"When I am finished," she says I, she does not give away Tamsin or Tamsin's friend, "I will take your head as a prize and keep your skull as a gift to present to one of the mystics of my tribe, should one prove deserving of the honor. Your skin, however: of that I will take the largest identifiable piece that is left, and I will have it delivered to whoever your master is."
Avery's smile comes back. "'Nice' is an archaic word for 'precise, tidy, neat'. I think my way sounds quite nice indeed."
The spring thaw finally came, but the long winter 2012-13 left Denver a contested city. Vampires on all sides of the Jyhad are running around Denver like chickens with their heads cut off after a recent and harrowing Crusade by the Sabbat. Meanwhile vestiges of the former Camarilla stronghold in the city remain resilient as ever thanks to a steady supply of reinforcements from an undead political machine. Accounts of either side's numbers vary. As the conflict grinds to a stalemate even the Independents and Anarchs that remain bicker as to which side they should back in order to end up in the good graces of the victors.
The Sabbat: Nowhere to Run To Baby! Nowhere to Hide!
Following decades of relative silence (other than the 1931 diablerization of Henrietta in Rags, the former Primogen of the Nosferatu and a venerated Elder of the Clan) the Sabbat gambit was initiated.
As Denver rose to new heights, consolidating outlying territories and industries into a powerhouse of the West, the Sword of Caine initiated aggression against nearby cities in Crusades of varying success: Colorado Springs, Cheyenne, Grand Junction, Omaha, Santa Fe and Amarillo. While individual packs continued playing the part of hyenas feeding on scraps, the Sabbat hierarchy maintained an interest in Denver.
The Camarilla clans managed to defend the city in a war of attrition. Time and again relying on their greater resources among the kine and supply lines controlled by elders abroad, it seemed the city would only grow as a bastion of Camarilla dominance in the Mountain States.
Nothing could portent what came in recent nights. It began with reports from the Nosferatu and Anarchs, packs testing the boundaries of the city and trying to drum up new recruits. This was nothing out of the ordinary, but very suddenly the Sabbat seemed to worm their way from every hole, crevice and biker bar, entire packs of shovelheads entering the city in box trucks. Exercising a terrifying store of intelligence on Elysium and locations of havens throughout the city, vampires of all ages fell in the coming winter nights.
The Ivory Tower was shaken to its very foundations, but did not crumble.
Sabbat packs patrolled conduits of public and private transportation. Threats against the Setites and Giovanni kept the Independent Clans unwilling to test if the unpredictable Cainites were bluffing. This lead to many Kindred of the Camarilla fleeing Denver only to meet the Final Death or Amaranth (diablerie) nearby, and numerous Independents who would've otherwise left town to wait out the violence were trapped within city limits.
But the Camarilla that remain are those willing to stand and fight, and the Sabbat has only culled the herd, leaving a more finely tuned engine of progress in its place.
The Camarilla: Sore as Hell, and They Haven't Even Lost Yet
The confluence of Sabbat packs than descended on the city were more than happy to rend Camarilla elders and coteries. But when the nightly battles slowed and packs continued losing members, the Sabbat leadership was unable to effectively coordinate an extended siege.
Some disparate packs bloated on the glory of diablerie and conquest were already looking for the next feast of violence. They left, either unwilling or too undisciplined for the chore of an extended occupation. Those that remain, while focused in their goal, lack the sheer numbers that the Sabbat often rely on to win battles.
These weaknesses are compounded by the state of the city they found. Prince Winthrop and Kindred loyal to him initiated contingencies to make sure their enemies in the Sword of Caine entered a domain transformed into the Kindred equivalent of burned bridges and salted fields.
Through last ditch efforts in the government of Denver curfews were implemented, citizens' watch groups were formed, oversight committees rooted out corruption, many areas of The Rack where Sabbat would be expected to find sustenance were the target of health officials and fire code enforcement, and urban renewal programs were initiated. Through these means and others, Denver was transformed by a groundswell of civic-mindedness and reform into a very inhospitable city to the inhumane Sabbat.
Newly installed law enforcement officials are taking a tough stance on crime, including many of the Giuliani-era practices that allowed the Camarilla to retake New York in the early 2000s. At the same time, the vast majority of Sabbat are unprepared to face such a threat, lacking the Camarilla's proficiency influencing humanity. The tacticians among the Cainites worry these socioeconomic booby traps could also serve as a backdoor for the Ivory Tower's total reclamation of the city.
There are No Independents in Foxholes
The Assamites had been few and far between, and most who stood for the Camarilla left the city, either because their contracts had been completed or because their employers' unlives were terminated. The few that remain of the assassins are either so very desperate for work they would seek it in a contested city, or so very good at their work that there are few other places in North America they would rather be.
One can wonder at the motivations of the unaligned Gangrel of Denver, but all agree the warring Sects can't afford not to court whatever members of the clan they can. As for those aforementioned motivations, they are often as interminable as those of the wild animals they fetishize; each of the Outlanders is a species onto itself, its habits and predilections as divergent.
The Followers of Set were incensed by the actions of the Camarilla, gridlocking their amassed influence and interests in one fell swoop. Some blame the Sabbat for messing up a good thing, other blame the Camarilla for not tucking tail and handing over the city. They are impatiently waiting to see who will pay for their lost income, though how long they will defer the debt and in what way the serpents will strike is anyone's guess. Of course, that doesn't mean the Followers of Set don't gorge themselves on boons in the ensuing conflict, sheltering vampires into indentured servitude and milking them dry for every night's protection from the dangers of a city at war.
A small population of Giovanni remain. That enough is reason for worry. Normally the macabre family of undead would have gotten out of the way and returned to pick up the pieces, leaving some to wonder if they helped to finance the stalemate the city finds itself in. They explain that they were caught unawares, just as the Camarilla, and did not want to risk getting caught in the crossfire.
Stories alternate as to Ravnos involvement, some accusing the illusory clan of smuggling in Sabbat and others that they in fact acted as coyotes for Camarilla reinforcements and bloodstores for Ventrue of particularly unique palettes. None have stepped forward to settle the matter, though as hostilities die down vampires call for an investigation.
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