Drinking & Dragons

Vat:09 The Postman Always Kills Twice

From Drinking and Dragons

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Starring: Steve.gif Steve, Koz.gif Koz, Muscle.gif Amiri, Paulineicon.gif Pauline, and Joseph.gif Joseph
Guest Starring: Sophia, Mailman
Challenge: Sangrophage
Location: Several homes in McKeesport
Date Played: 26 September 2012


Recoveries

Paulineicon.gif Pauline: I can't say I'm terribly happy about waking up in a hospital, but it gives me a chance to think. Once the painkillers clear, anyway. I spend a long time thinking about what, exactly, it is that I'm doing here. I signed on to the Vat with the hope of making the world, or at least the 'Burgh, a better place. And for weeks now, I've been chasing superspies. It's all a very abstract, not like rescuing children from were-creatures. I also think I need to be much more careful when dealing with these sorts of nasty creatures.

Joseph.gif Joseph: While most of our posse was laid up in the hospital, the senior VAT members do us a kindness and visit without a word o' work. Say what ya will about 'em, they do have a might bit of human decency about 'em. Once recovered, we also got ourselves a chance to meet with team 1. They are hard men and remind me not to cross 'em. Interestin'ly enough, not a one among 'em is anything special, if ya gather my meanin'.

New Pro Bono Case

Paulineicon.gif Pauline: I'm still a little bit shaky after all of this, but when the bosses lay out the problem, I'm all ears. People are missing in McKeesport. Not just one or two, but over thirty- and in two weeks. Obviously, something's very wrong, the cops are flummoxed, so we need to go look into it.

Joseph.gif Joseph: We're told that 31 folks have gone missin' in the last two weeks, and most o' those folks be poor. I put my hat to my chest in a moment of silence, hopin' that we find at least some of 'em.

Gathering Facts

Paulineicon.gif Pauline: The best place to start is with the victims. We start with the lonely old lady with a pile of cats. The lady and the cats are no where to be found, but a gigantic pile of crap is. Literally, this lady was a hoarder who kept her depends. A combination of dust masks and baby-wipes keep us from losing our lunch. Yes, I keep baby-wipes in a zippy in my purse, and no, I haven't changed diapers in years. But you have no idea how handy it is to have a pile of wet-wipes readily available.

While there, we discover strange little pebbles in the litter box. They're fragile as anything, and while trying to collect some as samples, we discover: they're eggs.

A few more spot checks yields more of the same. The disappearances and the eggs tie to packages that were delivered.

Joseph.gif Joseph: It is amazin' to me that folks kin have so much much yet still collect more n' more. I commune wit the area and find a pussycat. Seems the woman went missin' about five days ago, judgin' from the post. After a while of excavatin', we discover eggs in the litter box. I take another look at the cat to make sure that I wasn't missin' a monster in our midst and it meows defiantly.

We continue our investigation in some locations, them poor newlyweds, and we're able to get me enough details to start figurin' out this here puzzle. After a long go at the library and my memory, I'm able to cull some details of our creatures:

  • They be called Carnaphages or Sanguinphages, dependin' on location, mostly northern europe
  • They are confused often enough for vamps or ghouls, and like to swallow whole.
  • Have a limited mind readin' capacity and are able to shroud themselves in visual-only illusions
  • They have the hardest bones of any critter I've read about
  • Eggs are laid after a meal and need fer it to be cold in order to hatch.

Team 7 Assembles

Paulineicon.gif Pauline: How many times have we run face first into something nasty with absolutely no back-up? I'm not sure either- I think getting shot too many times has damaged my memory. Old as I am, I've learned something: the team rallies team seven, Vat, Inc.

We lay out the problem, and our best suspect: the mailman. It's a bit of a stretch, because Joseph lays out the details of Sangrophages, and while intelligent, they can't talk. It's hard to impersonate a mailman without talking.

Fighting the Sangrophage

Paulineicon.gif Pauline: But that also gives us a great chance to confirm whether the mailman is a talker or not. We essentially ambush him with riot shields and truncheons. His name is Luke, and he's actually a pretty nice guy, n'at. He actually has a sense of what's going on, but doesn't want to be a suspect. We trail him, at a distance, to see if we can spot what's going on.

And we do: the Sangrophage impersonates one of the residents, accepts the package, and when the coast is clear, she does a quick-change. She turns into the mailman, and then goes to deliver the package. Once we have confirmation, we swarm the bitch, ready to kill. And we do.

Unfortunately, I can't hit a toilet while I'm sitting on it, these days, so I'm basically useless. Joseph gets torn up something awful. We do bring the creature down, but not before Joseph gets gutted a nice-looking old lady opens the door and dies of a heart attack. Joseph we can stabilize, but the old lady's bought it.

We call an ambulance, get the hell out of there, along with the sangrophage's corpse. We didn't save everyone, but this thing won't be killing ever again. And with team 7 on the lookout, we'll hopefully get the eggs before winter comes, meaning there won't be another outbreak next year.

And I've also got a dead sangrophage. According to lore, their bones are super hard. It's not metallurgy, but maybe I can recall enough materials science to find a use for this.

Joseph.gif Joseph: We lay us a trap for the postman. I stay to the back to keep an eye on the thing while the others get up close n' personal. As the critter rips into me, I regret that I wasn't far enough back. It that fleeting half second I make my peace with my maker, and fall inta darkness.

The Sangrophage Itself

Sangrophage.jpg

(facts remembered listed here)

  • Intelligent
  • Shape shifter DM-d20.jpg DM Autoillusionist
  • Eats, lays eggs, and leaves
  • Eggs need to gestate over a cold winter
  • Bones are incredibly hard

Sophia.gif Sophia Dissected a freshly hatched one.

DM-d20.jpg DM I wanted you guys to see a quick stat block for a monster, and this is a good one to share:

  • physical stats all 3
  • mental stats all 2
  • Claw attacks d8*Str [cf point rapier], Bite attacks d12*Str+1 [cf greataxe] but imposes dodge penalty
  • primary skills 3 (ie, brawling, dodge, stealth, notice, acrobatics)
  • knowledge/social/technical skills 0-1
  • other skills 2
  • +50% damage from fire
  • life points 100~150

The Night has Never Been Darker (Not part of the session)

Muscle.gif Amiri: We can't do much with Pauline in the hospital. I decided to take some leave time and track down the drug dealers.

I talk to my friend, Detective Collins, and see if he needs some help breaking down some people in the holding cells. We have this thing where I pretend to be an inmate/detainee and either scare someone straight or make them confess. Knowing the chainsaw meth-head was in there, there was a good change he would bit and send me in a cell with him. Well, he bit and I found who and where this person was. Evidently the seller is some guy name D-bone and the person that makes the meth is called Zakarian. They were located out near Hershey, so it would be a bit of a drive to get there and out of this jurisdiction.

After dropping Steve off at his place, I found some inspiration. He had these comic sitting around and I found one called "Vigilante." While he excused himself, I read it and got some ideas.

I ran to Anthony Arms and got a slimline vest. I also went to Play-it-Again and picked up some used padding. Luckily, one of Pauline's kids was good with a needle and I had her sew me up a nice little costume. I paid her, of course.

I made my way down to Hershey and begun my search. It was a bit harder than expected, and it took me over a week to find the meth-house. I busted through the door and took D-bone's thugs by surprise. I wasn't able to take them down before a few shots were fired. It was a good thing I got the vest since one of them had a .45 trained at me.

The firing tipped off D-bone and he was able to prepare himself. All the preparation couldn't help him, though. He was just some scrawny guy from the hood holding a gun with a shaky hand. I ran like lightning to him and he went down with ease. Zakarian was a different matter altogether. The best way I could describe him was a Steve that could actually control his fire. He sheathed himself in flames and was quite formidable. It ended when I shoved him into this barrel labeled "red phosphorous" and it tipped into a large pool of standing water. The explosion took out a corner of the basement and I barely made it out before it was rubble.

When the fire department came and drug out the survivors from the building, they reported that it was caused by "some nigga' dressed dark as midnight." I stayed in the shadows, seeing if Zakarian would be recovered. He wasn't. I don't have time to chase loose ends, so I just hope that he is too under rubble to be recovered at this time. The thing I least need is a pyro with a grudge.

DM-d20.jpg DM VAT reimburses your travel expenses and approves of your activities, and asks you to file a report on-file. ("We really need to get some Fed monies." -Jorgen) [And this is why I give some XP for wiki updates even for missed sessions.]

Paulineicon.gif Pauline's absence for two sessions: I'm in the backyard working at the forge when the phone rings. Something tells me to pay attention to it, so I go running back into the house with a red-hot piece of barstock held in a pair of tongs. Miracle I didn't burn the place down. I get the phone, and it's Sammy's guidance councilor. The councilor has managed to get Sammy in as a candidate for a summer enrichment program out in Grove City- one of those college/high school mutualism deals. It's a great opportunity for her, but it's not a done deal- she's gotta go meet with a rep and interview, and basically go through the college application process to prove she's qualified or serious or whatever.

"Oh," the councilor says, "There was a bus trip for this, but we didn't think there was room for Samantha," etc. etc. Long story short, I'm on the hook for doing all of the leg-work for this. It also means that Sammy's going to be gone for two weeks during the summer, but that's not too bad. I can handle the house alone for that long.

I call Vat, arrange a little time off, and that's just about when everything goes wrong. The car breaks down, but I've still got my ex-husband's AAA card, so that's not so bad. We get a tow, and I throw a rental on my Master Card. I have no idea how I'm going to pay that bill, but whatever. We get out to Grove City, Sammy nails the interview, gets all the paperwork squared away, and really impresses the college rep. I'm sure he was blowing some smoke, but I saw the interview- she really did a great job. She's getting her shit together in a way I would never have believed a few years ago.

While we're out there, I take a minute to pray to Brigid, and a big part of what I get back is an "I told you so" about the car. Nice. We're only half an hour out from Pittsburgh when I pull the rental over to help a nice older couple in the breakdown lane. It's apparently the week for car troubles, but they just ran out of gas. As I give them a ride to get a can of gas, I find out that they're actually looking to sell the car and tour the country in an RV. They've already got the RV, and were actually on their way back from a used car lot that tried to screw them over. Long story short, I scrapped the beater, scraped together some pennies, and they cut me an incredible deal on a 1985 Topaz sedan. Okay, that doesn't actually sound that incredible, but it runs well and aside from a sticky clutch, the only problem is the rear fender is rusting pretty badly. There's no way I could have gotten anything that cheaply.

This little day trip to Grove City really involved several days of prep while getting Sammy squared away, plus I'm still a little banged up from all the trips to the hospital. I missed a lot of work, but I don't imagine anything too interesting happened while I was out.