Chapter 1: Ante Bellum
Session 2: Growing Pains
One week passed between being introduced to the Prince and meeting again. Each sire appeared to the childe early in the evening with a sealed letter that contained an address and a keycard. The group gathered one by one at the Elysium that the Prince had designated for their tasks.
First to arrive was Wil, who surveyed the nondescript door set into a tall brick building in the financial district. It had one dim light above it, and a small gray box beside the door with a red light. He swiped the keycard across the box and the light turned green. The loud shunk and buzz of an electronic lock sounded off and Wil walked into a short hallway with a pair of dim sconces on the wall.
The space was an office suite, with a desk near the far left wall, a nautical picture hung above the chair behind it. There were two less impressive chairs sitting in front of the desk, and on the opposite side of the room was a conference table, 10 chairs and a speakerphone. In back is a galley kitchen and a door that exits to a long hallway running behind similar units and eventually outside. To the immediate left of the entry hallway is the restroom, and to the immediate right is another unexplored room. The rest of the group trickled in after Wil, Avi was the last in the door.
The group exchanged pleasantries and explored the space while they waited for further instructions. Keeper of Elysium Genevieve Baudin entered the office and introduced herself, then explained the basic rules of the Elysium. Shortly after she was finished Sheriff John LaGrange arrived and spoke to the group, explaining the expectations and limitations of their role investigating the cases he would soon hand them.
The coterie was to serve in an investigative capacity, they did not have the permission to attack or destroy any suspects in the course of the investigation. The coterie is not afforded special rights, they are to report their findings back to the Sheriff as they find substantial information. They’re also given leave to contact the Sheriff in the event they need specific resources.
The Sheriff then advises the group of their first case: 22 infants have turned up in the St. Louis City Medical Examiner’s office in the last 2.5 years due to exsanguination. The ME tagged the deaths as SIDS and buried all evidence of the lack of blood within the corpses. The Sheriff advised the group that he suspects it to be a Kindred culprit, due to the lack of marks on the bodies that could explain any other method of exsanguination. The group was horrified, and also outraged. How could the city ignore such a serious problem for so long?
The answer, the Sheriff said, was that the ME had been tasked for years with cleaning up Kindred messes and didn’t raise the concern about the infant deaths for more than 14 months after the start. The matter had been investigated unsuccessfully prior, said the Sheriff, to no avail. He was not specific about what that investigation entailed or who performed it. The Sheriff told the group that the St. Louis City ME had files on all of the infants tied to this case, and that to get started they needed to pick up these files. The Sheriff and the Keeper excused themselves after providing phone lines to contact them at.
Louis volunteered to go, since his badge and his existing relationship with the ME over the years as a homicide cop would negate inquiries about his visit. He went to retrieve the files and threatened the ME during the exchange. The ME was visibly rattled prior to his arrival, and this just put him further on edge. Once Louis had the files he returned to the office.
The group pored over the case files, noting the same suspicious lack of any markings that would explain the lack of blood. The group spent hours studying the data, until Avi was able to discern that each death took place around the new moon. There were missing dates, but those that were killed were always on the new moon. Questions persisted about the six dates that weren’t accounted for in the files. The group decided to pay a visit to the household of the latest victim, which was only two days prior
The group piled into Avi’s car, with Louis riding in his detective cruiser separately. The apartment was located in the middle of a rough neighborhood on the North side, and as Louis turned onto the street he noticed prostitutes and sentries at the entrance. He alerted the other car and they kept their distance. Louis parked 3 doors down from the address, the others a 1/2 block down and over.
Louis and Nikolai chose to directly speak with the mother of the infant, while Wil broke into the back door to investigate. Charlie and Avi watched for signs that they’d gathered undue attention or that someone was trying to escape through the back. Louis and Nikolai woke the woman and asked to speak to the mother. She allowed them in and in conversation noted that she’d gone out back to investigate a ruckus she thought was cats. When asked how long she was out back she was visibly confused and couldn’t provide a confident answer.
Wil successfully picked the locks on the back door and gained entry. He snuck through the house and into the baby’s room. After several minutes of looking in great detail at the crib he noticed a dried drop of blood stuck to the side of the crib, between the frame and the mattress. The rest of the room was empty, so he slipped out the back and texted Nikolai.
Charlie noticed two of the sentries making their way towards the house. She slipped around back at the same time that Avi and Wil came together at the base of the fire escape. Nikolai pretended to use the restroom and instead went and sampled the blood, using his Disciplines to trace the origin. The blood was human, and was particularly powerful in flavor.
Nikolai returned to the front room just after Louis had tried and failed to Dominate the mother into sleeping. They quickly exited the building, stopping momentarily to discuss interrogating the squatter in the hallway but decided instead to leave. As they exited the pair of sentries were standing in front of the building. Louis lead the way in-between them and Nikolai followed, getting in theri car pulling a U-turn and driving away. This distracted the sentries from the rest of the group, who were crossing the street half a block down to make it to the other car.
The group returned to the office and continued to go over the materials. Over the course of the next week Louis and Avi pursued answers in books, while Charlie Nikolai and Wil paid a visit to one of the other victims’ homes. A failed attempt to gain entry to the home and distract the resident by Charlie and Nikolai resulted in Wil having to gingerly make his way through the house, up the stairs and into the child’s bedroom. The nursery was cleaned out, with no obvious signs of breaking and entering or any lingering blood. Wil chose to jump down from the second story window instead of risk running into the homeowner.
The group continued to seek an explanation, or to see a pattern. The group notified the Sheriff and requested access to the St. Louis County ME. The meeting was arranged, and Louis was received coldly by the ME. Louis brought the files back and these filled in the remainder of the days. All of the deaths in the last 28 lunar cycles had happened in St. Louis City and County. The group also determined that all children who had a religious orientation noted were Christian and that they were all born at hospitals in the BJC system.
The group requested access to those systems from the Sheriff, who advised he would reconvene with them in 72 hours. Wil and Louis spoke to their sires about the case, while Nikolai, Avi and Charlie did not. Wil made an outreach for assistance to a specific asset. The session came to a close with the group waiting on those 72 hours to pass. Most of them received some pushback from their sire regarding the amount of time that this task consumed, most strongly from the Tremere and the Ventrue.