The Missing Duchess
At the coterie’s next meeting, Deep Throat informs the group that while William Blake discouraged him from going to Atlantic City, The Powers That Be in Philadelphia believe there are several covenant kindred of notability still inside the city. The most important is Duchess Colette Vassar, a renowned Carthian diplomat. It is important that she be escorted out of the city safely. She has two progeny also believed to still be in the city – Reuben Parks and Sylvia Vassar.
Deep Throat and Grant interrogate the Brood which was captured the previous evening but he knows little of use. The coterie then heads to Lindra Benadari’s Penthouse where the captured ghoul is being kept. His name is Benito and he is the ghoul of the Duchess Colette. He fled Atlantic City during the Brood invasion and is unsure as to the current whereabouts of his mistress. She has three havens within the city. Her main haven is a manor at 1555 N. Riverside Drive. She also has a lesser known haven at the Showboat Atlantic City Hotel and Casino which the coterie can use as a base of operations within the city if they wish. The third is located beneath a tobacco shop south of downtown. Tyler expresses dissatisfaction with the payoff being offered, suggesting that these dangers and these insignificant rewards do little to make him interested in going into the heart of a Brood takeover. While Tyler talks to Deep Throat and Rowana, Grant pulls Lindra aside. They speak in the next room, the door still open, in hushed tones. Grant looks concerned briefly, but comes back calm and ready to leave. He says finally, “Tyler, I respect your decision either way. I know the rewards aren’t good. But I’m going.” Tyler looks to him in disbelief. Grant continue, “And I’ll still have your back, either way. You’re my coterie mate. But this will show your true colors.” Tyler snapped back, “You’re not showing a brain!” Calmly, Grant said back, “Whether I have a brain or not, the fact remains. I’m going Tyler. Are you with me?” Rowana had time to quip, “I won’t have his back if he doesn’t come.” No one was sure if she was serious or not, but Grant started to leave.
Lindra seems desperate to locate the Duchess and pleads for the coterie to look into the matter. After more argument and some outright bribery, they make preparations to leave for Atlantic City the next evening. In the end, Tyler and Olivetti had the deal sweetened considerably with a million dollars. There was also some discussion from Olivetti about a Russian prototype electric gun but Lindra suggested the coterie decide how to spend the money, or she could alternately do her best to get the schematics for the gun.
The Body Snatcher Strikes, Part 1
“But I don’t want to go among mad people,” Alice remarked.
“Oh, you can’t help that,” said the Cat “We’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.”
“How do you know I’m mad?” said Alice.
“You must be,” said the Cat, “or you wouldn’t have come here.”
Alice in Wonderland
The coterie arrives at the Showboat and heads up to the suite which acted as the Duchess’s haven. Deep Throat sweeps through the room with The Spirit’s Touch and senses that the Duchess last used the haven two week ago.
Deep Throat decides to perform reconnaissance on the Duchess’s manor in twilight form. Lying down on the bed, his spirit slips out of his body and flies off in the direction of the manor. At the manor he finds four individuals on the grounds. A bulky, grizzled man and a young woman with spiky black hair are playing video games in the living room. An ugly man that Deep Throat suspects is a Nosferatu is reading a book in the den. Upstairs there is an overweight, 40-something man with a gun and a combat knife. None of the people inside fit the description of the Duchess or her progeny. The safe in the study has been broken open and papers of some sort of building blueprint are strewn over the floor.
Back in the hotel room, Deep Throat’s body suddenly jerks upright. “There was nothing there,” he says. When the coterie remarks that he finished his reconnaissance awfully quickly, he shrugs and says that he is going out to feed. The others look at one another. Deep Throat had warned them that ghosts can sometimes take possession of an empty vessel. They ask Deep Throat several questions about their past activities and he seems to have full knowledge. Little do they know that the ghost which haunts Rowana has seized Deep Throat’s body. They let him go but Rowana follows him as his behavior strikes everyone as odd. Their suspicions are confirmed when Deep Throat rushes down to the garage and begins to destroy Rowana’s motorcycle. She quickly subdues him and after striking several blows the ghost flees Deep Throat’s body.
Still in a state of twilight, Deep Throat feels the blows being struck against his physical body and he zooms back to the hotel in a panic. His body is not in the hotel room and his distress grows, but Rowana soon reenters the room with his physical body slung over her shoulder. He reenters his body and asks what the hell happened. After some discussion, the coterie deduces that Rowana’s ghost was responsible. They will have to be very careful about using mind-out-of-body powers in the future.
A Fiery Welcome
The coterie heads to the Duchess’s manor. Deep Throat (hidden with obfuscate), Rowana (disguised as a raven) and Grant watch the front door while Olivetti and Tyler approach through a wooded area in the rear. An Asian woman comes out the front door cursing in Chinese. Deep Throat looks at her aura and sees that she is kindred and has committed diablerie. He mentally tells Grant about it. Grant waits a little longer for the kindred woman to get closer to the car and the bushes where he was hiding. Then he rushes out and tries to stake the woman, wounding her badly but missing her heart. She screams and runs back inside. The three kindred catch her in the entryway of the house and kill her, but she has already raised a ruckus.
Olivetti and Tyler, hearing screaming from the front of the house, conclude that things are not going well. Olivetti charges, opening fire on a man drinking a beer by the pool. Tyler, astonished that the normally mild-mannered Olivetti was capable of such aggression, runs to catch up, ready to open fire on anyone who appears. As they pass the crumpled body, Olivetti tries to discern if he was kindred. Tyler shakes his head and says ‘ghoul’, kicking the bottle of beer. They advance inside.
Realizing that their retreat to the rear has been cut off, the kindred inside become desperate. An incendiary grenade is thrown into the living room and Deep Throat is caught in the blast. The fire eats through the Mekhet like a ravenous lion but he grits his teeth and manages to not lose himself to the beast. Rowana and Grant engage the brood hand-to-hand, hoping that they will be less likely to use incendiary grenades at close range. Grant lands a wicked slash on the grizzled man, who immediately extends his own set of claws. The spiky-haired woman desperately tries to dodge Rowana’s blows but she does not remain standing for long. The grizzled man growls and is about to attack Grant again when he is caught by a hail of bullets from Tyler’s Kalashnikitty. This is immediately followed by a second round from Deep Throat’s Glock. Caught in the crossfire, he crashes into torpor.
The fire started from the white phosphorous grenade is beginning to spread. They rush upstairs to the study where they retrieve the papers Deep Throat saw on the floor. A quick search of the manor’s secret chambers (which Benito told them about) uncovers a week’s supply of blood in plastic packets, but the Duchess Colette is nowhere to be found.
Tyler searches the torpid brood, finding (and pocketing) yet another incendiary grenade. He then cuffs and stakes the unfortunate before carrying the prisoner out to the rental car, where he is unceremoniously stuffed into the trunk.
Burning Down the House
The coterie flees the burning manor and oncoming wail of police and fire sirens. As the others run, Grant stares at the fire and looks up to the sky. He walks down the street to where the others wait by the car. He sniffs, furrows his brow, and looks down the street distantly. He feels the presence of his sire in the city. A pit in his stomach forms, and he’s unsure whether it is because he knows his sire is close or because she’s still far away. Grant suggests they hunt, already on the back of his bike. The others agree to meet up at the hotel room. Grant tears away.