March 27th, 2018 – March 29th, 2018
After the events in Vienna, stealing the list of items from Henri Valant’s shop, Contre-Temps, the team knew they had to get as much distance between themselves and Valant as possible. After all, they had stolen the Bathory Journals and had also reacquired the Hillingham Brooch. The team knew that Rome would be a good place to lay low as they had a lead at Vatican City and better yet, there was a friendly face there. Vicente Rojas had maintained a solid relationship with the Vatican’s second-in-command of security, Alfred Wagner.
Leaving Vienna, they made some quick phone calls to inform Wagner they would be arriving soon. However, they were unsure what details to tell him. They truly wanted to get into the Teutonic Cemetery as they suspected the man who was Dr. Abraham van Helsing (von Hessler) was buried there. Of course, there would no doubt be a cache of helpful documents in the Vatican Secret Archives if they could gain access.
However, just 45 minutes into their trip, they received word that a bomb was detonated a few blocks from the hotel in which they had been staying. Within moments, the intelligence community chatter revealed that photos were being circulated that bore a passing resemblance to all members of the team, with the notable exception of Illari Vasyl. Why he was singled out as not being targeted for the frame job was a mystery. Fortunately for the team, Wolfgang Fechtner was able to make a few modifications to their cars which allowed them to slip over the Austrian border before the border was sealed.
Cal Morrison had secured a rental house in Rome, not far from Vatican City. The team would make their way there, relax and then try to get into the Vatican. Vicente cautioned them, however, that it was unlikely that they would be able to get many weapons inside but they could likely get at least some small pistols for protection.
As the group relaxed in the rental home, Cal awoke from a nightmare regarding some of the horrible monstrosities he had faced. But he found himself staring at the pile of books they had stolen from Valant. Somehow the journals of Elizabeth Bathory were calling to him. It was then that he decided to get up for a walk to clear his head, moving out to the cold Roman streets in the dead of night.
While out clearing his head, Cal encountered a man on the street who stated they had a mutual friend, Rachel Little. The man, who identified himself as Josef Kuka, stated that Rachel had sent him to see if Cal and his team needed any help after the series of activities they had been involved with in Vienna. Since Rachel had supplied the team with a safehouse outside of Brussels when interrogating Omar Shakti, she had eyes on them for several weeks now. Cal thanked Kuka for his offer and said they would be in touch. Cal immediately called Rachel and asked to talk to her more in depth the following day, on a secure line as he had gotten a strange feeling from the brief call they had together.
Wolfgang set to work on a contraption that would service as an X-Ray device that they could use to examine the Teutonic Cemetery. They were most interested in seeing what lay beneath the service. They decided they would use it when they got inside the walls of the Vatican.
Later that morning the group decided to go meet Alfred Wagner at the Vatican. However, Wolfgang expressed some concern over their course of action, using someone that, as Vicente stated was a close and loyal friend. Wolfgang reminded the group that everyone had lost someone and that using Alfred Wagner was going to put him in the firing line. Vicente stated that he knew Alfred was up for the challenge and would be willing to help but they would have to bring him into the fold.
Getting to the admitting offices to the Vatican, the group did not go through a deep inspection. However, whereas they were able to smuggle in a few small pistols but nothing large or deadly. Alfred Wagner set them up in some special visitors housing where they could stay for a few days, leaving Illari Vasyl and Luigi Cardellini back at the rented house in Rome.
The group split up, going their separate ways, using the covers they created as professors and visiting scholars. They covered a good deal of the Vatican, seeing some of the sites that interested them, even focusing on a nearby greenhouse, curious if anything similar to Vanderpool Garlic was being grown.
Wolfgang investigated the Vatican Observatory where he met Sister Gretta, the director of the facility. In speaking with her, he discovered that among some of her other duties, she was running some reports on earthquake research throughout eastern Europe. She stated that these reports and this research had been conducted for close to 100 years and that she was sending the reports to a mysterious Jesuit field agent, Monsignor Cesare Rinaldi.
Meanwhile, Cal and Franco Selvaggio investigated the Vatican Secret Archives but were rebuffed by the functionaries that worked there. It was clear that the group would need more help in order to get into the forbidden area.
Later that evening, before the group was to meet for dinner with Alfred Wagner, they went to the Teutonic Cemetery. Using the X-Ray device that Wolfgang had put together, they scanned the graves, specifically that of the man they suspected to be Van Helsing. They soon found that whereas there were human remains there, there was also a lead box underneath, suggesting that something was, in fact hidden. After all, a cell of terrorists wanted to find what was here before the team had intercepted the communication.
That evening, the team met up with Alfred Wagner at his apartment in the Vatican where he had prepared a hearty dinner for them. Over dinner the team discussed their situation. Wagner seemed to know that the team was not a group of professors and also seemed to know they were involved with the bombing in Vienna, or at least that they were set up. They pressed the idea that they could get into van Helsing’s grave which Wagner seemed opposed, but left open the possibility.
The conversation turned to the nature of evil and the group revealed that they were fighting against something truly evil – something dark and demonic. Wagner seemed open to the possibility and agreed to throw his support behind the group. He even offered to get the team into the Vatican Secret Archives by providing a letter of introduction to the lead archivist, Cardinal Sergo Bernadini. Wagner also referenced a group that was rumored to exist, the Society of St Lazarus of Bethany and suggested that there could be, in the archives, some of their documents as they were rumored to be in the business of unmasking evil.
The following morning, Cal contacted Rachel Little through a secure line. During the conversation, however, he was convinced that there was something amiss with Rachel. He became increasingly concerned that Rachel was, in some way, compromised and ended the conversation, instructing her if she were in danger, she should flee but should not contact him again.
The group convened together and Cal told them about his concerns about Rachel. The group then went to the Vatican Secret Archives, showed the letter to the staff and got admitted to meet Cardinal Bernadini. The Cardinal was unpleasant and mysterious and reluctantly allowed them access to some restricted materials under the direction of his assistant, Sister Sofia.
Sister Sofia did not know much about van Helsing when asked but did manage to show them to a special room dedicated to the Society of St Lazarus. The room appeared to have once contained numerous materials but presently appeared as if there was scant remainders of what had once been. The group was pleased that there were at least some documents remaining, the St Lazarus Documents.
What they found inside was nothing short of amazing, yet also horrifying . . .