January 23rd, 2018 – January 27th, 2018
The plan was simple. Get into the Casino Wein in Vienna and make contact with the criminals who had kidnapped Luigi Cardellini and exchange the forged Dracula Dossier for Cardellini. Whatever the kidnappers had planned, they were keeping their plan tight.
Ilari Vassyl and Vicente Rojas were positioned in a hotel across the street from the casino while Cal Morrison awaited in their white van outside, monitoring activity. Franco Selvaggio would go inside and Wolfgang Fechtner would act as backup. Almost immediately, Cal noticed another van pull up which had all the trappings of an Edom team. Cal was unclear what Edom was doing here or whether or not they were running the operation. But Cal had one asset in play that nobody else was even aware of: he had connections in the casino. The casino manager owed him and the CIA and he used this opportunity to call in that favor. A well-placed, trained asset was positioning herself inside the casino with training in electronic surveillance and tradecraft, awaiting further instructions.
As wandered the casino, wearing the special clothes he was told to wear, he was eventually approached by a mysterious figure who invited him upstairs for ‘high stakes’ games. The mysterious figure, later identified as Jakub Pekar, led Franco to the elevator as Wolfgang watched the activities transpire. Pekar had the elevator guard take them to the top of the casino where only the highest of rollers operated and the amount of money won or lost was legendary. Fortunately, this was exactly where Cal had his asset positioned.
Arriving upstairs, Franco was brought to a shadowy back room with a dealer and several other individuals who may or may not have been playing cards. Whereas many of the figures in the room seemed nefarious and ‘connected,’ there were several that stood out. The man at the head of the table introduced himself as Hamilton Hoyt, a former CIA operative who had gone rogue, forming his own criminal intelligence network, The Union, as well as his bodyguard Athena Mykanos. But most shocking was the appearance of Elizabeth Cavanaugh, someone who was once close to Franco but clear was the one who had sold him out and compromised Luigi Cardellini. However, Elizabeth also told him that she had tried to warn him back in London when they met at the Hooker’s Boot that she wanted him in on a project but he rebuffed her. Perhaps next time he would take her more seriously.
The negotiations were tense and during the discussion, Franco asked for a sign of good faith from the ruthless Hoyt. It was at that point that she showed a laptop with a video feed of a man tied to a chair and a bag over his head. A woman (later identified as Tekla Lueschech) stood guard over him. It was at this point that Cal’s gamble paid off – the card dealer in the room, on Cal’s payroll, fed the feed to Cal out in the van. Cal was then able to begin to trace the location of the video which was a warehouse across town. He immediately dispatched Ilari and Vicente to the location to release the man.
Back in the high stakes room, Hoyt demanded to know where the Dracula Dossier was and Elizabeth Cavanaugh also tried to push, a little more softly. To prove his point, Hoyt made a call to have one of Luigi’s fingers removed. This prompted Franco to alert Wolfgang, who had the forged Dracula Dossier to come up to the high stakes room.
After Wolfgang arrived and showed them the Dracula Dossier – which nobody in the room noticed was a forgery – it was then that Hoyt invited everyone to an elevator and took them to the basement where they encountered a man tied to a chair, with a bag over his head, guarded by a gunman.
Meanwhile, across town, Vicente and Illari found the warehouse where the feed was coming from where they assumed Luigi was being kept. Breaching the warehouse, they quickly encountered the guard, Lueschech. After shooting Vicente, Illari jumped in and fought with the brutal assailant, giving Vicente enough time to move through the warehouse and find Luigi. Vicente removed the hood and untied him and then they all made their escape while Lueschech was stunned under a create.
Back at the casino, Hoyt removed the hood from Luigi (a second Luigi?) and Franco seemed grateful even though Luigi seemed to be missing a finger. Hoyt then released them through a basement exit. Outside, Cal saw the presumed Edom van on the move as he got the call from Vicente that Luigi was safe. When Cal called Franco and discovered that they, also, had Luigi, Cal held off his panic and subtly informed Franco of the problem.
Cal coordinated the extraction of Franco, Wolfgang and Luigi and pulled up with the van, avoiding the Edom team. Wolfgang took over driving duties as they began to navigate the tight streets, avoiding the Edom van. But it was not long before they noticed they were also being tracked by one of Hoyt’s agents, Mykanos, trying to find them with her sportscar. Likely Hoyt had been alerted to the liberation of the other Luigi across town.
The cat and mouse pursuit that Mykanos gave them was stressful as Wolfgang realized he was dealing with someone his equal or better. However, just as she was able to intercept him and the team, Wolfgang changed tactics and slammed into her car, putting her off balance. But it was at this point that the Luigi in the van, dropped his ‘disguise,’ as he revealed himself to be a ravenous vampire with fangs. What occurred next was purely nightmarish.
At a breakneck speed with reckless abandon, Wolfgang drove the van down the streets of Vienna, quickly trying to evade not only Mykanos, but also the Vienna police. Of course, this was made all the more difficult as the vampire in the back of the van ravenously attacked Cal and Franco, while taking swipes at Wolfgang. The gunfire inside the van as well as the shots that were taken by Mykanos in pursuit made it a miracle that they were not killed. Of course, when Vicente, Illari and the real Luigi came onto the scene firing from their own car, the entire area was utter chaos. Mykanos lost control of her vehicle and Vicente did, as well, allowing Wolfgang the room to smash into the police but also slide the van with such force that the vampire was tossed from the back. Of course, by this point the cars were destroyed, they were taking on heat and needed to go underground. They quickly made their way to a safehouse that Wolfgang recalled from several years ago and figured they would be safe for a day or two.
They rested, regrouped and talked it out. Luigi demanded answers of what was going on and Franco let him in on details – more details than Cal was likely comfortable with. It was Luigi that then revealed that he had been lured by Elizabeth Cavanaugh and turned over to Hamilton Hoyt’s organization, The Union. Of course, since this was the first that Cal was hearing of Hoyt’s involvement, this raised concerns, as Cal and Hoyt had a shared past in the CIA. If Hoyt and The Union was involved, this certainly raised the stakes of what was going on. The good news was that Luigi was committed to throwing his support behind the operation. Whereas he may or may not have believed the strange stories of Vampires and other strange paranormal activity, he knew something was going on and wanted to help. A brief once over, told Cal that Luigi was competent and Franco reinforced the idea that Luigi had experience in the world of crime and espionage.
Monitoring the news and the various police bands, Interpol and other local authorities were on the lookout for Wolfgang as well as Franco and Luigi. Someone behind the scenes was pushing their faces and identities. When Cal did a back trace to see who or what was responsible, he found that it was someone back in London, likely GCHQ. His first thought was it was Lord Godalming. Nevertheless, Cal tried to push back and lower the trouble they were facing, by trying to bury the alerts pushed upon them by unknown forces.
The group then decided they had to go to Bucharest and meet up with Natalia Constantin, as she had a cache of supplies and weapons for them set up by Radu Leutner. Constantin’s reputation was nefarious and that she was likely crazy but she was an excellent connection for arms and equipment. The trip was uneventful but upon getting to the rough neighborhood outside of Bucharest where they were to meet Constantin, they entered the strip club where she was waiting.
Getting inside and approaching Constantin, she was already high on Vint, her drug of choice, shooting dice with her underlings. It was clear she had a solid relationship with the staff at the club and was generous with her money. She attempted to shake Cal down for a higher rate but didn’t push it when he endeared himself to her, especially when he offered her more Vint, especially higher quality than she had been taking. After making pleasantries with her and the promise of going down to Bucharest for a far more wild time, she took them outside, opened her rig on the side of the road and handed off their crates, in full view of anyone who wanted to see, demonstrating she seemed to work without fear of anyone at all.
With their equipment in hand, they now planned to work more of the Bucharest angle as there were numerous leads to follow up on.