Last session, we ended with Luke and Zhishen in the middle of a Paranet meeting. Before any further discussion could begin, they were interrupted when some kind of gas began rising up from the restaurant below, along with the sounds of terrified screaming. While most of the locals panicked, Luke, Zhishen, Victor the bartender and Travis the Marshall leapt into action, securing the upper level and getting ready for a fight.
And a fight is what they got. While Fomor operatives assaulted the restaurant below, a swarm of enormous trilobite creatures climbed the stairs, quickly followed by a horrifying bi-pedal octopus creature. Earnest Creely quickly abandoned the fight by contorting his body to fit through the narrow windows and scampering down the outside wall like a wizard. No idea what his deal is, but his face is no longer the creepiest thing about him. Victor drew out a shotgun, but his aim turned out to be rather poor as he CONTINOUSLY grazed Zhishen and Luke with his shots, while doing nothing to his enemies. Carmen had to wrestle his gun away after awhile.
Travis showed his skills with his own gun but got overwhelmed and seriously injured by the trilobites, while Luke went toe-to-toe with the Octohead and wound up grapple for his troubles. Zhishen proved more effective with a broken wine bottle, and Chevsky (Zhishen’s school friend) showed his skill by using water magic to freeze Octohead in place for a bit. And here I thought he was just an extra. Speaking of magic, Vladimir Ravenloft didn’t seem to be living up to his boasts, so Luke shouted at him to get off his ass and start casting some spells. Ravenloft complied… by accidentally hexing all the lights in the club, adding to the chaos and panic.
After stopping Victor from repeatedly shooting his own allies, Carmen got in on the fight when she whipped up a Molotov cocktail and tossed it to Luke. Since he didn’t think setting the club on fire would do much to calm things down (though I suppose it would have made it easier to see), Luke charged down the stairs screaming and flung the Molotov at the first enemies he saw (triple invoking in the process for a huge attack). Those enemies proved to be 4 Fomor operatives, who were horribly burned by the assault… but so were the rest of the restaurant’s patrons. They were already on their way to being warped into some kind of inhuman barnacle monsters by the Fomor, but they were still alive, and Luke watched in horror as his attack burned them alive. Standing numbly by, Luke’s clothes caught fire. Victor rushed down the stairs with his own Molotov and threw it, finishing off the rest of the Fomor. But stunned though he was, Luke couldn’t help but notice that the Molotov seemed to have been aimed more at HIM than their foes.
Upstairs, Octohead was thawed out and causing more trouble. Travis passed out from his wounds, and Victor wound up shot when Zhishen tried his luck with Travis’s gun. Luke and Zhishen faced the monster alone, and Luke was completely useless against the creature, but Zhishen eventually took it down with another face full of broken glass. Downstairs, the fire department arrived and everyone settled in to wait for them to put out the fire and provide medical treatment. While Zhishen took care of Travis’s wounds, Luke confronted Victor.
Lifting him up and slamming him against the wall, with no concern for his fresh bullet wound, Luke demanded that Victor explain why he kept shooting at them during the fight. Victor then revealed that he was actually a Red Court vampire, but evidently he didn’t feel like fighting. He threw Luke aside and escaped.
After a day of rest, Professor Zhao Wong contacted his son Zhishen and told him and Luke to come to the Wong/Crowler Musuem of Parascience in the Gaslight district.
At the Museum, the duo was surprised to see U.S. Marshall and paranet member Travis Siege, who revealed himself to actually be a member of the Venatori Umbrorum, the same secret society that saved Luke Banner from being raped and murdered by a White Court vampiress a year and a half ago in Dallas. The Umbrorum turned out to be less friendly than he had hoped though. They proved to be extremely secretive, and mostly obsessed with their own questionable experiments. The group met the other members, a “civilized” ghoul named Sam, a doctor named Crowler, and Zhao Wong himself. It turned out that Zhishen’s father was the order’s Grandmaster, and that he had been living a secret double life for at least fifteen years, having fathered a daughter in California 14 years ago that Zhishen knew nothing about. Infected with vampirism, the daughter (Chloe Wong) was subjected to ruthless experiments all of her life in service of Wong’s hopes to create a “cure” for vampirism. A cure that seemed more and more like a biological weapon the more he talked about it.
Wong wanted Zhishen to take over his position and his research, as he was approaching death from some unspecified illness. He wanted both of them to join the Venatori and track down Chloe so he could continue his research, and capture more Red Court vamps for him to play around with. He also revealed that he was remotely piloting the soul-fire golem that Luke had encountered on his way into San Diego. “You owe me a new engine, asshole,” Luke told him. Zhao shrugged.
Though Zhishen was furious at his father’s betrayal of his family, he was browbeaten into accepting induction into the Venatori order. A ritual bloodletting was required, giving Wong access to his blood should he ever need to eliminate him in case of betrayal. Next, he approached Luke to take his blood. “Yeah, that’s not gonna happen,” Luke said.
Luke wanted nothing to do with these scumbags who only wanted to use him for his abilities and treat him like a slave in the process. He refused to join, and Wong told him that he would need to erase his memories of the meeting to keep their secrecy. Again, Luke refused, and Sam stepped in to try and teach him a lesson. Though Luke was easily overpowered, Luke was able to destroy the flesh-mask Sam wore, revealing him for the monster that he was. Sam laughed though, admiring his attitude, and told him he’d give him a week to decide whether or not he’d be willing to join. Luke nodded along, secretly planning to find the local Warden Nathaniel Draven and tell him that Wong was planning to break the laws of magic and invade his mind. Sam saw right through him though, and told him if he went near the Warden, he would kill him.
As the two friends left the museum, Luke summed up both of their opinions on the matter: “Dude, fuck your dad, and fuck his friends.”