Night's Black Agents: Dracula Dossier

Episode 32: Schleich di!

April 21st, 2018 – April 24th, 2018

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Knowing they were short on supplies, or at the very least would need to replace some of the weapons and armor that had been damaged, Cal Morrison called in a request to his friend in Bucharest, Fox Schillnger, who had endless access to numerous CIA off-book operations. He knew it would be risky getting this kind of material as Fox would have to reach pretty deep to get what was needed, but Cal figured the risk was worth the reward. Fox agreed and since the team was headed to Munich, to investigate the infamous Dead House, Fox would have the material waiting for them at a specific drop point.

Meanwhile, Wolfgang Fechtner monitored the chatter throughout Germany, discovering that there was a strong amount of intelligence activity going on, causing him to determine that there were numerous figures likely putting the word out for them. He and Illari Vasyl, with Cal’s help began to reduce the amount of eyes looking for them through digital intrusion, but they would have to be careful in their actions. But this might prove to be easier said than done. Since they had determined that the Archdiocese of Mechelen-Brussels had been compromised by agents of Dracula and been sending important documents to the Dead House in Munich, they were unsure what to expect.

The team picked up their supplies and Cal sent an email to the mysterious Monsignor Rinaldi, asking for assistance. However, he got no response. Then the team made their way to Munich to see what they could find.

Determining that the shipment had already arrived in Munich and had been delivered to the Dead House, the team knew that time was brief. And besides, Cal knew that the Dead House contained one of the more horrific things they had encountered – a dreaded Red Room. He was determined that he would use some recently acquired C-4 to destroy this unholy place as it would surely undermine the power of Dracula and his unholy minions. They knew this would bring even more heat than what outside forces were already pushing onto them.

Upon arriving near the Dead House, they did a survey of the situation, finding that the place was under surveillance from other forces, but were not immediately able to figure out from whom – simply not enough information was at their disposal. However, the loading area looked as if it has low security even though some of the outside forces were keeping close watch. Illari had a plan to distract their people on the ground in order for the team to get close. As Illari posed as a drunken tourist, Cal was able to get close enough to the building to see what was going on in the basement. A man in an expensive suit was on a cell phone while dumping documents into a furnace. The team had to get in quickly if they were to stop this and gain access to the materials!

Upon Illari incapacitating the foot agent, the team got inside the Dead House and Wolfgang shot and killed the attendant before making their way to the basement. Sometimes innocents needed to be sacrificed on the board for the greater good.

Upon making their way to the basement, they encountered the man on the phone, speaking German and they distinctly heard him mention ‘Hound’ which they took to mean that he was talking about – or to – The Hound, the high ranking agent of Edom. They eliminated him but from the side room appeared two gun men and after them, several agents impacted by what could only have been the strange vampire serum they had encountered before. After dealing with these threats, they knew they only had a few moments to get out before the team watching the building went into action. Vicente Rojas managed to watch their backs as they went to work. They grabbed what they could while Cal set the C-4 explosives, hoping to take out the building and the Red Room.

Upon fleeing the scene, they knew that the agents were scrambling into action and as they monitored the band, they heard someone, in German, reference ‘Hoyt,’ which they took to mean their adversary, Hamilton Hoyt, who they ran afoul in Vienna several months ago and knew had been looking into them. On the way out, Cal provided a hearty ‘fuck you’ to the team and detonated the C-4. However, he had underestimated the amount of explosives and as the entire city block was taken out, the blowback caught the team in the fringe explosion which damaged the vehicle and threw them onto the sidewalk. Only with Wolfgang’s mastery of control over the vehicle did it not go off the road and become inoperable. But the agents were all hurt. They were barely able to make it out of Munich and find themselves as a cheap hotel where they could assess their wounds as well as what they had taken from the Dead House. They found papers relating to fighting vampires which they knew they could put to use . . .

After a couple of days of rest and recuperation, they made their way to Marseilles where they intended to meet with Bishop Jean-Baptiste Champavier, someone associated with the Society of St Lazarus of Bethany, an organization with whom they desperately wanted a connection. Of course, there was another connection in Marseilles, the mysterious (and likely sinister) Sigmund Walther, an ex-Nazi whose name was given to them by Lou Mangiotti in Bucharest.

The team decided to meet with the Bishop first, using forged documents as to who they were, stating they had found Church documents he would be interested in. They determined that they could meet with Walther a little later, depending on what the Bishop stated as he was likely their connection with Rinaldi.

Going to the Bishop’s offices as the Marseilles diocese, they were easily able to get in to speak with him. After quickly assessing how trustworthy he was, the team made some pleasantries and managed to abandon the subterfuge, getting to the heart of their reason for being there.

The Bishop seemed interested in their story but explained that some of Rinaldi’s activities and theories were outlandish – but not necessarily untrue. Whereas the Bishop admitted he had more of an open mind that some of his associates in the Church hierarchy, he also was weary of some of Rindali’s claims. That said, he considered Rinaldi an ally even though he was the only other member of the Lazarus Society. When Cal suggested that perhaps they could get a closer relationship and maybe become members of the Society, the Bishop was weary but did not deny the possibility. However, he made it clear he did not know them well enough as of yet and if they were able to help Rinaldi, and Rinaldi put in a good word, they could revisit the issue. With that, he explained where Rinaldi could be found. he was presently in Spain, in the town of Elorrio, which was familiar to the investigators as this was the location mentioned in the Dark Castellan document they had recently acquired.

With that, Cal decided to share with the Bishop an electronic copy of all the information they had gathered, with the focus on Dracula, something that was a surprise to the Bishop but was willing to accept. But Cal made it very clear that there were a number of intelligence agencies that were interested in this information and the Bishop should be extremely cautious. Many people had died and likely many more would follow suit with regards to the conspiracy.

They agreed to speak again soon and then the team had a choice – go to Elorio or try and meet Walther. They decided that Walther would be the next stop and then make their way to meet Rinalsi.

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Episode 31: Son of the Dragon

April 16th, 2018 – April 20th, 2018

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The plan, as the team determined, was to get into the archives of the Archdiocese of Mechelen-Brussels. They were to pose as a documentary film crew that would show viewers the marvels and mysteries that lay beneath. In reality, they were going to plunder whatever secrets the man known as Van Helsing left behind as well as determine what relationship he had with the Church. Their guide, the mysterious Chloe Dumas, and employee of the Archdiocese, would be none the wiser if they were lucky. Of course, as a secondary assignment, they were looking for the Brooch of the Dragon, assigned to them by Edom agent, Vita Notturna. If Edom wanted the item, then so did they.

Arriving at the Archdiocese, Ms. Dumas took an instant interest in Franco Selvaggio, who seemed lost and hurt as he was still suffering through the damage that had been inflicted upon him at the Vatican, as well as the loss of his brother-in-law and friend, Luigi Cardellini. Whether there was a true connection between them or something else was unclear.

Ms. Dumas took the team, still posing as documentarians, to the archives and bypassed the numerous secure entrances that had been established. The area looked cleaner than their night before and certain items were missing, likely shipped on to Munich. Eventually, after stopping at several areas of potential interest, they made their way to the deeper part of the archives and catacombs were the documents pertaining to Von Hessel were stored. She left them to their own devices to go check on a few other details and that is when they got to work, seeing what they could find.

Savas Osman left the documents room and continued down the cavern beyond the room. Franco went with him, which ended up being a wise course of action as the ground was unstable and when investigating, Savas’ leg fell through a weak spot, indicating there was a cavern below.

Meanwhile, Pascal Lerue and Vicente Rojas went across the hall where they found another room filled with strange paintings from the 1600’s and 1700’s, all with disturbing imagery. Pascal, never at a loss for using resources when he could find them, took one of the more disturbing pieces from the collection.

While researching the documents in the repository, Wolfgang Fechtner and Illari Vasyl discovered a few curious things. First, it seemed that many of documents pertaining to the Von Hessel matter were missing. Entire swaths of documents were gone, which was extremely curious. Left behind, however, was a symbol of St. Lazarus. Was this a sign left by agents of the Society of St Lazarus of Bethany? Also, it seems that there suspicions were confirmed regarding the relationship with the Church as ‘monster hunters.’ From the documents that were found, it appeared that the Archdiocese in Brussels was, in fact, a central location that dispatched investigators of the paranormal for the past few years. Von Hessel was, in fact, a Church operative.

At this point Savas, Franco, Pascal and Vicente returned to the room where they reported back on what they found. As the others began digging through the documents, they were finding very little beyond their initial investigation. But when Illari pulled out a large bx, he was shocked to see, a hidden message written in chalk. It read: “Run. Not safe!” It was at that point that Vicente, staying in a guarded position, saw coming around the corner, Chloe Dumas, flanked by 8 para-military soldiers, and they looked ready to kill. Chloe’s eyes glowed with a maniacal glare indicating they were in serious danger. They all jumped back into the room and sealed the door, giving them a few moments to think of what they would do, even though they were trapped.

Thinking quickly, Illari pondered whether or not there was a secret passage, as many of these old buildings and catacombs did. He was in luck, as there was a secret door that led down some stone stairs. A grenade was rigged by the door so that the next time it would open, the grenade would drop, detonating. This gave them some extra time to flee.

Exploring the new area, it was deeper into the earth and filled with darkness. The soft earth indicated that they could be in danger as the stench of death was all around them. That is when they were beset upon by the Vampiric Clergy. A short firefight slowed them down but the creatures proved they were made of guile and superior powers, which, in turn, slowed the escape of the team.

Upon getting past the vampires, they made their way to the next chamber, with the armed soldiers and Dumas close behind, unknowing how much the grenade may have slowed them down. As they entered the new room, they discovered it was an elaborate underground chamber filled with unusual items and treasures, but dominating the room was a large coffin with writing indicating to whom it belonged. It appeared that the writing showed it was ‘Claude Vignon, Son of the Dragon.’ If this was correct, they were in serious danger.

Figuring that the Brooch of the Dragon could likely be inside of the casket, they carefully and slowly began to remove the lid, realizing that they had limited time. But just as they were moving it, they noticed on the ceiling above them, crawling above them was a horrific and grotesque figure – Claude Vignon, himself!

The battle was brutal and hard fought as the powerful vampire took on the entire team of agents. But some lucky shots as well as determination allowed them to pull through, beheading the creature. Quickly grabbing what they could, they found the exit which took them back to the surface, a graveyard on Church property. With that, they boosted a large vehicle and contacted Cal Morrison to clean out their rooms of important items and made their escape, meeting up at a hotel outside of town. But first, Savas insisted they come back and pick up his contact, Marie Lamont, to save her from what would surely happen to her.

Upon arriving back at the new hotel, the group began tending to the serious wounds they had incurred and Lerue began to look over what he had found. Examining one item he grabbed, it was titled Queen of the Underworld and was a small, grotesque statue, however, he was unsure of what role it played. He also found documents that suggested the Archdiocese of Mechelen-Brussels was compromised. Apparently, their misuse of the Eucharist was a double edged sword. Whereas it provided a weapon for Von Hessel, it weakened the integrity of the church and allowed Dracula’s minions to enter and exact their revenge. Those who were not slaughtered were turned into vampires and dark servants of the Prince. The Cathedral and the administration had been a bastion for Dracula ever since.

It was at this point that the team decided they would return to Munich and see what they could discover regarding the destination point of the artifacts being sent from Brussels. Of course, the destination point was the famed and dread Munich Dead House, a location that was known to the team.

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Episode 30: Above and Below

April 9th, 2018 – April 15th, 2018

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The team needed out of Rome and quickly. The heat was rising and having been expelled from the Vatican had not aided matters. The team quickly got what they could and Wolfgang Fechtner knew the exact place to lay low for a few days – Interlaken, Switzerland. It was right before tourist season started and would have plenty of quiet hotel rooms. Besides, he had a contact there, Dr. Zehra Sevim, someone who he could request supplies from.

Upon arriving in Interlaken, it was as quiet as they expected. However, Savas Osman still wanted to enure their safety and began moving through what few cafes were open, investigating the personalities that were present. Wolfgang took the supplies he got from Dr. Sevim and began creating several doses of the Blomberg Serum as he suspected this could provide some protection from the Vampires they were likelygoing to face. Illari Vasyl, however, began researching what he could about the Archdiocese of Mechelen-Brussels. Also, since the team had been in Brussels recently, he had to find a specific place they could stay, so he booked several suites at the Stanhope Hotel

Cal Morrison, however, had other plans. He was interested in reviewing the infamous Bathory Journals the team had seized in Vienna. What secrets did they have?

Cal was ill prepared for what he encountered in the text. It was horrific retelling of the murders of Countess Elizabeth Bathory, occurring between 1578 and 1610. Each murder recounted and each death provided in gruesome detail, explaining how she felt this would prolong her life. However, it also detailed how she, in fact, knew Dracula. but much to Cal’s shock, he discovered she detested him with great passion. Perhaps they were monsters that were too much alike. But Cal determined that unless he was gravely mistaken, the Countess, herself, was also a vampire. But the stress of the haunting entries in the journals were too much for Cal. He came close to a nervous breakdown over what he had been reading and began to be haunted by the horrors he read.

As the group left after a few days in Interlaken, they made their way to Brussels and the Stanhope Hotel and en route, Savas revealed that he actually had a contact at the Archdiocese of Mechelen-Brussels. A friend of his, Ms. Marie Lambert, recently took a job in the archives and would provide to be an excellent contact, as fortune seemed to smile on them. Savas contacted her and she stated she would be happy to receive him at the Archdiocese the following day. As Savas suggested that he and his associates were members of a documentary crew, she would be happy to discuss some details with them regarding getting inside the archives.

The following day when the team arrived at the offices of the Archdiocese and made their way to the archival office, they met Ms. Lambert who seemed somewhat on edge (however, this was nothing compared to the erratic nature of Cal Morrison, who was jumping at shadows after having read Bathory’s journals, as well as suspecting that Bathory, either as ghost or vampire was anywhere and everywhere). Lambert explained they would have to talk to her boss, Chloe Dumas, who ran the office.

Upon getting in to see Ms. Dumas, Illari noticed a book on her desk, something called Prince of Lies which appeared to be something recent but heavily annotated by Ms. Dumas. Illari made a mental note to pick up a copy at the local book store. When Ms. Dumas was asked about visiting the archives, she stated that it was not possible. There was extensive construction going on, and besides, due to the recent activities at the Vatican, the archives were currently closed. This was unacceptable to Savas as well as Wolfgang. Savas implied that there could be a healthy donation to the Church and Wolfgang managed to show a perfectly forged note from the Vatican on behalf of the mysterious Msgr Rinaldi (with the Society of St Lazarus of Bethany). So despite her reservations, Ms. Dumas suggested they could return tomorrow and she would give them a personally guided tour. However, based on the looks Marie Lambert was giving Savas, there was something amiss. The group left but had their own plans. On their way out, Marie suggested that she and Savas meet up later that night at a nightclub.

Vicente Rojas and Cal decide to remain near the offices and set up surveillance on Ms. Dumas. They discovered that one of her first phone calls was to the Cardinal, explaining the situation. At the same time, Wolfgang and Illari made their way to the archives in disguises and managed to breach the strangely high tech security that was present. Upon getting in, they noticed that there were numerous crates, preparing to send objects out of town. When Wolfgang examined the packing labels, he discovered that the items were headed towards Munich, specifically, the dreaded Dead House, as ordered by figures at the Vatican. What could this possibly mean? Regardless, they discovered that the whole place was a massive maze and would have to return later when they were better prepared as Ms. Dumas had dispatched workers to get to the archives to conduct some cleaning. But before they left, Wolfgang managed to pinch a book that was to be sent. When they got back to the hotel, they discovered it contained some hidden secrets within. Pulling apart some of the binding, they discovered a Collection of Ancient Documents. What else was the Archdiocese smuggling out of the building to Munich? They would have to return.

Meanwhile Savas Osman wanted to see what he could discover, scouring the city. He found an interesting flyer, announcing the arrival of celebrity club-reviewer, Vita Notturna, appearing in a local club, Bloody Louis. It was her earrings that looked suspiciously like Edom symbols that attracted him to her. Was she an Edom agent or a weird coincidence? He left a message with the club staff that he was a journalist who wanted to return and interview her that night. They agreed and he decided he would return with the others after midnight to talk to her.

That night would prove to be a busy evening. They wanted to break into the archives again, meet with Marie and then interview Vita Notturna. However, Cal stayed behind to lovingly obsess over the journals of Elizabeth Bathory under the pretense of ‘trying to uncover more secrets.’ The team went to watch the archives as Savas went to a wild nightclub where he met up with Marie who suggested her boss, Dumas, was working with some shadowy figure in and around the Archdiocese as she head heard her reference some important individual other than the Cardinal. Marie suspected that someone else was calling the shots as far as Dumas was concerned.

The group then returned to the archives, again broke in and noticed that significant cleaning had been done in the area. Knowing they had an appointment the next day, they decided to merely focus their attention on the crates to be shipped off to Munich. Sure enough, each book and document contained some other hidden documents within. As they carefully examined and took the documents apart, with Wolfgang putting them back together again, they noticed most of the documents pertained to historical activities of Vlad Tepes; Dracula. Why were they being sent? Was it something sentimental for the undead count? Another document was one titled Dark Castellan, which seemed to focus on the activities of some evil spirit in Spain. With that, they packed everything up and went out to meet with the mysterious Vita Notturna and the exclusive club where she was appearing.

The group, posing as Edom contacts, approached Ms. Notturna and suggested they were field agents. Notturna explained that while she and her superior (alluding to Hound), had an asset in place at the Archdiocese, the asset had not yet been able to execute some of the orders that had been given. Specifically, there was an item inside the archives Edom was interested in, a brooch that was for the Order of the Dragon, something special and perhaps sacred to Dracula. Notturna insisted that the team get in and get the item and get out and hand over that and everything else they found to her. Notturna explained this was a useful piece of leverage they could use against Dracula as he was proving to be a very testy and difficult ally of theirs.

With that, the team left, preparing for their guided tour in the morning of the mysterious and infamous archives, going down below, far underneath the cathedral.

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Episode 29: When in Rome . . .

April 6th, 2018 – April 8th, 2018

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Wolfgang Fechtner, fresh from his clandestine meeting with Melissa Walford, returned to Cal Morrison who had just been released from the Roman hospital and the two of them connected with Illari Vasyl and Vicente Rojas where they met at a back room in a bar where Fechtner explained the deal Walford had offered. Cal, leery of working with MI6, due to the fears that they were a tainted organization, and possibly in league with Edom. However, there was some suggestion that what Walford and her mysterious allies had was somehow worth the risk. Besides, it seemed that they quite possibly were connected to Hopkins in some way.

Satisfied that the entire affair was not a complete trap, the investigators returned to the back room bar where Walford was first encountered. The two shadowy associates of Ms. Walford were still present, not contributing to the conversation as much as they seemed to observe. It was evident to Fechtner that they were experienced field agents. When Walford dropped the name of the Circus, the team knew they were dealing with true professionals.

The discussion centered around the large crate that appeared in a Roman warehouse. Whereas none of them knew what was inside, Walford suggested that their contact, likely Hopkins, alerted them to the existence of the crate which, Fechtner noted, could well contain a coffin of some kind. Whereas Walford and the others did not seem to know what was inside, or what the true nature was, Cal happily explained to them the kind of threat they were dealing with, alluding to, but not confirming, the existence of a supernatural threat. Cal did, however, question them whether or not they were familiar with Edom to which Walford seemed to explain that many agents seemed to have heard of this but suspected it was some kind of urban legend but increasingly there were several that began to believe it was more real than fantasy.

One of the shadowy agents spoke up; the older gentleman. He stated was Norbert Westerly and had been in the field for long enough to have vast experience. He seemed interested in which of the investigators were associated with Matias Emerlich. Taken back, Fechtner admitted he was. He was successfully able to bluff his way into convincing Westerly that he did but acted like he did not – a double bluff as it had been so long since Fechtner had really dealt with him that he hardly knew him any more. It seemed that Westerly wanted to find him, suspecting that Emerlich was a dangerous and desperate individual and may not be the man that Fechtner thought he was.

Once the investigators were satisfied that Walford and her allies were legitimate and reduced the chances of them being enemy agents, they researched the warehouse where the crate was stationed, and discovered it was owned by a holding company. The point of origin for the crate was precisely unknown and the recipient was not listed. They feared the worst regarding what was inside.

Upon arriving at the area where the warehouse was located, Cal immediately noticed an unmanned van nearby. The van once had the logo of Axel Logistics but had been painted over. The van also rode low to the ground, suggesting there was something very heavy inside. Whether it was a motorcycle, a team of Vampires or something else was, as of yet, unknown.

As Fechtner and Cal approached and entered the warehouse, Illari approached the van in hopes of neutralizing whatever threat was contained within. But when he approached and got himself inside, he was staring at a camera that was facing the warehouse and noticed a van full of explosives in the rear. Communicating this detail to Cal and Fechtner was the only response he had in such a short amount of time.

As Cal immediately got to work with jamming the signal, Fechtner quickly went to the crate, opening it, as he knew he had minimal time. Upon opening it, he was standing face to face with a large, ornate coffin. It was then that he noticed the looming vampiric creature above him. Startled, he immediately threw up a holy water grenade and got out of the way.

Cal was distracted by the situation with the explosives and was unable to fully engage with the creature but Illari and Vicente came in, shooting and using their holy water grenades. But it was Illari that managed to take his silver machete and do a sliding attack that took out both legs of the creature, but it still managed to be alive. It was then that they dispatched it with holy water and saved some of the blood as well as the ash that the creature disintegrated into. Fechtner and Cal planned to send the materials to the mysterious Dr. Beaufort so he could study the material for further research. Cal managed to make off with a small amount of the explosives from the van and the entire group fled the scene.

Returning to the secret location Walford was using, the team quickly debriefed and discussed what they had found. It seemed that Walford, Westerly and Derry were shocked to experience the vampires and now were putting together the pieces that they had earlier not fully understood. It was then that Westerly handed over some document that a ‘mutual friend’ thought would be helpful: the 1981 transcript as well as the St George Document.

Westerly introduced his younger colleague, Colin Derry. Westerly explained they had been investigating Matias Emerlich as well as his connection with the shadowy businessman, Omar Shakti, an individual whom the characters had a prior relationship and were extremely suspicious of. Westerly provided them with the Seal of the Brotherhood, a strange document that seemed to be important to Shakti and whatever organization he was involved with. Westerly seemed interested in the group getting closer to Shakti as Westerly clearly had an open investigation (or vendetta) against the man. The group agreed to consider helping but made no promises.

With that, they collected all their things, intended to gather up the others, and planned to go to the Archdiocese of Mechelen-Brussels, back in Brussels. Perhaps they would encounter Mr. Shakti again . . .

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Episode 28: Death in the Vatican

March 31st, 2018 – April 5th, 2018

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At the Vatican apartments where the investigative team was staying, great care had to be taken to prevent Cal Morrison from doing anything dangerous or self-destructive as his experience with the Trammel Testament had, at least for the time being, shattered his mind. Wolfgang Fechtner kept watch over him but was, at the same time, leery of all the new faces that had come into their lives, especially Pascal Lerue’s old friend Savas Osman. Fechtner knew that the amount of individuals to whom they exposed their secrets to may likely eventually catch up with them.

Osman, however, desperate to prove his usefulness, decided to go out into the city of Rome in order to try and get to the bottom of several rumors and legends he was hearing discussed. He knew some some communities in Rome where he may be able to pick up some rumors about some of the supernatural tales that were being spun in the Muslim community.

Meeting with a Muslim scholar, Dr. Yilmaz, Osman discovered that there were, indeed, rumors going through the more extremist members of the communities, attributing deaths to ghosts, effrit or some other supernatural force. Whereas the professor, himself, believed the discussions of supernatural activities to be part of Western intelligence agencies using tricks to conduct unusual assassinations, he did tell Osman that there was a man, locally, with ISIS and Al-Queda ties who may have more information. Dr. Yilmaz warned him, however, that this man was dangerous, a radical and may or may not be willing to talk. His name was Javed Al-Pari (which was a name known to the rest of the team).

Meanwhile, back at the Vatican apartments, Luigi Cardellini and Franco Selvaggio had a more in-depth conversation. Luigi was able to impart the news to his brother-in-law, that Franco’s wife and Luigi’s sister, Anna, may still be alive and whereas he had not provided the clues to him earlier, connections to Anna could be found in Vienna. Luigi admitted that he had not revealed this earlier due to Franco possibly compromising the mission they were on. However, Luigi stated they would have to investigate her whereabouts soon.

Pascal Lerue determined that it was time to try and contact Arnbjorg Strand, the Norwegian thief they encountered in Vienna. Ms. Strand had made off with the text, the Vordenburg Diary, for an unnamed patron. Since the team recently found references to the Diary at the Vatican Secret Archives, associated with the Society of St Lazarus of Bethany. Lerue felt that he had to make an attempt to find out what was in this book as it likely had valuable information.

In contacting, Strand, she was reluctant to reveal who her patron was but promised she would get in touch with the individual and see if they were interested in meeting with Lerue and his team. However, she cautioned that the patron was secretive and was likely someone Lerue had heard of.

That evening representatives from Cardinal Heinrich Ausland set up a meeting with Vicente Rojas. The Cardinal’s envoy stated there was some matter of great importance which the Cardinal wished to speak to Vicente and Vicente should come to his apartment that evening. Vicente agreed and the meet was set up for later that evening.

As the group debriefed with Osman after his meeting in Rome, with the professor, the group revealed they knew exactly who Al-Pari was as they had encountered that name before. They revealed that Al-Pari was a contact of Haluk Ozturk, the Turkish individual with ISIS ties. It was at this point that the group handed over the Hopkins Note to Osman, showing exactly how they initially got involved in the investigation into the Dracula Dossier.

It was at this point that Wolfgang, after looking over the mysterious Alraune Handout, began to conduct research into some of the more clandestine operations that referenced the German group, N Branch, which may have had in depth information into whatever passed for the ‘German Vampire Program.’ He began looking at references to a Luftwaffe colonel, Helmut Doring, whose fate seemed to be that of having been assassinated during World War II but could have been spotted after the war. Either reports of his death were misrepresented or there was something more . . . sinister at play.

Later, when Vicente went to his meeting with Cardinal Ausland, he encountered a variety of unusual scenes which seemed to tip him off that something was wrong. But when he arrived at the Cardinal’s apartment, the door was ajar – something was amiss!

Meanwhile back at the apartments, Wolfgang was preparing for an early night, but at that exact moment he caught a glimpse of a reflection. He ducked and that is when the shooting started. The team, spread throughout their various rooms, were under fire as men, likely in the employ of Edom were descending with extreme prejudice. As the fighting took place through several rooms, with professionals using silenced weapons, Vicente was investigating his own mystery, eventually picking up a discarded gun on the floor and finding the body of Cardinal Ausland in his reading room. That is when he heard the Swiss Guard arriving, clearly having been tipped off and clearly the result of some attempted frame up involving Edom.

The fighting back at the apartments was furious and brutal. During the altercation, Wolfgang made plans to secure as many of the documents as possible as well as try and protect Cal, who was still in the middle of his nervous breakdown. Lerue and Osman managed to dispatch their attackers but Franco was not so lucky. He took the brunt of many of the attacks and watched as Luigi was gunned down before his eyes.

Vicente was somehow able to convince the Swiss Guard he was not responsible for the Cardinal’s death and demanded to speak with his friend, Alfred Wagner, only then revealing that Wagner had been killed, as well. It was at this point that he was able to convince the guards that there was a plot against the Pope, which distracted them enough to get them to follow him to where the attackers were – back at the apartments as he knew his friends were likely under attack from Edom agents.

During the altercation back at the apartments, Pascal encountered another would-be assassin but this one was in the company of a mystery man who was more subtle than armed, and the man made references to trying to find ‘the book,’ likely referencing the Dracula Dossier, itself. However, as Lerue fought with the assassin, the mystery man seemed to realize the mission was being scrubbed as they likely under estimated the strength and resolve of the team. He slipped away as Lerue was still engaged in a death struggle with his opponent.

When Vicente and the Swiss Guard arrived, they saw the destruction that had been caused and immediately took everyone into custody but placed an unconscious Franco in the hospital, along with Lerue who had been badly hurt. Cal was placed under psychiatric observation for his erratic behavior. Over the next 24 hours the Swiss Guard cleaned things up and did their best to avoid a scandal of a team of agents as well as two dead senior officials at the Vatican. However, it was clear – the team was to be expelled from The Vatican never to return (in their current identities anyway). Charges would not be brought against them if they left immediately. However, the group learned, to their horror that their injured teammates had been transferred to a civilian hospital in Rome, likely with no protection. They immediately left The Vatican to place protections on their friends.

Upon arriving, they could tell that there were some foreign agents at the hospital. However, their friends seemed safe. Wolfgang was approached by a woman who had a hospital gift bag and stated that she bought an item for his friend who was still upstairs. Handing the item to Wolfgang, he realized it was a biography of Anthony Hopkins. Clearly this was some kind of clue regarding the Dracula Dossier. When Wolfgang opened the book, he recognized some cryptography in the text which had a code to meet at a local cafe in an hour.

Upon arriving, the woman had the group taken to a back room where she was with a pair of shadowy characters. She introduced herself as Melissa Walford from MI6. MI6 was watching over their hurt friends and ensuring that they would not be harmed but had an offer. Details had recently come to her agency’s attention regarding a mysterious box where the point of origin was Romania. Currently, the box was sitting in a warehouse in Rome and suspected that the team would be interested in investigating this mystery box . . .

How could the team pass this up?

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Episode 27: The Turk

March 29th, 2018 – March 30th, 2018

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As Pascal Lerue, Cal Morrison and Franco Selvaggio continued to pour over the documents at the Vatican Secret Archives. Pascal remembered a moment from his life that had a profound impact upon him; the very thing that got him involved in the investigation and pursuit of the evils they were current chasing.

Flashback

Several years ago at a hotel outside of Paris, Pascal Lerue and his contact, Savas Osman, a Turkish national whom Pascal had worked with for several years, had been tracking down an arms dealer with connections to Syrian terrorists. A botched surveillance mission turned violent and they found themselves face to face with their subject. But he turned into something more than human. A small altercation with this man, turning out to be something similar to Vampires, started their path that ended up leading Lerue to his present situation.

Osman agreed to dispose of the body that they accidentally managed to destroy and agreed to find what he could and Pascal agreed to do the same.

That was the last time Pascale saw Savas.

End Flashback

Pascal Lerue snapped back from his memories as his phone buzzed with a text. As fate would have it, it was one of Savas Osman’s cover identities. It was clear that Savas was in Rome and wanted to meet up. Pascal finished up what he was doing with Cal and Franco and muttered something about a contact. With that he left, stating he would return later and not to worry about him. However, Cal, who had seen enough bad things happen recently told Pascal to be careful.

Cal and Franco returned to the small apartment where they had been staying and met an unusual character in the lounge. Professor Donall Scally, from the Priory Institute in Dublin was in the middle of a session involving drinking, looking at papers and watching television. Joining the professor for a drinks, they quickly determined that he was doing research at The Vatican and he had a background in theology and folklore. It was when he dropped that some of his research did, actually involves vampiric and supernature legends, especially those involving the Abhartach, of Irish legend. Franco thought this was extremely interesting and was immediately drawn into the professor’s stories.

Meanwhile, Pascal and Savas were catching up at a restaurant in Rome, discussing what had happened after their fateful night. Pascal admitted that he feared the worst regarding his friend, with Savas responding by subtly splashing some water on his friend then doing the same to himself, suggesting it was a holy water test. Pascal informed Savas of the existence of the document, the Dracula Dossier and Savas responds that he, himself, had been conducting his own research into Dracula. Pascal counters with the fact that he has proof Dracula has not only infiltrated governments but has also formed an unholy pact with an organization called Edom, a group with numerous intelligence and criminal contacts who have been trying to use Dracula as an asset, for over 100 years.

When the questioned turned to how Savas knew that Pascal was in The Vatican, Savas stated that a mutual friend of this now worked security at The Vatican and informed him that the group was there. Savas, knowing he had an opportunity to meet up and exchange information, readily accepted.

Pascal and Savas returned to Vatican City, met up with Franco, Cal and Vicente Rojas. Pascal vouched for Savas and the group went upstairs to Cal’s room to discuss matters more and inform Savas about some of the experiences they had as well as the dangers they had been facing – and suspected they would continue to face. Essentially, as Pascal made clear, this was the one chance Savas had to turn back which he flatly turned down, realizing that the dangers he had been investigating for several years woudl be for nothing if he turned back now.

That evening, however, Cal did his best to try and prevent the damage that had been done by either Edom of Dracula in the form of the Vienna bombing and the subsequent framing of the team that had been attempted.

The following day the group went back to the Vatican Secret Archives, where they met up with Cardinal Bernadini and Sister Sofia. The group posed the question of whether or not there was more information that the Society of St Lazarus of Bethany would have consulted. Impressing the important need they had to Sister Sofia, she agreed to take one group to a room that contained a text she thought might be what they were looking for, while taking another group to a sealed room that she referred to as a ‘depository.’

Before departing, however, they questioned Cardinal Bernadini about anyone who might he associated with the Society of St Lazarus of Bethany. he admitted that whereas Monsignor Rinaldi was a suspicious and enigmatic figure, there was a man in Marsailles who may have more answers, Bishop Jean-Baptiste Champavier.

Cal and Vicente examined the book that was draped under a black cloth in a sealed glass room behind electronic security. The tome, that they quickly discovered was called The Trammel Testament, was the single most blasphemous, obscene and horrific thing they had ever laid eyes upon. It was filled with sexual perversions, psychological trauma and even seemed to moan and weep, occasionally seeping a grotesque substance, literately from the pages and spine. It took all the strength of will they had to examine the text, bringing them to the point of sanity to even examine a few chapters. But Cal persisted and for his efforts was rewarded with some kind of incantation that would supposedly deal some kind of painful energy to things that were ‘non-human.’

Meanwhile, Franco, Pascal and Savas were sent to a different room where they poured over documents that seemed to relate to Dracula as well as, perhaps, documents that may have been compiled by Von Hessel/Van Helsing or his successors. Among the things they found were:

During the period in which they poured over these strange documents, Pascal slipped away, intent on finding something that would seem helpful. The fact that he was stealing from The Vatican did not seem to both him much but he was intent on taking something. He managed to bring back a chalice that he suspected was over 400 years old.

That night, after leaving the Archives, the group met up and shared what they had found, paying special attention to Cal’s revelation of the Trammel Testament as well as the unusual magic he had found therein. They also met again with Alfred Wagner that evening and discussed the plan to exhume – any way they could – the body of Von Hessel who had been buried in the Teutonic Cemetery. Wagner, of course, was horrified, but when Vicente impressed upon him the importance of during this and that it had a greater good, he relented. They explained that they were going to engineer a power outage, involving lines that went near the cemetery. There they would set up tents, dig up the ground and dig underneath the body and find the box underneath Von Hessel’s corpse.

The following day, as they began to dig, after setting up the tents and wearing the uniforms that Wagner provided, things were going well until a visitor decided to peek in on what was going on. Within a few moments they were standing face to face with the Bishop of Rome, the Pope, himself! Of course, he was with a few of his associates and Cardinals. The Holy Father seemed legitimately interested in what was going on and seemed pleased that this involved restoring the heat in his office which had, suddenly, gone off.

As the Cardinals reminded His Holiness of an important meeting, his gaze turned towards Franco, who was still wearing his prized possession – a Papal Ring from Leo XIII. When The Holy Father noticed this, he asked to examine it and then wanted to not return it. Franco, anger swelling up inside of him, almost took physical action but the rest of the group thought quickly and convinced the Cardinal and Holy Father that it was costume jewelry. The Pope, feeling this was in poor taste, did return it, however.

With the ruse complete, the investigators did manage to find the secret compartment under Von Hessel and discovered what was buried with him – a wooden oak mallet with three silver tipped steaks, each steak bearing a portion of the Lord’s Prayer.

There was still more work to do at The Vatican, but now they had to review what they had and what they would do next.

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Episode 26: Roman Holiday

March 27th, 2018 – March 29th, 2018

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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 . . .

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Episode 25: A Vienna Waltz

March 20th, 2018 – March 25th, 2018

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Part 1: The Frankenstein Folio

As part of the team returned to the secret safehouse of Dr. Oskar Beaufort, they needed rest after the successful, but stressful mission in Berlin. Cal Morrison, Pascale Lerue and Wolfgang Fecthner engaged in some much needed rest, even though, their host Dr. Beaufort, had every mannerism that put them on edge. Dr. Beaufort was irritable as well as aggressive when questions were posed of him, with him explaining that he had been extremely helpful so far and the agents should not treat him as a tool but rather as a partner.

Meanwhile, in Amsterdam, Luigi Cardellini, Franco Selvaggio, Illari Vasyl and Vicente Rojas had pressing plans – meeting up with the man that had kidnapped Emma Goetz. The mysterious figure had told them to meet him at the top of the St. Nicholas Cathedral at 8PM. This was something they had not wanted to miss as the individual had information he could provide about the mysterious Dr. Beaufort.

Upon arriving at St. Nicholas’ cathedral, Franco was already in place across the street, prepared to open fire if needed. Luigi, Illari and Vicente entered the church and went to the rooftop as requested. At the appointed time the stranger arrived with Ms. Goetz. When Illari began to question the creature, it became obvious in short order that the stranger, calling himself Vincent, was some kind of bizarre medical experiment. When it was revealed that Dr. Beaufort created him, Illari immediately made the connection that Beaufort was Dr. Frankenstein of legend and Vincent was the Creature of the Mary Shelly novel.

Vincent further revealed that Beaufort had been prolonging his life for years by harvesting the organs of relatives, replacing them as needed, and conducting grotesque experiments in the name of science. Ms. Goetz was to be the next such subject in his horrific work. Vincent freely admitted, however, that it was not for Ms. Goetz’s safety he was involved but instead to frustrate the sinister doctor’s efforts.

It was then that an Edom kill team arrived on the scene, led by a woman identified as Vendella French. A full assault took place between the team and the agents with a helicopter appearing on the horizon, making its way towards the top of the cathedral. Well placed shots and a well timed grenade bought the agents some time but it became a close race. As the helicopter came closer, Franco was about ready to shoot the pilot when he noticed the vehicle being commanded by CIA field agent, Sarah Hester (who was not on the best of terms with the agents as it was). The agents were able to board the helicopter, taking Ms. Goetz with them but Vincent was not so lucky. He was shot by several Edom agents, falling off the top of the cathedral, distracting the Edom team as the helicopter pulled away.

Meanwhile, back in Ostend at the secret location of Dr. Beaufort’s lab and hideout, the team got a visitor; Ms. Magda Paz, the field medic and occult researcher who had saved Illari from being doomed to a life of vampirism several weeks ago when the team was in Munich Ms. Paz was acting suspiciously but before anyone could react, her eyes and mouth began to pour fourth blood as she spoke with an unholy terror, clearly being puppeted by the dark lord, Dracula himself! Cal and Pascal had to kill her before Dracula, acting through a vessel, could do more harm to them. And then they knew the area was compromised and had to escape, but not before torching the hideout, destroying Beaufort’s work lest it fall into the wrong hands. (Though there was some suggestion that Beaufort, himself, may have qualified as ‘the wrong hands.’)

As the helicopter, escaping the top of St. Nicholas’ Cathedral flew away, Sarah Hester told Illari where the drop off point would be, allowing for Wolfgang and the other agents to meet up with them in roughly two hours. When the helicopter landed, Hester further commented that they were lucky her operatives were in the area and were using video surveillance in Amsterdam to trace their moves. She also assured him that the mistrust the group had in her was misplaced and added that Cal Morrison could go ‘fuck himself’ for his trust issues as they would likely get him killed in the long run. After her team departed, Illari and Franco began to question Ms. Goetz who was, without a doubt, terrified.

They learned that whereas she did know Karl Bonnaire, she did not him by that name, instead knew him by ‘Charles,’ a man she dated from time to time and who did not even live in Amsterdam. Satisfied that she was not a member of the conspiracy, but likely a subject whom Dr. Bueafort wished to cannibalize for ‘parts,’ Illari was determined not to let her fall into his clutches. But whatever information Me Goetz had, it was likely very little. Certainly, she was an employee of Bichi National Bank, a criminal organization with likely ties to various conspiracies and she also seemed to have some social or romantic entanglements with Karl, but there was little that could be done now and they were convinced she was an innocent in all of this.

As the rest of the group arrived, Illari wasted no time in frantically explaining to the rest of the team what had happened, who Vincent was, what he had said and more importantly, who Dr. Beaufort really was. As a result, it was clear that Dr. Beaufort had been prolonging his life through science for over 100 years and whereas he may be a powerful scientific ally, he was also a potential monster. Of course, they all knew, at least in the back of their minds, especially their visit to Helix Labs some months ago when they first encountered Dr. Beaufort, that he was somewhat unhinged. But they made an arrangement with him – they would not be a party to any of his more sinister antics but would work together to investigate the vampiric conspiracy. The team would help him get his research materials and he would provide them with technical advice and items from time to time.

At this point the group sent Ms. Goetz on her way with the ability to contact her from time to time and decided they would investigate Mr. Henri Valant in Vienna. They would drop off Beaufort in Salzburg (the birthplace of Mozart) on their way and provide a means for them to get in touch with one another. It was then that the team made their way to Vienna, checking into a hotel, ten blocks away from Casino Wein, the site of a previous operation.

Part 2: Valant’s Vault

The goal in Vienna and in investigating Valant was twofold. First, Valant’s interest in Whitby jet was of interest to him, especially since he was likely in possession of the Hillingham Brooch. Second, Valant had a strong connection – according to several sources – with the human trafficking ring that was rampant throughout Europe. Specifically, according to Edom agent Naploean Corsico, he may be the last known figure to have contact with Anna Cardellini, the wife of Franco Selvaggio and sister of Luigi Cardellini. However, the team had kept the last part secret from Franco and Luigi.

As fate would have it, Pascal had a contact in Vienna. His ex-wife, Nadine Weiss, a former Interpol agent and current private security contact lived there and had a warm relationship with her ex-husband. As the team stayed in the hotel, investigating the Vampire Hunting Kit once owned by Abraham van Helsing, Pascal took the opportunity to meet with Nadine and discover if she had any useful intel on Valant.

Whereas Wolfgang, Illari and Cal spent a great deal of time with the Vampire Hunting Kit, Illari made certain Cal was aware of the Van Helsing Cameo. The cameo had a painting inside that that was most likely a representation of Dracula and it was suggested that perhaps, by tracking down the artist, they would get more knowledge into some of the inner workings of Dracula’s network. After all, someone was creating life-like representations of undead figures such as Countess Dolinz in order for them to have legitimate passport photos. During his research, he found the prayer, which was on one side, as one issued by the Diocese of Mechelen-Brussels. (Of course, it is ironic, in some ways, that the Cathedral of St. Nicholas, in Amsterdam, falls under the jurisdiction of Mechelen-Brussels.) After extensive research he discovered that the painting was likely the work of Francis Aytown, who was a contemporary of the investigators in the 1890’s and whose descendant ran the Aytown Galleries in Soho.

Nadine Weiss proved to have very little in the way on Valant, other than he was known as a shady underworld figure with connections in human trafficking. His business, Contre-Temps, was an antique house that specialized in finding hard to find items for the right buyer. However, Pascal was lucky in that as it happened, Nadine had been in contact with someone who was investigating Valant. Nadine promised to put Pascal in contact with this individual the next day. A meet was scheduled and Pascal returned to inform his associates who had uncovered a massive amount of information about the Vampire Hunting Kit. Some of the items specifically examined were:

It was at this point that Wolfgang decided to have Charles Asante send him Whitby jet through certified mail.

Meeting with Nadine’s contact was a far more colorful character than expected. The following day at an upscale pub in Vienna Pascal Lerue arrived (with the rest of the team scattered throughout the area). He soon met Arnbjorg Strand, a Norwegian super-thief with contacts all throughout Europe who boasted she could get in and out of just about any home, vault or secure location. The colorful and direct Strand agreed to work on the Valant case as his vault was something she, herself, was working to crack for two months to steal something for an interested buyer, whose identity she kept secret. She did reveal that the prize she was seeking was something called the Vordenburg Diary

Meeting the next evening with Strand, she made it clear she came prepared and was more than capable. She had blueprints of Contre-Temps, as well as intel on the security detail which included specs on the security systems which led to the basement vault. Further, she seemed to develop quite the connection with Franco, whom she determined was a wild Italian.

Illari made contact with his black market associate Boiko Kostevych to resupply some items that were desperately needed, included grenades, tear gas and gas masks. Illari was not about to go into a dangerous situation unprepared.

The following evening the team breached the Contre-Temps and began to bypass the security system as well as took out the armed guards near the vault. Once they got into the climate controlled vault, it was less a vault and more of an underground storeroom bunker that likely went back to the days of WWII as a Gestapo bunker. As they began to run wild, seeing the various treasures that Valant had spirited away, they did come across not only the Hillingham Brooch but also numerous pieces of Whitby jet. Franco spent his time collecting as many valuable art treasures as he could find, using his extensive knowledge of art history. Strand, however, made a direct move for the Vordenburg Diary.

When Cal approached a set of double doors that seemed far more ornate, he was in for a terrible surprise. From a latch above the double doors, something sprung forth and attacked. This Guardian Creature, perhaps the most horrific and vile creature the team had yet come across, was a grotesque abomination with multiple limbs, a mouth that spread far open and fangs. Worse yet, it was likely the creature was once human.

Defeating the desperate and vicious creature was a hard fought battle and as soon as it was dead (or dead again), they knew they had little time in which to escape. Cal went into the double doors and found an ornate parlor that held one set of items; a set of books later identified as the Bathory Journals. These texts, supposedly written by Countess Elizabeth Bathory, herself, were highly valuable, themselves.

With that, the group grabbed what they came for – and a lot more – and escaped. Strand stated she knew someone who was helping her with the research, a computer hacker named ‘Mako,’ who could help.

Part 3: The Countess Case File

Immediately arriving to the location that Strand identified as Mako’s hideout, it was clear it had been burned. Mako had gotten sloppy or unlucky and by the looks of things, it was Edom’s handiwork that had done the deed.

A quick search of the location showed that most things of value had already been taken, however, Illari found a secret compartment with some documents that Mako had gotten hold of and hidden away. Was it what Edom was looking for? Upon closer examination the documents, the Countess Case Study, was clearly an Edom document that it seemed they would be willing to kill to get back.

It was at this point the team considered themselves lucky they had not been here when Edom had arrived and beat a hasty retreat, clearing out of the hotel they had been staying in. They bid farewell to Strand, suggesting they would contact her again as she promised to do them a favor in the future. And with her seeming interest in Franco, it was likely she would not be away from them for long.

After clearing out of the hotel and then Vienna, the team decided that pressing their luck with Valant was not wise. Certainly he likely had secrets and certainly had information on Anna Cardellini, Franco’s wife, but the team felt the heat had gotten too high in Vienna and Rome would be their next stop. There were certainly suggestions that Rome housed secrets of its own that the team would desperately need to uncover.

Examining the Whitby jet sent by Mr. Asante, they discovered that it had a tracker, indicting Asante had been compromised. Once they disposed of the jet they were on their way, however, noting a few days later the strange death of Mr. Charles Asante in London, suggesting the conspiracy was shutting down loose ends.

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Episode 24: Family Matters

March 17th 2018 – March 20th, 2018

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Franco Selvaggio and Illary Vasyl returned to Dr. Beaufort’s hideout in Ostend, Belgium. There they met up with Luigi Cardellini and Dr. Beaufort, who was busy working on whatever projects he had on his agenda. Still, the team was unable to accurately determine where he was working and both Luigi and Franco surmised there must have been a secret lab somewhere on the premises. Illari needed to distract himself from the pain he had endured from the men who tortured him so he set his mind at piecing together various radical Islamic cells in Europe with the intent of trying to predict a pattern.

The group gave Dr. Beaufort the chemicals they had stolen from Nox Therapeutics. Illari suggested that perhaps the chemical, an advanced clotting agent could be used vampires. Dr. Beaufort agreed to see if he could weaponize a small sample but the results would be unpredictable. Instead, they would have to field test it and bring back a report. He also handed Illari four samples of his special healing serum that he states ‘had a high likelihood of healing tissue and trauma damage.’ Just a ’high likelihood.

It was at this point that Franco decided to attempt to find Dr. Beaufort’s secret workspace. Following the building’s pattern, Franco eventually came to the conservatory, a large room containing a piano as well as a dancing area. Using his best judgment, he discovered a secret panel on the side of an art deco fireplace that contained a keypad. Using his skills in intrusion, Franco cracked the code, revealing the entry into the basement. As he descended the wide stairs, it was evident that it was getting far colder than the temperature above.

Getting to the basement, Franco saw a large bio-chemistry lab with some pathology elements. Dr. Beaufort was hard at work at a bank of terminals and nearby was a slab with a sheet on top of it, obviously hiding a corpse. There was another door beyond the doctor, as well with a keypad. Franco debated several courses of action but settled on putting together a small camera that Cal Morrison had given him, suspecting that spying on him was the best course of action, monitoring his actions from upstairs.

Upon getting back to the first level of the house, Vicente Rojas arrived, having taken a long route back from Berlin, as he was certain he had been followed for one leg of his journey. As Franco suggested looking in on Dr. Beaufort, Luigi brought up another point: what would happen if they saw something truly horrific? What if the doctor was up to something reprehensible in his lab? This led to the greater discussion of how much they would be willing to tolerate and bargain with in order to topple both Edom and Dracula? Would they be willing to make pacts with truly despicable people? After all, allies in their line of work were not nice people. When fighting monsters, often a bigger monster had to be bargained with. The group was torn and decided to table to discussion for a later time.

Looking in on the camera that Franco had placed, the doctor was not doing anything as terrible (for now) as they had suspected. However, he was starting to dissect the well preserved corpse on his table, starting with the brain, extracting tissue from the organ and injecting it with some other chemical.

A day later when Dr. Beaufort emerged from his lab, he had a proposal for the team. He had the address of a flat that may have well once belonged to Professor Abraham van Helsing. He would give them the address in Amsterdam. In return, he wanted them to bring to him a woman in Amsterdam, Emma Goetz. There was a complication, however. Whereas he explained that Ms. Goetz was his niece, they were estranged and she might act like she did not know him. They would have to bring her, regardless of what she said, as he suspected she was in danger. Franco and Illari seemed to balk at the idea as this sounded less like a rescue mission and more like a kidnapping. This is when Luigi, from across the room, silently gave them a look that indicated he was recalling the earlier conversation about working with morally grey individuals.

Beaufort noticed their hesitation and reminded them they had a business arrangement. They could take the deal or leave it, regarding van Helsing’s flat. If they found nothing there that they thought would be helpful they could abandon the other mission. They agreed, not really liking the terms of the deal, however.

The next day they found themselves back in Amsterdam (with Illari having some ill feelings as this is where Prof. Hans Loper lived), and they made their way to the supposed apartment of van Helsing. They observed as a pair of professors lived there. When the two occupants walked to the university for their classes, the team broke in and looked around.

Little out of the ordinary for a pair of professors was present and the group was about to give up when Illari found a secret door in their craft room, leading to a hidden area in the attic. This was some kind of unused study. Whereas everything seemed to have been destroyed with over 100 years of age and damage from rats, there were some curiosities that caught their attention . . .

Evidence suggested that the individual who once lived her was a ‘Professor Martin von Hessel,’ which was likely the real name of the man who, in the novel Dracula, was Professor Abraham van Helsing. Of further interest was an object under the desk, when opened, was found to be a Vampire Hunting Kit. If this kit was, indeed, once owned by Professor van Helsing, then this was a true treasure, indeed. They also discovered a small cameo, a Van Helsing Cameo that had a portrait that they assumed was Dracula on one side and a prayer on the other side, written by the Diocese of Mechelen-Brussels. Both objects were taken by the team as they knew they would be helpful later.

The group then quickly left and went across town to see what they could find about Emma Goetz. While waiting outside her apartment along a busy commercial street, they did a brief search on her. Disturbingly, they determined that Ms. Goetz worked at the Amsterdam branch of Bichi National Bank as a loan officer. This immediately sent up red flags in their minds that there was possibly much, much more to Ms. Goetz than they first thought. They then decided to break into her apartment while she was at work and see if she had any connections they needed to be aware of.

Her apartment was clean. There was nothing in plain view or hidden that indicated she was any way involved with Edom or any conspiracy. No guns, false passports or suspicious amounts of cash. One item, however, which at first almost went unnoticed, was a very curious item. Franco noticed a small framed picture on her end table that was of her, clearly on a beach vacation, with a man. The man was none other than Karl Bonnaire.

They went back outside and waited. They determined Ms. Goetz would likely return him between 5PM and 7PM. They would have the advantage of darkness on their side to question her and take her into custody if need be. When they saw her come off the bus at the end of the block, they were about ready to make their move, when some figure came out of the alley, dressed in a hat and trenchcoat and assaulted her. Illari and Franco sprung from their van, identifying themselves as police and went to her aid. However, they were not prepared for what happened next.

Upon closing in on the attacker, he managed to knock Ms. Goetz in the head, rendering her unconscious. They looked into the eyes of the attacker and he was a horribly disfigured and grotesque creature to look upon. Illari immediately struck with his silver blade and it sliced into the creature, causing multiple pieces to fall to the group from his insides. Clearly, the creature was not human but he did not recoil from silver, indicating he was likely not a vampire. The creature spat at Franco that this was a war they did not want to be in and Franco demanded to know what war. The man replied it was a war between he and Dr. Beaufort, which was not the answer they were expecting.

The man then responded with superhuman speed and agility, grabbing the unconscious Ms. Goetz and moving up the side of the building, one handed. As he fled the scene, Illari, still in shock over the horrific visage, yelled that he, too, was an enemy of Beaufort’s. This seemed to resonate with the man who paused before fleeing, but yelling back that he would meet them at the top of the Basilica of St. Nicholas in two hours.

And with that he was gone.

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Episode 23: Pain and Suffering

March 13th, 2018 – March 15th, 2018

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The plan was simple. The team would breach Nox Therapeutics in Berlin, get the chemical compounds Dr. Oskar Beaufort was interested in and get out. However, things went as badly as they could, with the mission still technically being a success.

In the ensuring chaos of the break-in, Wolfgang Fechtner was able to get the chemical but Illari Vassyl was taken prisoner by the security team at Nox. A well equipped team was able to sweep the outside of the facility, flushing out Cal Morrison and Franco Selvaggio. Vicente Rojas managed to slip away in the chaos. Whereas Wolfgang knew he had a duty to his friend, Illari, he was a professional and the first thing that had to be done was to get the chemical out of the area, secure it and then worry about Illari. As Wolfgang approached a vehicle he would have to steal and use as a getaway vehicle, he was beset upon by a figure in darkness – but for once it was a friend, not a foe, his old mentor, Matias Emmerlich. Emmerlich, having been Wolfgang’s mentor in the BND years ago, suggested that there was no time for talk now, but he has a safehouse nearby – an underground subway station that was long out of use.

Meanwhile, Illari did not have quite as good a reception to look forward to. The team that had captured him, turned him over to some other individuals, asked questions and when it was clear they did not get the answers they wanted, they loaded him up in a van and in the dead of night, transported him across town to a medical surgical center in an office park where instruments of torture and interrogation were waiting for him. On one hand, Illari was confident that he would be able to withstand some of the interrogation methods. On the other hand, he knew his training would only take him so far and it would be a rough night for him. The men in the room constantly looked up to the observation area of the operating theater as someone in the darkness was watching.

At Emmerlich’s safehouse, Wolfgang did what he could to contact the rest of the team – Franco, Vicente, Cal and Luigi Cardellini. But they had all gone dark, which was standard procedure for the team. As he patiently awaited some kind of a response in order to put a rescue team together for Illari, he and Emmerlich reconnected, quizzing one another on what they had been investigating.

Emmerlich stated that he had picked up the trail of Wolfgang and his associates some weeks ago and admitted to being the mysterious sniper outside of the country inn, outside of Brussels. It was he who fired the shot at the Edom forces that allowed them to escape to the snowmobiles. When Wolfgang questioned him on what he was doing, he explained that he had been working deep undercover, penetrating a variety of criminal organizations – drug trafficking, arms dealers and human trafficking – and had recently run afoul of Cema Gusa, the infamous drug dealer who ran a Munich-Istanbul connection. This drug dealer was a name they had encountered before as he was the smuggling contact the group had seen dealing with Tabitha Holmwood when they were back in Munich.

Further, Emmerlich went on to draw a connection with the antiquities dealer, Henri Valant, and the human trafficking organization and whomever his superiors were, they had reputations of being involved in witchcraft and other fell forces. Naturally, Emmerlich dismissed this as just another way for criminals to spook and scare their enemies but Wolfgang took a much different approach, thinking there could, indeed be something to it.

When asked about his experiences with Islamic fundamentals, Emmerlich stated that he did, indeed, deal with some as part of his undercover work but there was a strange assassin or or group of assassins who were taking out radical extremists in a brutal and violent way. Emmerlich did not have an explanation for this but stated that he knew these terrorists were runing for cover and terrified at this mysterious force. Wolfgang had a very clear idea of what – or who – Emmerlich was talking about.

As the ruthless agents began to torture Illari for what he knew, the mysterious man in the observation room revealed himself. To Illari’s shock, it was Prof. Hans Loper, his botanist friend from Amsterdam who had put them in touch with Dr. Adrianne Vanderpool. Prof. Loper explained that he had to have information on what Illari was up to, who he was working with and where the chemical compound was being storied. He explained that he had inserted agents inside Nox (which is also stated was a dangerous organization in and of itself with their own ruthless forces) as Loper was using the research at Nox to hand back to his paymasters at Edom, specifically Hound. This is why Prof. Loper and his associates would stop at nothing to get back the chemical and would do whatever it took to get the information out of Illari. They beat him savagely, they attached electrodes and jumper cables to his testicles and threatened to cut off a hand and insert a metallic pear into his mouth and anus to get the answers they needed. Illari provided just enough information to make Loper satisfied for a few minutes, hoping it would buy time for his friends to mount a rescue, or he would die at the hands of the torturers. But Illari was able to pass off one piece of information that he hoped would sew dissent. He told Loper that Omar Shakti had, in fact, gotten hold of the package that was being delivered to him and the package was mobile and under Shakti’s control. Whereas this meant nothing to Loper, his apparent call to Hound may have served as a wedge between the sinister Dukes of Edom.

As Wolfgang and Matias tried to figure out where Illari was being held, with Wolfgang running several simulations and collecting traffic data, he calmly attempted to explain to his friend that there was a massive vampire conspiracy running through Europe, showing him some of the occult tomes supplied by Pascal Lerue. Matias was naturally skeptical but he did admit that in his dealings with the criminal cartel, Hamilton Hoyt and his mysterious outfit The Union, they were desperately looking for something called the Dracula Dossier. So whereas Matias remained reserved in believing his old friend, he admitted there could, in fact, be something there.

Wolfgang brought up their old handler, Johann Schmidt, and Matias immediately stated that he could no longer be trusted, in his opinion. Wolfgang shared what he knew, specifically that Schmidt had ordered Tabitha Holmwood’s smuggling operation with Cemal Gusa to go untouched by the rest of the BND and there was another connection in the form of Henri Valant, a key player in the human trafficking operation in Vienna. Matias was familiar with all these individuals and stated he had Tabitha under his surveillance for some time, despite Schmidt’s directives. Valant, he stated, with a ruthless and dangerous character with a variety of shady connections and contacts. If human trafficking was an issue, Valant would have answers, for certain as well as possible links to the greater conspiracy that Wolfgang seemed to believe in.

During the interrogation, Illari found his best opportunity to escape but this failed, resulting in a savage beating by Loper’s thugs. Loper seemed to grow increasingly impatient, angered as he was being pressured on the phone by his contact, likely Hound, to find information from Illari. Illari knew he would not be able to hold out much longer.

Wolfgang and Matias continued to wait to hear from their fellow operatives but they did manage to find CCTV footage and traffic footage of a van leaving Nox, following it to the unused surgical center in the office park. As they observed, they saw suspicious men dragging a hooded victim from the van. They knew this had to be Illari. They had his location. Matias’ observation, however, is that these men were not professional intelligence agents by their gait and mannerisms. They were hired mercenaries, thugs or criminals. This could be used to their advantage as they developed a plan to get in, perhaps using a fake chemical case to try and sell it back to them, making the thugs think that there was a second cache of chemicals.

As they waited, not realizing the danger Illari was in, Matias further stated that the human trafficking ring Valant was involved with, had money trails that went to Bichi National Bank but also to Darkest Night, the high end brothel in London. Wolfgang knew this was a location that Illari had some dubious familiarity with and would have to tell him, assuming they would ever find him alive again.

But finally, Wolfgang was able to make contact with Vicente, filled him in on what was going on and they met up, with several of Matias’ weapons. They filled him in on the plan en route to the hideout where Illari was being kept.

Upon arriving, Matias posed as a security guard from Nox, with the doctored chemical case as the ruse. Gaining entry, the criminals quickly spotted the attempted trick and opened fire, resulting in a brutal gunfight inside the surgical center. Whereas they managed to kill all the gunmen and torturers, everyone was hurt badly and Prof. Loper broke his cell phone and escaped in the chaos. They quickly untied Illari and saw the horrible situation he had been through, evidenced by the vomit, urine and instruments of torture scattered around the room. It was at that point that Vicente mentioned he knew someone who could help, a Berlin nurse who owed him a favor, Lilli Weisz.

Knowing that Matias’ situation was critical and Illari’s was not much better, they made their way to the nurse’s flat in the dead of night and Lilli quickly went to work removing he bullet. Whereas Illari was in little mood to talk, he did fill Wolfgang in on what he had learned and Wolfgang shared with Matias had told him.

Lilli explained that Matias would be safe at her flat but it would likely be weeks before he was up and moving again but there was no way he could leave for a better facility as he would be helpless. When Wolfgang went into speak to his friend for what could have been the last time, under the circumstances, Wolfgang revealed some further details.

First, Matias admitted for all these years he was actually a deep cover operative working for the CIA and was actually American born, merely infiltrating the German intelligence network but that their friendship was real. Second, he stated that there were few people that could be trusted and that he was afraid Eloise Buckley, back in London, was sacrifice any of them for her agenda so she was not to be trusted. Third, he knew that Buckely, using her powers in the CIA wanted to apprehend or take out Valant but the planning was not yet in place. He had been working with Adam Cylinski for several years, feeding him the details he had who would pass them on to The Unicorn, one of the few people Matias actually trusted. Finally, Matias revealed that he had actually trained Hamilton Hoyt, the ex-CIA field agent who was now murdering his way through Europe, trying to find this mysterious Dracula Dossier.

With that, Wolfgang and the team departed, Wolfgang somewhat taken back that his friend had been living a lie all these years but there was far, far too much to worry about for the time being.

And Illari, made it very clear that if he ever caught up with Hans Loper, things would go much differently.

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