May 20th, 2018 – May 24th, 2018
Following the events in Switzerland, the agents were on the run and lying low. Making their escape to England as they could hide out from the terrors they had witnessed, as well as engage in more leads, their first order or priority was tending to the serious wounds Illari Vasyl has endured at the hands of the undead horde. They entered him in a small hospital, under an assumed name and made their way to London, keeping a low profile as they knew there were forces that were looking for them. Their very presence was toxic to some individuals and the CCTV eyes of London were constantly watching. Franco Selvaggio said goodbye to Ximena Porte who needed to return to her employer, Omar Shakti in Brussels.
The team continued to lay low for a week, scouring news reports of anything interesting, as well as examining the endless leads and documents they had. In the end, they decided to go with something simple as their next order of business. They chose to investigate the Aytown Galleries to see if there was a connection with either the Van Helsing Cameo they had. That would be a good use of time.
Cal Morrison, Wolfgang Fechtner and Franco Selvaggio decided they would enter the gallery and see the situation, whereas Vicente Rojas would remain outside, acting as a lookout. When they entered, they encountered the owner of the gallery, Vivienne Aytown-Baptiste, the great-granddaughter of Francis Aytown, a background character from the novel, Dracula, and perhaps, a former central figure of the conspiracy. After all, it was Mr. Aytown who created one or more of the cameos.
Ms. Aytown-Baptiste seemed polite and was impressed by the level of knowledge Franco expressed, especially the artwork she had in the gallery, specifically the materials from eastern Europe. Though, both Cal and Wolfgang suspected there was more to her than met the eye. But whether it was a connection to Edom, Dracula, or something else was uncertain.
Outside, as Vicente watched as a lookout, he did notice some suspicious activity nearby. But when he went to investigate, he was intercepted by allies of the stranger who pulled him in an alley and threatened him, stating they were interested in someone else and he was to stay put. Vicente knew he had to handle the situation carefully.
Back in the gallery, Cal managed to convince Vivienne that they were interested in more than browsing and were not agents of the police or anyone else meant to due her harm or interfere with her business. When he showed her the Van Helsing Cameo, she instantly recognized it as the work of her great grandfather, Francis Aytown and offered to let them see something special she had hidden away. At that point she took them to the third floor and entered into a room that was seldom used and clearly out of the way, used for storing junk.
She showed them around the cramped room and one of the first things Wolfgang noticed was a very well done marble bust, intricately detailed, of a male figure. It was similar to the one that was likely used for the passports of some of Dracula’s more potent agents, like Countess Dolinz. The rest of the group instantly took an interest in it. After all, who was this man? Was he still around? Was he a vampire? When asked what it was for, Vivienne admitted that her mother was a master sculptor and simply kept one around after she was done. She even had the marble that was used, stored behind some other boxes.
It was at that point that she pulled from a desk draw a velvet pouch and pulled forth another cameo. This one, she explained, was the Holmwood Cameo. It was part of a set that her great grandfather had made and this one came back into her possession a few years ago (under circumstances she did not get into). However, as soon as more questions were about to be posed, a crashing from the window exploded into the room and there were enemy forces present, having just thrown a flash grenade into the room, stunning most of them. Outside, upon hearing the sound, Vicente acted, instantly getting the drop on his attackers, killing one and quickly maiming the other. He immediately made his way to the building to see what he could do to help his allies.
As the team in the gallery fended off attacks from the assailants, Cal noticed they were targeting him and suggested they wanted the return of the Bathory Journals, indicating they were in the service of Henri Valant, the dealer they had ripped off in Vienna. But how they tracked him down to London was unclear.
They managed to kill the attackers and get out of the area before the police arrived. They left Ms. Aytown-Baptiste behind but took the Holmwood Cameo, figuring it might be of some value later. The team reunited with Vicente and made their way through SoHo and to the Underground before switching, boosting a car and avoiding London Metro police. But one thing was clear: the police were widening their dragnet. Someone was pushing and increasing the pressure on the agents. Due to this, the agents were not sure where they could turn. The tendrils of MI6, Edom and GCHQ were everywhere and they knew they were in the crosshairs of the organizations that were allied with Dracula. Franco turned to his ‘uncle,’ Edward Bentley for help who sent them in the direction of an underground doctor, who also worked for MI6. Dr. Ike Rutherford ran his illegal cash-only clinic out of his vet practice and reported suspicious injuries to his superiors in the government. But for a short time the team could trust him.
It was at this point that the team decided to make use of some other leads they had. Namely that of Laurel Dene, a journalist with The Guardian whose name had come up twice in the past few months. Once with Prof. Donall Scally, in the Vatican and once again in a document where she interviewed an author of a book that had interested them on some related topics. The team decided that she might have some useful information. After all, as an investigative journalist, she was used to poking around, uncovering secrets and getting into places she could not. It was possible she was an ally not yet discovered.
Cal used some pull to get a phone call with her and was able to arrange a meet up, with the suspicious Dene. However, in his brief meeting with her, she was interested in what he had to say and he realized she was bright, capable and onto the same things they were. When she offered to show him what she had, he jumped at the chance, especially when she told him, he wouldn’t believe it . . .