Friday, January 9, 2015

Vampire: Graves in the Desert Conclusion

Monday was the conclusion of our Vampire: The Requiem story. It was...pretty grim.

Last time, recall, Delphine, her father Richard, her girlfriend Rachel, Mordecai, and Myra were in the room at Binion's (Heath was in his office arranging things). Rachel, having just had the truth about vampires revealed to her and not quite believing it, stormed out. Delphine followed her...and saw her grandfather appear from around the corner.

She lunged forward, grabbed Rachel and shoved her behind her, and faced her grandfather...but the man vanished like smoke. Delphine turned around and saw Rachel was gone. She used Auspex to view the event from a different perspective, and realized that the "grandfather" she'd seen had been an illusion...but that the real one had sand on his arms.

Terrified, she grabbed the others and told them they needed to head to the desert again. Heath agreed (having backed up his files and prepared the casino for burning).

They drove out to the desert, and en route Richard told them a little more about what they were up against. He spoke of shadowy beings called Strix, spirits that hated the Kindred and could possess their well as those of living people. He said that he wasn't sure how to kill them, other than burn them. Mordecai asked what exactly the plan was, and Heath said they were going to drop off Richard and Delphine and get the hell away. This wasn't their fight.

They arrived at the gravesite. The bodies they'd extracted had been dug up - plus four more, two adults and two children. Mordecai looked through the man's body, and found a wallet and an ID - his name was Edward Paternak, and he was from Orangeburg, NY - just as Mordecai was. He tried to remind the man's face, but couldn't, though it looked strangely similar to his. He noted that all four people - man, woman, two children - had been shot, and they'd been here for years.

Delphine looked at the area using Auspex, and saw her grandfather standing there, forcing Rachel to dig. Her hands were ruined and bleeding. And then he grabbed the shovel away from her and told her to run, and she did, away into the desert.

Just then, the characters saw movement at the SUV - a slight, Asian vampire. Mo Fuji. She opened the back of the SUV and lit the Molotov cocktails, and tossed one in.

Delphine ran over to her, while Heath shot at her. Mordecai disappeared with Obfuscate and started creeping up. Delphine reached Mo and grappled with her, eventually overpowering her and throwing her into the fire. The SUV burned and Mo crumbled to nothing (and Delphine lost Humanity).

And then a flow of smoke, and grandfather appeared, over near Myra. He smacked her in the head, dropping her into torpor (remember, she was pretty badly dinged up). Heath ran. Mordecai snuck over, invisibly, but grandfather apparently saw through it and snarled. Richard engaged him, and Delphine screamed for Rachel. Grandfather vanished, having beat Richard into torpor as well.

Heath, meanwhile, made it to the highway and found Rachel sitting there. He tried to comfort her, but Nosferatu aren't the best at that. A car pulled up, and Heath intended to steal it, but the driver turned out to be Roberto. Hearing that Myra was in danger, he ran to get her, taking the keys. Rachel, hearing Delphine was there, followed. Heath, figuring "fuck it," hot-wired the car and drove off, heading back to Vegas.

Back at the gravesite, Mordecai picked up Myra, probably figuring to get her out of the area, but Roberto found them and saw through the Obfuscate (probably via blood sympathy on Myra). Delphine and Rachel found each other, and Delphine, desperate, Embraced her.

Now stuck in the desert with two vampires in torpor, one with very little blood, and the sun rising soon, they decided to bury themselves in the graves and try and get home the next night.

Heath arrived in Vegas to find Binion's in flames. His cell phone rang - Delphine?

"Hello, Heath," said grandfather. "I want you to do something."

"What?" said Heath.

"Take credit for this," he said. "For these graves in the desert. Don't mention me to anyone. I was never here."

Heath agreed, and hung up.

Meanwhile, in the desert, grandfather, the Strix, sat on the fresh graves holding his son and grandaughter (also his childe, grandchilde, and great-grandchile). "What to do," he said, swirling the sand, "what to do."


And the letter:

Dearest Bartholomew,

Two years had passed since the Week of Roses and the OK Corral Tournament, and Kindred society was normalizing. Clans resurfaced, the natural stagnation of the Kindred coming to the fore. And yet, something had changed, something that none of us truly understood.

It was November 2008 when Lori and Ben Dennis died in the parking lot of the Downtown Grand. Suspicion initially fell on Mordecai Pasternak, the Kindred owner and proprietor of the nearby Mob Museum, but the evidence and the support of Heath Newman shifted it. The deaths were not a special concern - people die in Vegas frequently - but the couple's 4-month-old son vanished, and that whipped the city into a frenzy. Tourists with children stopped going out at night, and stopped spending money, and no one, Kindred or mortal, would stand for that.

The story of that baby's disappearance is prosaic. The discoveries that it led to, however, were of a more personal nature than many of the tales I've recounted. And yet, as I watched a piece of Old Vegas burn some time later, I remember thinking that if I could see what I'd seen, know what I knew, and still feel some stirring of grief for those lost, then perhaps I would always be at least somewhat human.

It began, as I said, with the disappearance of a baby. On the night of November 21st, 2008, Martin Rossini's Sheriff, Thomas Pilate, entered Binion's, and sat down for a game of poker...

...Binion's burned on November 24, 2008. Twenty-six people died in that fire, and many more were injured. Heath Newman withdrew from his position as a Harpy thereafter, retiring to his other casino and firing the Kindred he had on staff. Rumor has it he intended to pursue his studies as one of the Ordo Dracul, and such had been his ambition for a long time.

I have heard, however, that he made a trek to the desert, to a lonely place where the sands hold mournful secrets, and when he went to the desert, he had four other Kindred with him. He returned alone. What did he bury out there in the sand? What do the graves in the desert hold? What stories untold, ambitions forever unfulfilled?

We make the mistake, Bartholomew, of believing ourselves immortal just because we do not die. But we do not have the time that we think we do, and in that respect, if no other, we are still quite human.

Yours as always,