Fog City Blues

Summer Warmth

Summer is always hard for me, this one most of all. It’s around this time I remember losing my little brother. Maybe that’s why I started helping at the Orphanage, as some sort of post-traumatic growth. I’m not a shrink, but I did have to do a rotation in it.

While Rena and Karina told me about it, what we eventually found out about the boy Brandon was profound, if only to me. Frankincense. Myrrh. Ritual markings with crosses and crucifixion, it was only the beginning of the trouble.

I was examining Mandy, a 7-year old that Darla had brought in. Darla and her husband Maurice ran the Orphanage. She mentioned offhandedly that Brandon had gone missing the night before, which was out of character for him. When she refused my offer of help, I figured I’d ask John & Fang.

Fang’s grown up a lot in the last few months. He’s less rebellious, though I’m sure John complains that he’s an uppity kid. John’s tastes run in the old fashioned; baseball games on a radio, beer with pedigree reaching back to the roaring twenties and tobacco that comes in pouches with rolling papers. It’s no surprise Fang was looking for someone besides his “babysitter” to learn from. They were interested when I mentioned the missing boy. Fang drove us in his “new” car, a 1967 hardtop Chevy Camaro. This thing had seen better days and while it’s a bit painful, I sit in the back to give John the seat next to his mentor.

The Orphanage was a converted townhouse and a nice one too. With around twenty kids housed there, and Darla and Mo’ to boot, it was a full house. Mo’ was in, but Darla was still out with Mandy. He invited us in to talk; John and I sitting down with him and Fang going upstairs to see what was going on. The conversation was calm enough until John came back from a walk-a-about and shook hands with Mo’, introducing himself as Warden Westone.

So, Mo’ was in the Know, so to speak. Great. Just great. He proceeded to let us know that he and Darla were what John calls “Minor Talents” and that this was a house of half-breeds, of children born from the union of humans and Infernals.

Beings from Below. Devils. Demons. Servants of the Adversary, as I’ve been told.

And worse yet, these kids had a Choice (yup, proper noun) ahead of them. I had no idea what Changelings were, but John gave me the lowdown. Every Fae-hybrid has a Choice to make: be Fae or be Human. They can sit on the fence if they want, but eventually they have to Choose.

And these kids, these Cambions, are faced with the same Choice, but it’s different:

They’re unsure of when the Choice will hit them.
And if they choose the wrong way, you have a Hellbeast on the loose.

While Mo’ was scared of John and they discussed the topic further, after Fang had joined us and we had moved into Mo’s study, I was pondering a thought. What am I? Am I like them? Did I have the same choice forced on me?

Mo’ said he’d come with us to look for Brandon and John suggested we start with some of Brandon’s things. Mo’ fetched a hairbrush and they set to work in the basement while I stood by. When the spell went off, there was nothing. A profound sense of quiet settled over the basement. When I asked where to next, John shook his head at me. I had seen his tracking spell before, but it had never just flat-lined on him. Then it hit me.

Fang hung his head. Mo’ fell to his knees. I clenched my fists. We would find out from Rena and Karina that they had to break the news to Darla at the Precinct. I don’t know how they do it, facing people and telling them that someone they care about is gone, forever, from their lives.

Someone or something out there had taken Brandon away from Mo’ and Darla’s best efforts to save him. I had spent time mentoring some of these kids, helping to improve their lives. I had dispatched predators lurking around their home before. Up until this point, my efforts were just a favor.

Now, it’s personal.

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The Commute

I think a lot while I drive. It’s one of those times when I can organize my thoughts.

In hindsight, it probably wasn’t the wisest idea to handcuff Red Court vampires and bring them to a police precinct. I had given them a chance to walk away, but they wouldn’t have it. And now they were three, one of their number nothing more than ash in the hospital.

But arriving at the precinct, we had much larger problems. With the coroner on route, things had taken a turn. The officers had restrained the perpetrator, who looked like he was jonesing for another hit. Karina and Rena had him taken away to an interrogation room while I examined the deceased.

I’d heard stories of him. Brave, a bit reckless but dedicated to his cause. John spoke of him over the years, as the young man had been his boss, but I’d not really met the man. When I saw his dead eyes and took his pulse, however, it slammed home that I never would. Not now.

Multiple stab wounds. Massive organ trauma. Time of death for Carlos Ramirez was called off the watch of an officer in the cell.

Rena knelt down and looked him over for any evidence while I worked to get him ready for the coroner. She left the cell with much more purpose than she entered, or so it seemed to me. She stormed into the interrogation room with Karina right behind her.

In no time at all, Rena and Karina brought the junkie out. Karina sent him to be booked while Rena walked to their squad car with me. Karina met us there, frustrated and cursing into her phone. John wasn’t picking up at his house. We were headed to the Tenderloin to find a doctor.

During the ride across town, John called. He was in a panic. The call was short but one thing was clear: Fang was missing. This usually got John “all sorts of riled up” as he explained it. Karina wasn’t happy but dialed another number, and starting speaking in Russian, to which Rena seemed uninterested.

If only she spoke it. I was quite interested when she mentioned her brother Vasily and if he had seen Fang.

When she got off the phone, we had a bit of a chat. She knows how I feel about children in danger. And yet, she insists we talk to this doctor first. I bit my tongue and held back, for now. If anyone was holding Fang against his will, they’d have all too warm a welcome coming.

The clinic was standard fair for the downtrodden district. As soon as we walked in, I saw them. The suffering masses. I couldn’t stand by and not help. Karina and Rena saw about finding this doctor while I got the paperwork filled out to get some sick people on the road to mending.
Karina got another call from John while neck deep in paperwork. He told her something that upset her, but I didn’t catch it. She finishes the call as I headed into the back with a mother and three kids to get them treated. I remember seeing Karina and Rena stop a man on his way out of the clinic but I didn’t see his face.

At least, right away.

I heard a commotion while I was in the exam room, which with Karina is never a good thing. I looked over the mother and children, an easy diagnosis, and got them what they needed to get well. I bid them good day and ran out of the clinic. I exited the building to find John, in all his western wear, watching Karina and Rena chases someone down the street. I followed suit.

Karina and Rena chased the doctor into an alley, trying to get him to submit to arrest, for what reason I had no idea. John made the earth grab the poor bastard, and that’s when I saw the flesh mask slip on him, revealing the monstrosity beneath.

I have to say, it was hard. Knowing what those Red Court things did to me, to my Bethany…I almost lost it. It would have been so easy, to charge in, change and tear that doctor apart. The brick walls would have stopped the heat from setting fire to much else than what I intended.

I settled for tossing a garbage can, which, as it turns out did the job. After some struggle, Rena and Karina put the Red Court on the ground. John wanted to know what the issue in the jail was with the coroner. While Karina wanted to keep it from him, I’ve seen how that ends up. John lost it a bit.

I held him back while he had his verbal piece with Karina. He lashed out. My nose let out a loud crack.

The steam went out of him after that. I don’t think he noticed it mending after I straightened it out. Karina got the Red Court doctor back in the world of the awake. He put the mask back on when Karina put the fear of the law in him.

That and me standing behind her.

And her description of me getting angry and how he wouldn’t like me that way. (I always liked Red Hulk better than Green Hulk as a kid, who knew?)

He went away easy enough, with zip ties on his hands. They drove off to the precinct, leaving John and I in the alley.

He told me we were going to find Fang. I nodded and took off my shirt.

The fog was coming in nicely. A perfect night for a swing around the bay.

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Closing Time
Warden Westone "shares" with a local bartender.

Never goes like you expect it to, eh?

And why should it. I learned long ago that the universe just wants to take a piss on us.

What? Hells yes I want another drink, boy. I didn’t come here for the view.

Like I was saying, things weren’t going like I expected.

I told you about that ornery little Chinaman I brought down to his aunt? No? Well, the higher ups didn’t like it and decided to pay yours truly a visit. Luccio herself came down, with some young punk named Ramirez. Said I should of taken care of things differently. Should have taken his head, and not bothered with anything else. Yeah, I said head! But hey, I was just trying to avoid another vampire war.

What? Never mind what that is. Give me another drink.

But while I’m chatting with my coworkers, some gook mooks show and shove guns at us. Oh, that was fun. They didn’t know they were dealing with three grade-A wardens and Fang, a young man that packs serious clout.

So, after that party, I call in some friends: a Russian cop who can be a real bitch and some sand-lover raised by leprechauns.

Apparently they got issues of their own because as soon as they show up, the lady is whining that she needs to tie the Chinese mob into an attack on her family, while the Iraqi has concerns about a run-in with a militant group of do-gooders who have a hard-on for phallic weaponry.

So I tells them, All I want is the kid. You know, the Chinaman. The little bastard that was throwing fire? You sure I didn’t tell you that story already? Anyway, he’s part of the mob, so I told the broad we could rub his grubby little hands all over some pistol that was used to kill her cousin, or uncle, or someone. But I tell her right now I need some muscle to help get the kid away from his nun-aunt.

Hey! Nuns are scary and I needed all the help I could get. So I tell her we need muscle, so she turns into a wolf.

Didn’t I tell you to stop asking stupid questions? I don’t interrupt your stories! Now, get me another drink.

So, with Fang watching the back, cop-lady turns into a wolf, and when they don’t let us in, Tariq—Tariq? The Irish-Iraqi dude. Turns into a big brass demon? Look, I know I told you about him. Anyway, he Hulk’s his way past the door, I have to talk tough to get past some Chinaman priest, and walk in to talk to Abbess Julie herself.

Um, nothing much happened there. I mean, I told her I had a job to do, and that I was trying to be civil. She completely understood of course. I have a way with the ladies, you know. Don’t give me that look, I do!

While I was chatting her up, the bitch and the demon—would you stop looking at me like that?—sniff around, and find our little Chinaman. After a scuffle, in which he throws fire and I think Tariq gets all wingy—I was outside at this point, and nuns are scary, remember…

…What? Closing time?

Well shit, give me one more for the road.

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December 11, 2012 - A Murder in Nob Hill
In Which Some Ghouls Are Encountered

On a foggy San Francisco night, an ambulance roars out of the darkness. It pulls up at the UCSF Medical Center emergency entrance, to be met by an ER team, including Tariq O’Shaunessy. A patient is wheeled out, one Jennifer Dawes, a victim of multiple gunshot wounds to the back. Karina Borovsky follows quickly behind, trying unsuccessfully to get the patient to stay with them. Ms. Dawes may be the only eyewitness to a murder in Nob Hill.

She codes on the way to the O.R. Tariq manages to quickly get her into surgery, extracting three .45 rounds from her chest cavity and saving her life. She recovers in the Med Center’s ICU. Borvsky and Tariq wait for her to awaken.

Meanwhile, White Council Warden John Westone and his ward, Fang Tian, stumble across a member of a Ghoul clan that the White Council has had them tracking for the last few days. They’ve found him shortly after a series of gunshots, and they give chase as the creature rushes past. Westone fires at the Ghoul, winging him, giving them a trail of blood to follow, but the creature itself moves too fast for them to keep up. Fang takes a few moments to collect some of the Ghoul’s blood, and quickly constructs a tracking spell – a mood ring that gets warmer or colder as they follow their quarry’s trail.

When Jennifer Dawes awakens, Karina and Tariq take the opportunity to get what information they can out of her. She tells them that she saw two men arguing on the street as she walked home from her work shift, one in a suit, the other in plain jeans and a jacket. They yelled at each other in some other language. It sounded like Russian. Then, a gun went off, and the man in the suit went down. Dawes screams and runs, but another shot takes her down, and that’s the last thing she remembers.

With that information, Tariq and Karina head off to the crime scene. They arrive a short time later, and wait for the Crime Scene Unit to finish photographing and cataloging evidence. Karina shifts into wolf-form, ad she and Tariq take a few moments to sniff around the scene. Karina’s able to get some distinct scents. The first victim, the man in the suit, she identifies as a likely member of the Vory v Zakone, an organization that her mother, Natalia, is a member of. She also figures out where Ms. Dawes was shot, and it turns out she was moved several yards before she wound up in the location the police had found her. A third person, smelling of Middle-Eastern food and rotten meat had also been on the scene. Likely to be the shooter. And lastly, wafting in off the sea breeze, was the unmistakable smell of whiskey. John’s brand. He and Fang had to be in the area somewhere.

Fang and John are tracking the Ghoul down when they meet up with Karina and Tariq. After a brief exchange (with Fang being acutely aware of Karina’s state of undress when she shifted form to speak), the four of them team up to track down the creature. It fled into the sewers, of course. Difficult terrain for tracking. Fang’s spell got them a good long way into the tunnels before the running drainage water ground it out, and even Karina’s wolf senses couldn’t keep up once the scent was gone in the water. Then they spotted them – two Ghouls, poised to ambush them, hid just at the very edge of the magical light that John was providing.

There was a brief tussle. One Ghoul went down in a blaze of John’s magical fire. The second was rendered helpless between Karina’s bites, Tariq’s flames and a bullet from John. Fang, though, ran in fear from the fire when his old phobia got the best of him. Covered from sight by a Veil, he fled headlong into the sewer system, quickly getting lost.

Karina offers to track the boy down while Tariq and John question the Ghoul. After some – less than gentle – persuasion, the Ghoul spills that they’d been contracted to work for some cheapskate Russian named Chenko not long ago, and had set up shop in an old warehouse near Dogpatch. Their questions answered, Tariq burns the creature to ash, and they set off after the other two.

In the tunnels, Karina quickly manages to lose Fang’s scent. Turned around, confused and lost, she stumbles across a ladder, and finds herself in one of the ritzy neighborhoods of Nob Hill. Naked. She tries to keep to the shadows, but it isn’t long before Jenkins, a patrol officer of the SFPD, spots a naked woman sneaking around on the street, flashes his lights, and then… recognizes her. She manages to talk him into not reporting her, and has him drop her off at Tariq’s car.

Fang, meanwhile, has also stumbled up to the surface, coincidentally immediately after the last Ghoul, this one the murderer of Chenko. He follows as the Ghoul heads southeast, toward the docks. It takes a few hours, but Fang follows the creature, unseen, to its temporary lair. Fang’s Veil fades as the sun rises, but he finds a good enough hiding place to not be caught by the Ghoul as it throws some meat in a toaster oven to defrost before slumping into a chair.

John, in the meantime, uses a hair of Fang’s that he’d managed to keep on him to hastily construct a tracking spell. He and Tariq find their way out to where the boy ran off to, discovering the warehouse as the sun comes up, clearing the spell away. They waste no time in kicking down the door. The Ghoul ducks behind the beat-up chair, his .45 at the ready.

Karina arrives at the Chenko crime scene. She has to break Tariq’s car window, but she retrieves her phone and belongings. Before Jenkins leaves, the police radio crackles out an all-call; shots fired at 1550 Hyde Street, the restaurant that Natalia and the rest of the Vory frequent in the area. Checking her phone, Karina sees multiple missed calls from her mother, but only two messages. The first asks her to come to the restaurant to discuss the Chenko investigation. The last is more urgent, and cut off by a peal of automatic gunfire.

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November 28, 2012 - City Creation

Howdy, folks. Shaun here, the GM for Fog City Blues. You probably won’t see many posts from me here, but I wanted to go ahead and jump in for the first blog post. I’m terrible at these, though, so bear with me.

After a brief discussion about what game we wanted to play, our little group decided on trying a campaign of The Dresden Files RPG from Evil Hat. What’s on the Wiki is what we’ve got so far. We’ll probably be playing proper next week, at which point I’ll be turning over the writing of the session reports to the players (Hope y’all are reading this: I’m giving you homework).

Anyway, hopefully we’ll have an interesting run of this game. It’s been a while since I’ve run something with this traditional of a bent, so hopefully my skillz are up to snuff. In the meantime, take your time to check out the cast of characters and the info in the wiki.

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