June 12-14th, 2007

Session 4….
As police sirens squalled around the Hyatt Regency, Daniel, Autumn and Amy slipped into the changing room of the nearby Gap store. Unsheathing his sword, Daniel watched as ribbons of Fate unravelled from the blade. While the majority were thin and tangled, one glowed golden under the store’s wan light, twining back out to the street and down the interstate to the Crosstimbers district. Wasting no time, the three Scions hailed a cab and pursued the thread into the housing projects of Crosstimbers, the heartland of the HDF. Weaving between graffiti spattered high rises and chainlink fences the group watched as the thread began to fray, fine strands spooling off and evaporating into nothingness. Apparently sparked by some realisation, Amy dashed off down an alleyway calling over her shoulder that she, “Had to get back to the girl, the one from Mythic, the vessel, the host.” Somewhat bemused, Daniel and Autumn continued to follow the increasingly thin thread and came to an old warehouse. Autumn noticed that a group of men were observing them from the corner, several sporting the fingerless red gloves of the Hijos. Slipping through a deserted warehouse into the alley behind the warehouse the pair called Theo and asked him to join them.
After using Rada’s Eyes on the blood pooled in the crater outside the Hyatt however, Theo had other things on, or rather in, his mind. As the world slowed, and blurred to the lead shutter feel of the Baron’s magic, Theo opened his eyes to see the night sky sliding by overhead, dotted with stars, which shifted and formed into constellations before coalescing into a silver disc which exploded to leave the sky empty and dark. Shaking the effects of the vodou off, Theo quickly came to the conclusion that Hermes was either elsewhere, or dead.
Hurrying to Crosstimbers, Theo wove through the district to join his associates in the alleyway. While considering their approach the group heard the slap of running feet and turned to see a man skid into the alley behind them, arms windmilling frantically and eyes wide in terror. Screaming, “Fucking help me. Don’t let the bitch kill me!” the man scrambled for help behind the Scions, who watched in consternation as a woman dressed in a ragged business suit, hair matted and skin scratched, rounded the corner on all fours, before yowling in anger, revealing a mouth full of small sharp teeth, and bounding towards the group. Grabbing the terrified man, Autumn leapt for the fire escape, and they both scrambled up it, the man screaming in pain and fear as his leg fell through the rusted metal, trapping him.
Hearing the noise, the woman hissed and leapt for the fire escape but was batted aside by Daniel’s sword which bit deep into her hip, slamming her into the wall. Binding the woman’s hands and dodging her snapping teeth, the Scions searched her and found a wallet which identified her as Louise Albarn, and a member of the Houston Rape Survivors Association. Some quick and dirty interrogation of the man, involving Raine dangling him off the edge of the tenement revealed that he had indeed raped the girl, but had served three years before being released on appeal. Telling the man to get the hell out of there, the group stowed the bound and snarling woman in an empty tenement hallway before picking through the detritus to the reach the rear of the warehouse, Autumn and Theo hung back while Daniel attempted to pick the lock on the rear exit, watching in mild astonishment as he was blown backwards into the alleyway by a violent explosion which spat a gout of fire into the street. Retreating to the alley once again, the group saw a car pull up to the block the alley’s northern exit and disgorge a number of heavily armed thugs sporting the red gloves of the Hijos. The group turned to flee with Autumn grabbing Louise. With cries of “Look boys, fresh meat,” ringing in their ears both Theo and Daniel made to follow suit, until Theo heard a voice behind him call, “Ah, you again.” Turning, he saw the same gangster who he had met the day before. The man signalled his cohorts to put up their guns, and Daniel slipped into the shadows to watch the exchange. Commenting that Theo had missed his appointment, the Hijo invited Theo to meet with Camilo Cienfuegos and the two drove off to a high-rise several blocks away.
After taking a brief call from Daniel to the amusement of the Hijo who introduced himself as Paco, Theo wound his way up a ratty staircase past leering gang members to a small fourth floor room where he was introduced to Camilo Cienfuegos. Well built with piercing green eyes and an aquiline nose, the gang leader fixed Theo with a penetrating stare and they began to bat questions back and forth. During the conversation it became clear that Camilo had renounced his God, allegedly due to the hypocrisy of the Atzlanti approach to stopping destruction with blood. Theo gave the man short shrift, criticising his lack of faith in the Gods. Their conversation was interrupted by a sharp blow to the Scion’s head, which pitched him forward. Spinning round, Theo saw a man clad in a loin cloth, clutching a club studded with obsidian shards and decorated in strange, ritualistic warpaint. Further examination was prevented by Camilo who sighed, “If you want something doing, do it yourself”, in desperation, Theo flung the heart at the gang leader, who stepped gracefully out of the way and leapt over the desk, punching Theo squarely in the temple. Everything went dark.
It pays to have friends however.
Arriving at the tower complex a few minutes later, Daniel shimmied up the fire escape to the roof, and quickly thought up a rescue plan. Sending his Phoenix down to screech and flame at the third floor window, startling the two guards so much that one plunged over the railing and the other made a break for it, Daniel slipped in on the opposite side of the building and up to the fourth floor. Greeted by a fusillade of inaccurate but enthusiastic Uzi fire Daniel dispatched the man quickly and opened the door to the room, only to stagger backwards under the weight of an immense jaguar which leapt forward and impaled itself on his sword. Shifting the bulk of the beast, Daniel gathered up his comrade’s battered body and hitched a phoenix ride back to town, and the nearest hospital.
Already returning, Raine passed a pharmacist by chance, and stepped in, quickly cajoling the pharmacist into patching Louise up without calling the police. As she left, she saw the man reach for the phone and fled back into town, eventually depositing the woman at her apartment. A quick search of the place found a pinboard studded with photos of Louise with a man identified as Paul, and a diary whose social engagement consisted solely of nights out with Paul and weekly meetings of the HRSA, the next to be held at 8pm the following night. Stealing the woman’s phone and emptying her wallet, out of necessity of course, Autumn left.
Time passed, and Theo dreamt in his hospital bed, finding himself on a rocky, muddy road that led to a crossroad. The road was strewn with shattered manacles and rusty, broken ploughshares protruded from the mud along the path which led to a dark, spindly tree, under which stood two elderly men, the one dressed in an immaculate black suit, with a dark, trimmed goatee and an ebony cane topped with silver. His partner was dressed in a pristine white suit, with an ivory fedora and a neat, silvery beard. His dark, gnarled hands rested on a gold topped cane, and a dog lay curled at his feet.
Above his head in the branches, twin ravens carked and arked their curiousity out into the dark. The white hatted man stepped forward, and murmured “You ain’t s’posed t’be hear yet,” while the dark gentleman whispered, “Complications.” Alternating back and forth, the two suggested that Theo could be returned to health quickly as a favour to his father. Accepting a syringe full of clear fluid from Kalfu, the darkly attired gentleman, the Scion injected it into his arm, collapsing in pain as a thick, dark sludge forced its way through his veins. He fell to the ground on his back in the mud, and the ravens flew down. One settled on his chest, with a heavy “Ark!” and then hopped off as its partner joined it “Cark!” The pair alternated back and forward, “Arkcarkarkcarkarkcark!” Theo opened his eyes as the defibrillator came down with a growling buzz, “Ark!”
The Underworld had let him go. As the doctors fussed around his head, he heard murmurs of an unexpected blood clot in the brain, and whispers of his miraculous and sudden recovery. There was a strange chemical taste in his mouth and a pounding pulse in his brain.
The joys of being the Baron’s son.
The next evening, Autumn attended the meeting of the Houston RSA, utilising her father’s talents for lies and fast-talk to good effect. Whilst there she met and befriended Tracy, another newcomer to the group, and made the acquaintance of Madeleine Rothchester, the group’s founder. After telling the others that the experience was still tuo raw for her to talk about it, Autumn sat and watched a movie with the other attendees, stealing a glance at Madeline as she poured wine for the grateful women. For a brief moment, Autumn thought she saw a look of spite and hunger slip across the woman’s face, but said nothing, politely declining the wine when it was offered to her, and trailing Madeleine as she made her way home.
Waiting until the curtains were drawn and lights were on inside, Autumn snuck into Madeleine’s ground floor apartment through the bathroom window, padding across the tiles and peering through a chink in the door.
The shocked Scion saw Madeleine pour a glass of wine and calmly chat to another unseen person she called Thomas as she tortured him. When the sounds of tearing flesh and whimpers became too much Autumn made a swift exit and called the police. Slight confusion on their arrival led to her arrest however, and the Scion could only watch helplessly from inside the squad car as the officer that entered was torn apart in silhouette behind the drawn drapes. Leaving the car his colleague dashed to his assistance, but when a bloodied hand hit the pane and slid down the glass Autumn wriggled into the front seat and called the dispatcher for backup. The cops who arrived stormed into the house and gunshots rang out, quickly followed by the sound of shattering glass. Shortly after, an ambulance arrived, removing from the house an injured policeman with blood pooling around his stomach, and then a bodybag. The other two officers returned to the car and informed dispatch that the subject had escaped, and that a perimeter sweep was in progress. A quick drive to the station and an uncomfortable interrogation later, Autumn was released with the admonition not to leave town.
Another day passed, and unable to forget the events of the previous night, Autumn returned to the house, sneaking in once more through the bathroom window to investigate. Her sharp eyes picked up a trail of wine droplets which led back through living room, past a bloodstained sofa and shattered TV screen, through the bathroom, and out the window she had just entered by. A few kind words to Scarab picked up the scent which eventually led to a small park on the banks of the Houston River. Strolling through the park, Autumn headed towards a stand of pine tree on a small hill in the centre of the park. Entering the dusky shadowed light of the trees, Autumn moved among their tiger striped trunks before she was pushed down into the needles by a snarling weight on her back. Turning, Autumn came face to face with Madeleine, hair matted with twigs and dirt, eyes wild and teeth sharp. Her forehead was laced with pine needles, while others pierced her cheeks and thorned her flesh, accentuating her jawline and her wild eyes. Feeling the woman’s teeth nip at her throat, Autumn punched her square on the jaw, lifting her into the air and sending her crashing through a tree which snapped as the woman tumbled bloody over the shattered stump. As the woman reeled to her feet she hissed, “Why try to stop me? Why protect them? They are the same as they always have been, brutes, defilers who think they can take what they want, shatter lives, and escape justice. Why aid them?” Autumn frowned and asked the woman, “What are you?” Quirking her head to one side the woman hissed, “Madeline, Maddy, Mad, Mad, Mad, Maenad.” The Maenad shuffled closer blood dripping from its mouth ; leaning in close to Autumn it whispered in breath that stank of pine resin and bitter wine, “Leave me be. Let me destroy them. Let them pay for their crimes through me.” Autumn paused, considering, and the nodded assent. The Maenad smiled and reached deep into her jaw, dislodging a jagged tooth with a sharp crack. Handing the tooth to Autumn she whispered, “For when you need me and my sisters.” The Maenad leapt back into the branches with catlike grace. As Autumn turned to leave she head the sound of small, sharp teeth gnawing on bones high in the branches above. But confident she had made the right decision, and one her father might approve of, she headed back to the city.
Later that night, after a visit, a stiff talking to, and a slap from his father, Theo decided to play to his strengths, and arranged a meeting in his capacity as the Baron D’Ivoire with the head of MS-13 in the city, Viktor Gerena. Headed to the Black Fly with Autumn and Daniel in tow, ostensibly as bodyguards, Theo negotiated a tense meeting with Gerena, at last finding out that the HDF actually stood for Hijos Del Fuego, and then made for Club 21 to inform Nate Carmichael, ostensibly his superior in the city of the arrangement. While Carmichael took the news with surprising sangfroid Theo noticed on the way into the room that Carmichael’s secretary was drumming in a way that resonated with the pulse in his head, a pulse that Gerena had explained was a symptom of the Red Death, the drug that was the HDF’s chief claim to fame. Dragging the girl into the room, Carmichael prepared to shoot her, but Theo saved her life by asking for her as a mark of respect.
Taking the girl and driving back to the city, Autumn and Daniel were startled as she began screaming in the back of the car before coughing blood in a thick spatter onto the windscreen. Their driver, Noah, narrowly avoided a car which fishtailed across the road in front of them, and the Scions stared in consternation as several people on the pavement began collapsing on the sidewalk, screaming and hacking up blood. The car skidded again, screeching to a stop as a woman ran out a nearby apartment and somersaulted over the bonnet of the car. Dragging Lucille out the car, the Scions abandoned her on her knees, coughing blood in the road, despite her cries for help and Autumn’s protests and headed towards Crosstimbers, where both Lucille and Theo had felt the pulse beating strongest.
Arriving outside Crosstimbers district, the group were witness to a mob of forty people facing off against police with riot shields. Several charged the police, coughing blood which spattered against the plastic, causing the police to reel back. Ditching the car, the Scions bypassed the mob to wend their way through Crosstimbers, coming upon a scene of bedlam with people staggering through the streets, coughing and spewing blood. Screams and gunshots peppered the air, as the Scions dodged through the chaos to arrive once again at the warehouse, in time to witness a ragged line of people staggering coughing and retching their way into the warehouse, chanting “Surt, surt, surt.” over and over, growing in intensity. Skirting round to the back of the warehouse, the Scions wisely checked the replaced door for traps, finding a thin piece of filament wire. Autumn picked up a nearby crate and hurled it at the door, unleashing a second thunderous detonation, this time with everyone well clear. Threading through the smoke, the Scions found a congregation gathered around the stripped wreck of a car, with the mutilated corpse of Hermes pegged out on top, a sucking hole where his heart should be. Astride the corpse, clad in a jade sacrificial mask, arms upraised with a heart in one hand and an obsidian dagger stood Camilo Cienfuegos. Declaiming, “Tonight brothers and sisters, we are gathered here to shatter our chains…” the Scion was interrupted as shots rang out from Theo and Daniel, while Autumn tore a girder from the roof and swung it at the Scion. Camilo yowled like a jaguar, and the Scions felt a chill of fear seep into their bones, even as the gangleader yelled, “Get them!” to the crowd. As the crowd turned to dash towards Theo and Daniel, the Greek Scion danced across their shoulder blades and launched himself into combat, while the Baron’s child unsheathed his sword and carefully led the staggering, spitting mob away from the other Scions and round towards Hermes’ body. Pushing himself up onto the girder even as it hit him in the chest, Camilo then launched himself down the girder at Raine, a furious scuffle then ensued between the Aztec Scion, Daniel and Autumn, the two brave Scions battered by the invisible pull of some unseen lunar tide, Daniel landed a few solid cuts, while Autumn shrugged off the Scion’s blows and knocked a tooth loose from the sacrificial mask before the battle culminated in a bloody Camilo leaping out through the roof., swiftly followed by Autumn carrying Daniel. Autumn flung herself from the roof, but unseated by her own momentum missed the masked Scion. Leaping on top of the fleeing Scion, sword drawn, Daniel saw Camilo’s wounds close for the umpteenth time and swung a furious cut which disembowelled the Scion and sent him collapsing to the ground., where he looked up into Daniel’s eyes and spat “Better you than Cesar.” In the meantime, Theo had succeeded in unpegging the corpse of the God, and escaped out front with it in time to see vans draw up and spit out Victor Gerena and a flood of MS-13 gang members, reluctantly backed up by Carmichael’s contribution from the BGDN. Crying “Red gloves only!” Gerena directed his men to unleash a volley of withering fire which cut down the majority of gang members in the mob, and a few others besides. As he turned back towards the warehouse, Theo heard the whiplash crack of summary executions taking place behind him. Arriving at the corpse of Camilo, Theo saw the gangster’s ghost standing cloaked in jaguar skins, The ghost tipped its head towards him, and murmured “Necocyaotl will come for my soul soon.” As if on cue, a raven clad figure appeared behind the ghost, who knelt in supplication. The figure raised a hand and drove it into Camilo’s skull, removing the eyes and eating them, before driving a hand into the ghost’s chest and tearing out its heart which it swallowed with relish. The figure then spun and decapitated the ghost of the treacherous Aztec Scion, which evaporated in a silent flurry of black, lost feathers.
As sirens rose into the sky over the bloodstained streets of Houston, Daniel swore vengeance over the desecrated corpse of his father, and the Scions began to plan their next move….