindred indeed.

Formal introductions were made, long in the Invictus tradition. The stranger was indeed Adrian Moss, childe of Vickers. Justine could only feel supremely confident in her grasp of the situation. Lord Cantrell started into the meat of the conversation.

"Madam Torjas, you will take Mister Collins and Mister Moss to a rendezvous arranged by a neutral party. You will go to the Cantor Lines #12 Warehouse at the Port of Los Angeles at 1a.m tonight. A Mr. Oglethorpe will arrive five minutes later with two other kindred as well. Lord Collins is to take the suitcase with the paperwork for the extorted properties and place it half way between your group and theirs. He will withdraw to you. Once he has done this, they will send their hostage, Mister Jenkins to you. When the hostage makes it to the halfway point, one of their party will then to pick up the suitcase. You will load up and return here. Is this clear?"

"Yes Lord Cantrell," Justine responded eagerly.

"Any questions?"

"No Lord Cantrell. Your plan is flawless. I will execute it as you have instructed."

Cantrell nodded then placed his hands on his desk.

"Very well, the three of you are dismissed. I should see you within four hours."

'Collins was a steady hand, but this Moss was an unknown' thought Cantrell. The Ventrue Lord detested Jorge of Westwood, but right now he needed the help. His faction, while larger, was less fixated on combat. They were bankers and businessmen, either Daeva or Ventrue. He had hoped he could buy Jorge's favor for this assignment, but the Gangrel asked too much. Jorge wanted to be Reeve. Anticipating Cantrell's reticence, Jorge had brought this Adrian Moss as a lesser Soldier to take his place. The cost was less severe - a minor boon to Jorge. Whatever Moss was getting out of this was of no concern to Cantrell. He and Jorge moved over to the Chess board for a 'friendly' game to pass the time.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Justine was also passing time. She kept switching her gaze from from Collins and Moss. Her relationship with Collins was complicated. She was the Childe of Cantrell, the highest ranking Invictus in this part of Los Angeles, so she was afforded greater status than many thought she had earned. Collins was one of her critics. Collins, the Daeva, had worked his way up the ranks through years and years of service. He was the sole Soldier for their faction. South Central was a rich faction, and often traded money for favor. Since they could buy muscle when necessary, this put Collins in a precarious position. He wasn't an 'earner'. He was an expense. This was her edge over him.

Moss presented a different problem. It was easy to think of him as a 'thing', a tool to be used then handed back to his Alder when done. On the other hand, there was the matter of Moss as an Invictus, and all Invictus had a stake in the game. What was Moss' angle? What did he need? Was he aiming for status? Did he need resources? What were his boons and debts? Justine filed away those questions to be found out later.

Unfortunately for Justine, their seating arrangement wasn't conducive to conversation with the Mekhet. He sat up front with Collin's ghoul. Collins sat in the back with her, briefcase between them. He wasn't in the mood to talk, and Moss was unlikely to talk to someone sitting directly behind him. She still felt she had to try.

"Mister Moss, how long have you been with the Westwood Coterie?"

"Three years."

"Do you like it there? I mean, do you socialize with other kindred?"

"Westwood is fine". (pause) "No one important."

"Oh, I don't find anyone to be of no importance. Who is it?"

Moss didn't answer her. Technically, she couldn't order him to, but it was rude to just ignore the question. Was he testing her, or was he just an idiot?

"Come on now, we have time."

"No one important means I'm not going to talk about it. I was being polite."

Collins smirked. Justine bristled. This Moss was crude and simple, but even the simplest of minds could occasionally score a point. She would mark that slight down in her memory.

Collins took over the conversation.

"So, you any good with that sword?"

"I'm in training," he replied quietly. Collins was unsure what to make of that reply.

"Any good with a gun?"

"I get by," Moss said, but the air of confidence in his voice was palatable. Collins made a note of that too. He could already tell that Moss wore body armor. So did he, and so did Justine. The woman wasn't totally clueless, just annoyingly arrogant. Collins hoped the Mekhet was fast, just in case. All Soldier's needed to be fast, though being strong didn't hurt either. He was a bit worried about how inexperienced this kindred might be. You could never tell how a newbie would handle himself under fire.

For that matter, Collins had to worry about Justine. She was ruthless and brave in the boardroom, but she had never faced death in the face. She wasn't a Warrior. What she was, was a political rival. Collins came from a non-Invictus sire who had migrated through the area some years ago and left Collins in her wake. He had fought and scraped his way to a position of importance within the South Central Coterie by taking care of the unpleasant tasks that need to stay 'in-house'. Now, Justine was threatening his position and something had to give.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

They were parked on the dock near the appointed warehouse. Collins' ghoul had parked the SUV so that it could go either deeper into the dockyards, or along the pier in case they needed to make a hasty escape. Justine stayed in the vehicle with the briefcase, while Collins and the ghoul stood on either side, doors open. Adrian sat in the front seat, with his door open as well. There was a cold breeze coming off the harbor, bringing with it the smell of petroleum and rot.

When the other faction's Van arrived, the three Vampires and their ghoul grew more alert. Adrian got out and walked around to the far (Justine's) side of their SUV. Collins noted it but kept his prime attention on the newcomers. They arrived at the appropriate distance and parked with their side to the Invictus. One person got of the van and looked around. Seemingly satisfied, they motioned inside. The Van door swung open, revealing three more people inside. Two of these (vampires?) held the arms of the vampire in the middle. That vampire appeared to be bound and gagged.

Several tense seconds passed before Collins was satisfied that things were going as planned. He looked into the SUV and motioned for Justine to give him the briefcase, and then things began to change.

Instead of handing Collins the case, Justine got out on the side next to Adrian and boldly headed toward the rendezvous point. Collins cursed under his breath, but quickly adapted. Now he had to watch Justine strut away. This was going to be something he was going to bring up with Cantrell. He stewed and was perhaps not quite as observant as he should have been. It fell to Adrian and the ghoul to keep track of events outside the meet.

Justine reveled in the moment. She was taking charge. She was taking the risk in these negotiations, and letting the Carthians know just who they were dealing with. She got to the halfway point, struck a dramatic pose, then placed the briefcase down. With a defiant toss of the head, she turned around and walked bag with every bit of dignity that her Invictus upbringing could provide. She gave Collins a triumphant smile as she came back to the car, but was a bit put off by the look in his eyes.

"What did you see in the van?" Collins growled.

Justine gulped. This hadn't been a show of force, it had been ...

"Everything looked fine," she said defiantly.

Collins grunted. The ghoul noted to Collins with a hand motion that the hostage was on his way over. The three looked toward the oncoming vampire. Collins and the ghoul noted the man was stumbling. His arms seemed bound in front of him. If he fell down he probably couldn't rise by himself.

Suddenly Adrian called out, "Ambush!"

Justine froze. Collins shouted for his ghoul to get into the car while he ran toward the hostage. As Collins drew close, several features immediately became evident. The man had an abundant amount of duct tape around his neck and lower head. His mouth was totally covered. The second feature was that the vampire's arms were bound with a series of hand cuffs from wrist to elbow. The third thing was that the hand and arm cuffs were attached to a chain around the kindred's waist, so that he could not raise his arms up to remove the duct tape. And there was something else - something behind ...

The hostage's, Mister Jenkins', eyes were wide with terror. At that moment, when he heard the phone beep with an incoming call, he frenzied. It didn't matter. The half block of C-4 attached to the back of his head went off. To say that Mister Jenkins was decapitated was putting it mildly. His whole upper body was shredded. The top quarter of his head, brain matter included, raced heavenward. His jaw fragments raced toward Collins and the waiting SUV that would no longer be his salvation. Bits of him impacted Justine. Collins was already diving to the ground when the blast wave hit him and drove the Daeva into the asphalt. Adrian? He was no longer around.

The saving grace of the moment was that the blast had as much impact on the four individuals around the van as it did on the Invictus. It knocked the two inside the back of the van back and off their feet. The guns they had been reaching for fell from their fingers. The on the driver's side had just opened the door, so the blast rocked him out and off his feet as well. The fourth kindred had been standing closest to the blast and was standing with his back to the van. He was blown back into the door, cracking the glass, and making him stumble to the grand as well. Had that been the sum total of the threat, the Invictus could still make a getaway. It wasn't though.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Rick's van came racing up the side street once he heard the bomb go off. The target SUV was right were the Master had said it would be. He could see one man picking himself up off the ground next to the open driver's side door. There was a woman crawling her way up the front of the vehicle. The other two targets were not visible, but Rick's view was obstructed by the corner of the warehouse. He skidded to a stop.

"One by the door! One on the hood!" Rick said. The other two ghouls, both newbies, poured out of the doors, Mac-10's at the ready. He sprinted about ten feet from the van as the man/vampire at the SUV's door got back up. The guy drew a gun while trying to get into the driver's seat. Rick opened up. Seconds later, the other two opened up as well. Those two's aim was lousy, but the sheer quantity of lead they were putting out had some effect. The guy slumped into the seat, but then returned fire. Rick's aim was better, and he kept up a steady stream at the door. On cue the three ghouls ran out of bullets.

They started switching clips when Rick felt a hammer blow to his back with the scary sound of a silenced weapon. He turned around as he stumbled, trying to both put a clip in the weapon while bringing it to bear. The rail-thin person (he had to be a vampire) shot him again, this time in the chest. Rick fell to the down, but managed to get the clip in. He only took his eyes off his assailant for a moment, but the guy was gone. A cold chill went down his spine. Rick stood up, but was distracted by the sound of the other two firing as one of them cried out in pain. The shot came from that damn guy firing from the driver's seat. Blood pumped to Rick's wounded areas, making him stronger once more. First he knew he had to silence that driver.

No sooner had he opened up again on the battered door sheltering the driver. Again, they kept firing at full auto. The driver slumped down once more, possibly dead. They switched clips again when Rick heard the second silenced shot go off. By the way one of the newbies fell face first to the ground, he had missed the first shot. As he spun around to shoot their vampire attacker, he vanished again. The second newbie looked at Rick slack-jawed. He didn't look that way long. The stranger appeared behind him and put two silenced rounds in his back. The newbie fell down too. Rick brought up his Mac and cut loose. The vampire stumbled then faded away. Rick stumbled back, spraying wildly. His Mac struck empty. He reached for his next clip when the Disappearing Vamp appeared right in front of him. The first shot took him in his right hand. The gun clattered uselessly to the ground. He tried healing himself, but the vampire's second shot blew a chunk of his left hand off. The clip fell to the ground. Rick stumbled backing, reaching deep to use what little he had less to heal his right hand and reach for the pistol at his hip. The Vampire shot him in the neck and Ricky fell down. The last thing Rick saw in this life was that huge bore staring him straight in the face.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Collins pulled himself up from the ground. His options were running, or drawing his gun and fighting it out. Collins chose to turn and run. He could see Justine pulling herself up on the front of the SUV. His ghoul was trying to get into the driver's seat. A strange van was coming in on the far side of the SUV. As he took this in, bullets started buzzing past him. His ears were still ringing, but he swore he heard another vehicle pulling up at his back.

'I'm going to die,' came Collins' revelation. It was oddly liberating. There wasn't the fear he thought he would have. That made it easier to beat the Beast back down into its cage. There would be time for going nuts later. Right now, blood pounded into his body totally dedicated to speed. He was off like a shot, reaching the SUV in only a few seconds.

"Torjas, get around my side of the car," he yelled to the Ventrue.

Both of his guns flew into his hands as he spun around. Using the engine as cover, he measured his three closest assailants. He would have loved shooting down their leader, but the two with the sub-machineguns were the more obvious threats. Two shots went downrange in unison from his .45's. Both caught the middle vampire in the chest. The vampire flipped backwards, gun flying. He would be up, but not immediately.

Justine crossed Collins' line of sight as the other two stopped and opened up on him and Justine. He took a clip to the shoulder, but his armor absorbed much of the impact. Collins figured Justine took three to the body, but she still managed to circle around him. More blood poured into the wound, healing it.

Collins continued to assess the situation. Leader had out a .357 Magnum, while the other vampire had a Mac-10. His ghoul was taking a pounding to his left, but he couldn't spare him much attention, because coming up behind the Lead Vampire were three more attackers, all sporting shotguns. First things first. Two shots went into the vampire with the SMG. That kindred staggered back, but kept firing. More hate came his way.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Justine was still pumping blood into the largest bruise on her back. She had never been shot for real, but if it was worse than being hit while wearing a vest, she didn't want to find out just how bad it could be. Her mind kept trying to keep the Beast in line and find a solution to this disaster. Gone were any thoughts of applying blame. Everything now had to be about survival.

"Collins, I need a gun!"

"Glove compartment! There's a .38 with a box of ammo. The gun is loaded," Collins added.

Justin hastened to get the gun. The door was already open. She could smell the blood form the ghoul, which didn't help matters. Inside she found the ghoul still firing out the ruins of his door at whomever was on that side.

'Just great,' she thought. 'She was going to die because that damn Mekhet had run off. Bastard.'

Her shaking hands opened the glove compartment and grabbed the gun. She heard Collins grunt and fall down behind her.

'I'm going to die. I'm going to die. I'm going to die!' she screamed to herself.

Justine grabbed the gun and tumbled back out outside. Collins was already rising and firing back once more, but Justine could see him wavering. She knew that all vampires had only so much blood, and when that ran out ...

She peaked over the hood and fired at the closest kindred. She missed. This whole gun thing was much harder than it looked on TV.

"Girl, fire at the ones coming around on my right. I think they're ghouls. If they get behind us, we're screwed!"

'We are screwed anyway,' she thought, but there was no sense in saying that now. She popped off another shot. The hammer fell down and nothing happened.

"I'm so dead," she whispered to herself.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thomas Kane Oglethorpe (he gave himself the name Kane) was not liking at the way this was going. TKO, as he liked to be called, has seriously underestimated the power of the C-4. Collins as a better shot than anticipated too. What was supposed to be a total slaughter had become an actual fight. Still as soon as this ghouls took out the driver of the SUV, they would overwhelm the other two ... wait, weren't there three of them? Oglethorpe went down to one knee to lower his profile and stole a look to his right. Three of them seemed to be concentrating on the van, but were was the fourth. This was still going to be a cake walk. It was just going to be a bit messier than anticipated.

He and Stanley kept alternating fire at Collins. George was getting back up and joining the firefight. His ghouls were racing at a crouch around the far side of the SUV, hugging the edge of the docks. Collins went down for a moment, but TKO didn't believe him to be gone. That female Ventrue popped up and fired off some shots. The three vampires facing her hosed her down and she stumbled back, but they had been overly generous with their fire and both the Mac's were empty. Those two switched clips while TKO kept firing ... or would have if he hadn't lost count of the bullets he shot. His hammer came down on a spent shell. Crap.

When he finished slapping the speed-loader in, he realized that there was no fire coming his way. Collins had taken that moment to fire at the ghouls. He hit one, who stumbled backwards and fell out of sight. The other three stopped moving and started firing back. TKO cursed. Those idiots were supposed to flank the enemy. The leader of the Long Beach Carthians kept to his kneeling position but fired rapidly toward the crux between the door and engine block were Collins had taken shelter. He saw the female stagger back, but any hope they had neutralized her ended when the rear passenger side door opened and she reappeared to keep firing.

'Fine,' TKO thought. 'He had another force he could use. He signaled to Rick and his band of ghouls to rush the SUV from that side. He looked over to make sure his orders were being obeyed. What he saw made him do a double take. He could see three bodies strewn about the place about half way from the van to the SUV. One of them (was that Rick?) had the top of his head blown off. Suddenly this had become a real fight.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Adrian was hurting, his precious blood was beginning to run low. He needed a moment to reload, but he could tell the fight was going poorly for the others. Collins' ghoul was either dead, or unconscious, and from what he could tell from the direction of the fire going in and out, Collins and Justine were in some serious trouble. He glided up to the closest vampire and put a round in the back of its head. The vamp stumbled forward and spun drunkenly around so Adrian shot him in the knee. That seemed to do the deed.

The next closest Vampire turned so rapidly that his gun flew from his hand. They stared at one another for an instant, then Adrian vanished. The first vampire he shot was staggering back up, while the second vampire ran for his thrown gun. A third vampire was still unloading his Mac-10 at the SUV, but shot those two a worried look. Adrian made his move again. The first two work looking around rapidly, impossible to surprise, but the third one still didn't know the score.

Adrian popped up so that the target was giving him cover. He took the shot, but only grazed his jaw and ear. There was a whirlwind of fire in response. Adrian was hit, but so was the third vampire. For Adrian, it was time to vanish and run again. His route behind the three vamps had shown him the three ghouls firing from a different angle at Collins and Justine. He sprinted in a circuitous route behind the rear-most ghoul. He healed his wound and the beast growled in hunger.

Rear ghoul, quick shot - no time to aim - to the arm. Humans were easier to hurt than vampires, who seemed to soak up gunfire. The three ghouls were all putting down their shotguns and drawing out their automatic pistols. The Mekhet put two quick bullets into the legs of one ghoul, then vanished again. This time was harder, with so many eyes upon him, but he managed to pull it off. They still tried to shoot. Collins chose this moment to open fire and the lead ghoul pitched into the harbor. When the last one turned around to see what had happened, Adrian put a round in the back of his head. Now it was three on three.

More importantly, sirens could be heard in the distance. It was time for both sides to be getting. The Carthians started retreating first. The rearmost laying down a spray of bullets while the other two ran for the van they had arrived in. Adrian took that moment to grab the wounded ghoul and feast on his blood. The struggle was over in seconds.

When the Carthian van pulled around, Adrian ran over to Collins and Justine. They looked rough.

"The SUV is toast," Collins said.

"The van over there still has its keys in it," Adrian responded motioning to the second van that had pulled up. Without further ado, the three ran toward the van. Collins took the driver's seat, while Adrian took the passenger's side. Justine was left to crawl into the back. The second that side door slammed shut, Collins floored it, sending a startled Justine into her seat. Adrian buckled up as they sped away.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Justine sat in the back as the late night traffic drifted by. She wished Collins would drive faster. She wouldn't feel safe until she was with her sire. Adrian ... he sat in the front seat, loading and checking his weapons. Collins drove with one eye toward the rear, fearing pursuit no doubt. As the fear drained from Justine's mind, other plots began to form. How could she turn this to her advantage? How could she plant this at Collins doorstep? Or, failing that, drop the blame on the Mekhet. He was the lowest rung on the ladder and lower rungs got stepped on.

She weighed the various options. What mattered was what her sire would accept. The truth didn't matter; it was the perception of truth that mattered. Collins was he senior, so blaming him was going to be rough and she only had a limited amount of time to build her case. It had to be Adrian. He was the outsider. He was a zero on her ledger, neither owing, or owning, boons. He would be the fall guy for this fiasco.

Collins was still reliving the fight, trying to figure what had been missed, and what the outcome meant. Surely Justine had fucked up by deviating from the plan, but he no longer thought that mattered. What mattered was Jenkins and the 'why' of his death. He was going over it, assessing the resources being used against him, the death of his ghoul, and Adrian's performance. That hit him. They hadn't planned for Adrian being there, yet they were expecting three Inictus Vampires there, plus Jenkins. That would kill the majority of the South Central Invictus in one blow. That meant war. Nothing else mattered, because if the Long Beach Carthians thought they could get away with killing off their opposing Invictus, that could start a faction war throughout the city. What the Hell had gone wrong?

Amos Cantrell took in the three vampires before him. He was sitting back behind his desk once more. When the floor security had informed him of their arrival, he had declared his chess game with Jorge a draw, even though he was on the verge of crushing the Gangrel. What Cantrell saw disturbed him. Everyone of the three were riddled with bullet holes, even Justine. Jenkins was not in attendance. What the hell had gone wrong?

By traditon, Collins should talk first, but Jorge pre-empted the Daeva.

"Let Mister Moss tell his version of the truth first, Lord Cantrell. He doesn't have a dog in this fight, thus he has nothing to hide."

Cantrell considered the request. His first instinct was to let Justine get ahead of this crisis, but politics recommended that he let Collins speak. Moss was an uncertain property, but Jorge might soon be useful, so survival dictated he go first.

"Let Mister Moss speak," Cantrell said with as much an air of magnanimously. Justine looked disappointed, while Collins looked impatient.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Adrian took a step forward, but couldn't stop himself from sneaking a look to his faction leader.

"It was a total ambush," he began. "There was no way, given the intelligence we had, to know that the situation would go down the way it was. There were no snipers, and the two vans they had as back-up were some distance away. The signal appears to have been the ...."

"Lord Cantrell, Mister Jenkins was murdered by the Long Beach Carthians. They attached some sort of explosive device to the back of his head and detonated. He was decapitated thirty feet from us. Not one of us could have stopped it. They clearly planned to murder him from the beginning."

Cantrell steeples his fingers, drawing in the data and trying to visualize the scene the young Mekhet was painting.

"Sir, the death of Mister Jenkins was the signal for the general attack. I drew the Cloak of Shadows around myself and moved rapidly to the left to engage that van. Mister Collins and Madam Torjas had been in front of the SUV, but recovered and fought it out from the right side of the vehicle. They were engaged by the three vampires from that had come to meet us. Mister Collins and Madam Torjas were flanked, as I later discovered, by the third van's occupants. They managed to keep both groups at bay until I dispatched the second van's occupants. I moved around from the left to engage the three vampires in front, but was unsuccessful in driving them off. Wounded, I turned on the ghouls from the third van, and Mister Collins and I were able to kill all of them."

Adrian looked decidedly upset as he continued.

"At that time, there were sirens in the distance. The Carthian vampires, their ghouls all dead or wounded, fled the scene. Our SUV was, well, totaled so we had to leave it at the scene. We took the second van and brought it here. That is my report, Lord Cantrell."

Adrian stepped back. Jorge smiled, while Collins looked relieved. Justine had let a mask of calm return to her features. Lord Cantrell told Collins to report next, which was pretty much the retelling of Moss' story, with only a few Point of View alterations. Justine's story was pretty much along the same lines, as she decided that the truth they were telling was kind enough to her involvement in this disaster that she would let it lie. Lord Cantrell dismissed the three to wait outside while he worked over matters with Jorge. Half an hour later, Jorge came out and took Adrian with him. Cantrell brought Justine and Collins long enough to tell them to go home and report back in tomorrow as soon as possible. This night was over, but what would the Invictus do about the Carthian murder of one of their own and the attempted murder of three others?

Link to comment
Share on other sites


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

  • Create New...