Night's Black Agents: Dracula Dossier

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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Episode 22: Let's Kill Omar Shakti!

March 3rd, 2018 – March 11th, 2018

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Cal Morrison, Wolfgang Fechtner, Pascal Lerue and Franco Selvaggio patiently awaited the arrival of Omar Shakti and his retinue, in the Brussels warehouse that they had set up as part of their sting operation. The plan was to abduct Shakti, take him to a safehouse an hour away provided by GCHQ operative, Rachel Little, and see what Shakti’s relationship was with Edom and Elvis.

The action was fast and furious, once Shakti and his underlings arrived. During the fight, the heroes took some hits but also noticed that Shakti did not attempt to flee or even truly protect himself. However, once the agents had taken out Shakti’s men, they quickly loaded him up in one of his armored SUVs and carted him off, while Illari Vassyl, Vicente Rojas and Luigi Cardellini fled in the other SUV in a different direction. However, as they packed Shakti up, he warned them that this was a poor choice of actions and they only had a few moments to change their minds. He swore this would not go well for them but Cal retorted that the only person for whom this would go poorly was he, Shakti.

En route to the safehouse, the group interrogated Shakti, who clearly knew about Edom and Elvis but knew surprisingly less than they suspected he would. Further, he was clearly hesitant to reveal more than he wanted, as if he had an escape plan. However, Shakti seemed to speak at great lengths as to what was inside the crate he was expecting to find. The body of Queen Netocris, a queen from Egypt’s 6th Dynasty. However, when faced with the reality that many of the other items in the caravan were forgeries, he seemed displeased, to say the least, with much of his anger being directed towards Elvis and the other members of Edom. He was quickly learning that Edom was an organization filled with backstabbers and double-dealers, perhaps something Mr. Shakti was becoming weary of.

When asked about Bela, the assistant of Elvis, Shakti semed to suggest that he had never met her or if he had met her, it was a different person each time. However, he did mention that the mysterious Vendella French, the supposed antique furniture buyer, was an asset of Edom’s, perhaps even the mysterious Bela. He clamied that shortly after the caravan was hit, she paid him a visit, explaining the loss of the caravan.

Arriving at the safehouse the team determined there was likely little more they could do with him so Wolfgang Fechtner decided to plant forgery papers on Mr. Shakti before deciding to kill him. As Wolfgang was preparing to kill him, Shakti learned in and whispered some kind of mysterious code, involving the sands of time and the return of those once thought lost. With that, they staked him and put two silver bullets in the back of his head, making sure that he was dead. This seemed to do the trick they were hoping for. With that, the team evacuated the safehouse, went back to Dr. Oskar Beaufort’s home to relax for a few days as they were tending to their wounds.

It was back at the home of Dr. Beaufort, while resting from the injuries sustained, that they discussed working on some of the side projects he had expressed an interest in, namely going to Berlin to infiltrate and steal certain chemical formulas from an American company, Nox Therapeutics. He suggested he had been there once before and provided them with some schematics of the building as well as some suspected protocols when he had been there several months ago.

A couple of days later, the team, while researching possible leads and relaxing they saw the news story that the missing financier and businessman Omar Shakti had been found alive. He claimed that he had gone on an impromptu hunting mission and gotten lost. The shock that the team suffered that the once quite dead Mr, Shakti was alive was stunning. But it was clear he was not a vampire. But now it became clear there was definitely something more to Mr. Shakti.

That night Wolfgang had a harrowing dream that had a woman’s voice speaking over and over again regarding the ‘sands of time’ which was the same statement Shakti had whispered before he was killed. At the end of the dream, he had a vision of a stone statue of the Greek muse, Colliope. This lead to Wolfgang researching the following day and discovering that there was a large statue of the muse adorning the Brussels opera house – opera being one of the interests they had discovered Mr. Shakti had. It was at this point that Wolfgang used a cover to purchase season box seats.

The following day the team went to the opera house to examine the seats. The opera house representative took them to the seats and at that point Wolfgang noticed someone in a different area sending a signal. When he excused himself to meet up with the mysterious figure, he got a signal that someone was wishing to meet him in the basement. He joined Lerue while Cal and Franco kept the opera house staff busy. At that point Wolfgang and Lerue went to the basement where they were directed. It was only a few moments later that they encountered not only Omar Shakti, very much alive, but also a retinue of bodyguards and a mysterious woman under a veil who did not speak. But n the course of the conversation, Shakti refered to her as ‘her majesty,’ prompting Lerue and Wolfgang to presume she was, perhaps, Queen Nitocris.

Shakti began to negotiate with Wolfgang with the basics of the conversation being that they could likely help one another. Shakti seemed to distrust Edom at this point and his main interest in working with them was access to their vast intelligence network in return for Shakti setting up a cell in Brussels loyal to Edom. However, if Wolfgang and his associates would be willing to work with him, offering up some of their CIA and MI6 intelligence, he would give them access to some of the items and resources that he had – that he assured them they would be interested in.

Shakti agreed they should meet up again in a few weeks, meeting at a chalet in the German Alps under the auspices of a skiing trip. Here, Shakti stated, they could speak more freely as he was convinced that Edom had eyes everywhere, spying on him. Wolfgang agreed and Shakti provided him information to get in touch with ‘his people’ to set up the meet.

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Episode 21: Let's Meet Omar Shakti!

February 21st, 2018 – March 3rd, 2018

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As Vicente Rojas, Cal Morrison and Wolfgang Fechtner waited in the hotel room outside of Liege, pondering what to do about the ‘hit’ on the trigger that had been placed, indicating that there had been movement at the Munch Dead House, things had gone far different for Pascal Lerue. Luigi Cardellini, and Illari Vasyl. Cut off from the others after the attack on the caravan, they had gone their separate way with Dr. Oskar Beaufort, hoping that Franco Selvaggio had gotten away unscathed in the chaos.

Dr. Beaufort had explained to Illari that he was able to keep track of him ever since the blood transfusion a few weeks ago in Munich. And he was fortunate for this as Dr. Beaufort proudly explained, he was able to bail them out of a great deal of trouble. He explained to both he and Pascal he was taking them somewhere safe but the prisoner, Katrina Vladova,should not be able to see where they were going. Therefore, Dr. Beaufort took Illari and Katrina to a safehouse he had set up outside of Ostend, Belgium. He left the two there in order for Illari to interrogate her and took Pascal on to wherever he had been living for several months; Beaufort’s Safehouse.

One of Pascal’s first orders of business was to examine the items he had taken from the caravan. He sent photos of the items to Dr. William Hester (father of Sarah Hester), at the British Museum. Dr. Hester explained that these items were fakes – excellent fakes but fakes nonetheless. They were replicas of a 6th Dynasty queen, Queen Netocris.

Illari spent several days trying to pull information from Katrina. Whereas she had not been brainwashed by Edom forces, she had been turned. Citing the fact that the Ukrainian forces to which she had Illari had been a part of had left her behind to die and that a paramilitary group had saved her, she claimed the organization was part of a larger group fighting against terror. But there was something in the way she said it which made Illari realize she may have experienced or seen things far more unusual. Further, Katrina explained that she had ordered to wire the back of the main truck and blow the entire vehicle if the shipment were compromised. She explained that the tactical teams led by Napoleon Corsico and Gottfried Horst were recently replaced and that she was unsure why the mission seemed set up for failure. Further, she indicated that Horst seemed to have some ability to communicate telepathically, which may have explained their ability for deep undercover covert communication.

Early in the conversation, he knew he would only be able to turn her so far and therefore had contacted Katrina’s niece. Anatolia Vladova, to set up an extraction in a couple of days to bring Katrina back to the Ukraine until more could be done. However, Illari was certain he had at least eroded away some of her faith in Edom.

As Cal and Wolfgang pulled up the footage of the Red Room in the Munich Dead House, they were ill prepared for what they saw. They noticed the door open and Rupert Cavendish. the London VP of Bichi National Bank, enter with what seemed to be an unseen force, likely one or more Vampires that did not come up on film. Cavendish seemed reverent to whatever creature was before him, suggesting to Cal and Wolfgang this was quite possibly Dracula himself. It was as if Cavendish was explaining things to the superior unseen entity and seemed terrified by the individual’s reaction. Cavendish showed the entity a photo which, upon enhancing the image, turned out to be Russian Deputy Press Secretary, Svetlana Tovorsky, a woman who was seen in London as well as recently seen in Bucharest, meeting with Lou Mangiotti. The meeting concluded with Cavendish offering up a young boy to the force which was subsequently devoured in a most horrific way. The camera was then spotted by Cavendish and the image disabled.

A few days later the team reunited, coming together in Ostend and coming to the seaside mansion of Dr. Beaufort. It was there that they recounted their tales to one another and relaxed for a short amount of time.

Sitting with Beaufort, he did explain that he could be of some use to the team as they could be of use to him. Whereas many of his experiments were long abandoned, (much to Cal’s dismay), there was an experimental serum he could provide, the Experimental Serum that would act as a rapid healing agent for the team. Wolfgang asked that Beaufort take the serum they had taken off of Corsico a few days ago for analysis. In return for supplying the team with the Experimental Serum, Beaufort stated he wanted the team to perform some jobs for him – jobs they seemed well equipped to perform, specifically ‘acquiring’ supplies from an American biotech company with offices in Europe, Nox Therapeutics. The team agreed, provisionally, but suggested there were other topics that demanded their attention, first. Dr. Beaufort agreed, suggesting they would have a fruitful relationship and they could use his Ostend mansion as a temporary safehouse. However, they curiously noticed very few signs of anyone living at the location. As to their own projects, it was clear that they needed to investigate, possibly interrogate, possibly kill, Omar Shakti, the likely recipient of the caravan shipment.

The team did some research on Shakti, his dealings and his home. Cal discovered that Shakti’s business, Pharaoh Imports had much tighter digital security than must businesses have and his mansion was located in a gated community and had his own tight security within, including armed guards. They instantly knew this was going to be a very difficult mark to target, as the security he had was equal to that of several world leaders. Based upon his communication with Edom agents, specifically Elvis, this was in some ways not surprising.

Cal and Pascal decided the risk was worth it to breach the digital security of Pharaoh Imports and see what they could uncover. Cal’s abilities proved exceptionally valuable once again as they were able to bypass the measures set in place. They decided the best way they could get into meet with Shakti was to set up a meeting between a cover identity of Pascal’s, posing as an agent from Burdett’s Private Bankers, the underwriter for the caravan that they hit. The idea being that Pascal could get in to see Shakti and hope to drag him out to see some of the items that they uncovered – specifically the fake items.

While poking around on Shakti’s schedule, they looked for anything interesting, specifically, a day or so after the caravan hit. The most interesting name on Mr. Shakti’s agenda was that of Vendalla French, a name that was associated with the day book of Countess Margo Dolinz back in London. Whereas Ms. French held herself out as a buyer and seller of high-end furniture, the connection she seemed to have between Dolinz and Shakti could not be a coincidence, could it?

Meanwhile, Wolfgang got to work on creating an exact replica of the destroyed truck, focusing on the secret room that one contained, knowing that whatever was in there was the real prize Shakti was interested in. This would provide a distraction enough to trick Shakti if it came to it. beaufort was kind enough to allow the team to use a warehouse he had access to in Brussels for this very purpose.

Pascal got his meeting with Shakti, found the man to be polite, but imposing as he was a mysterious man of Egyptian origins. He was able to convince Shakti he was an agent of Burdett’s and later, when Shakti sent an appraiser out to investigate the warehouse scene (without the project Wolfgang was working on), he quickly determined they were fakes and reported back to Shakti. However, when Pascal communicated with Shakti that the team had also found and recovered the back end of one of the caravan trucks with the secret room intact, Shakti immediately sprung into action and said he would be there in 15 minutes.

The team waited at the warehouse for a much different meeting with Omar Shakti.

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Episode 20: Hidden Agendas

February 18th, 2018 – February 20th, 2018
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Cal Morrison, Wolfgang Fechtner and Vicente Rojas raced from the scene of the caravan ambush, still hearing the roaring fires behind them as well as the carnage that they caused. Movement had to be quick and decisive as it would only be a matter of time before Edom forces would arrive and hunt them down. Whereas Wolfgang had a vehicle parked nearby, hidden, they were likely not going to be able to make an easy go of it. So they entered the woods, hoping to double around and take the vehicle. However, since none of the men were trained in outdoor survival, they knew that trained Edom agents would be able to track them down. Attempts to contact Pascal Lerue and Illari Vassyl were also useless. For now they were truly on their own.

As they traveled through the forest, they made good time until Cal heard a shot ring out, fifty feet from him and then silence. Knowing that a true sniper would not have had their shot fly that far from the target, he investigated. Quietly crawling to the spot that was hit, another shot rang out, fifty more feet from him. Immediately, he suspected that someone was trying to guide him, rather than attack. He and Wolfgang and Vicente went to the location and found a stone with blood around it, and coordinates, written in blood on the rock. Realizing someone was trying to guide them, they checked the position and determined the coordinates corresponded to an inn not from from where they were and decided to cautiously approach.

The inn had an eerie silence as they approached. Whereas they saw a few autos in the parking lot, there was no sign of life, adding to the tension. When they entered, they noticed Napoleon Corsico, leader of the caravan they hit, silently having lunch and the rest of the restaurant deserted, but still plenty of food and plates on the tables as if the patrons had left in a hurry – or been escorted out. He welcomed them in to have a seat and that was when Vicente noticed blood stains around the room, indicated several people had likely been shot. Wolfgang noticed a figure in the kitchen, Gottfried Horst, the other leader of the caravan. Likely Horst was guarding whatever hostages were present.

Corsico explained there was little time to talk as things were moving quickly. He placed a sample of the same serum that was likely used back at the Hillingham House on the table, showing his was serious about their discussion. During the course of their conversation, Corsico, who happily and calmly continued to eat his sausage and drink his ale, stated that people would be extremely upset over what had happened with the caravan but that he, Corsico, smelled a rat. Several hours before the caravan was hit, his men were mysteriously switched out for less capable men, implying that someone, somewhere, was interested in the caravan being less than optimally equipped. But who and why? When asked what was in the back of the truck, he was uncertain as to what it was as he did not have orders to look at it at any time.

Corsico seemed wiling to address that at a later point but seemed interested in conducting other business. He suggested that the ‘book,’ clearly referring to the Dracula Dossier, was a dangerous thing to be in their hands and gave them the opportunity to hand it over to him, allowing them to walk away. When they refused, he offered something to make the deal even more attractive – he knew of the last known location of Aria Cardellini, the wife of Franco Selvaggio and sister of Luigi Cardellini. Since neither Franco nor Luigi were present, the information was not nearly as attractive. Whether or not Franco and Luigi would be informed of this would soon be seen.

Corsico again reiterated that whatever time they had was brief. And when Cal pressed him on the issue, Corsico was silent, allowing the large Axel Logistics trucks that pulled up outside to speak for him. Corsico remained calm but the others noticed several tactical agents emerge from the truck and take defensive positions around the building. Vicente bolted upstairs for a better view.

Within moments they heard a voice that yelled from a bullhorn, introducing himself as ‘Dr. Goodpasture.’ The name sent chills down Wolfgang’s spine as he knew that name – an expert interrogator and torturer in the service of numerous criminal outfits throughout Europe. Whereas Dr. Goodpasture instantly came off as a simpleton, Wolfgang assured the others that he was anything but. He was a dangerous and ruthless individual and they were all in great danger. Dr. Goodpasture suggested that they all had roughly ten minutes to make a decision or he and his friends would come into the inn, and it would, regrettably, not be a gentle meeting.

Within moments the group reacted quickly. Wolfgang grabbed the serum from the table and went to the kitchen, but was rebuffed by Horst, resulting in gunfire. Corsico shot Cal, Wolfgang shot Horst and instantly the tactical team outside began to enter the building. The situation became extremely hot but within a few moments, the group managed to escape, but with nowhere to really go. A shot ran out, saving Vicente from being attacked by men out back and Cal got a notification from his ally, Fox Schillnger, who stated help was nearby but they had to act quickly.

Still unaware of the benefactor that had helped fell some of the Edom forces, the group thought better of looking too deeply fro the favor. Instead, Cal checked his communicator and found another message from Fox, providing coordinates. Upon following the lead, with Edom in hot pursuit through the forest, they came across a pair of snowmobiles and made their escape, with Edom still giving chase.

While making their escape, Cal managed to wreck his vehicle and the three had to share one single one. As they got further from Edom, traveling through the forest, they eventually came across a gold course, stole a vehicle and made their way into the city of Liege. They were hurt, shot and exhausted, but Wolfgang managed to get them a hotel where they could rest and recuperate, while Cal did what he could to lower the threat assessment that they had raised.

It was at that point that they had the opportunity to review the document they had taken from the caravan, the Elvis Caravan Memo. As they reviewed the document, some interesting clues were gleaned, least of all the supposition that Vicente put forth that based upon the wording and based upon the events that transpired, was it possible that Elvis had set up the caravan to be attacked and destroyed? He was clearly hesitant to hand over whatever asset was being transported. Was it better, for Elvis, that the shipment was destroyed? Further, who was it going to? Evidence suggested the most logical individual was one Omar Shakti, the owner of Pharaoh Imports. Mr. Shakti was either part of Edom or was about to be brought in and as a result was likely someone they would want to investigate.

meanwhile Cal sent a note to Fox thanking him for his assistance as well as asking about the clans. Fox stated that Lou Mangiotti was holding up his end of the bargain by giving Fox unfettered access to data in Bucharest and he also had an update on the Mirga Clanuri as well as the Ruvari Szgany. It seemed as if the two clans were both using wolves and . . . possible Vampires to exact force on their enemies. Whatever was going on in Bucharest, the two clans were deeply involved.

A massive review of the data had the team trying to uncover the identities of numerous conspirators, attempting to determine their next move, attempting to determine future actions and alliances. It was a quagmire of conspiracies as well as endless possible leads: the contacts at the Vatican, Sigmund Walther, Tabitha Holmwood, and even the relationship with the mysterious Russian deputy press secretary, Svetlana Tovorsky. But before they could act on any of it, they would have to meet up with the rest of the team and connect with the mysterious Dr. Oskar Beaufort.

At was at that moment, however, that the unthinkable happened. Wolfgang got a ‘hit’ on the triggers he had placed to see if the Munich Dead House Red Room had been breached. Something had entered.

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Episode 19: What's In the Box?

February 15th – February 18th, 2018

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Elaborate plans were the order of the day, as Cal Morrison worked tirelessly to route and reroute the caravan of Axel Logistics trucks headed for Brussels. Whatever scheme this was, it was the intent for Elvis to send a shipment of some kind to a contact in the Belgian city. Cal and the rest of the team were determined to ensure this shipment did not get where it was intended to go.

As Cal worked on rerouting the caravan to a location more in line for an ambush, Pascal Lereue made contact with an ally in the CIA, Kelly Reynolds. Agent Reynolds was able to activate a cell of CIA trained Hungarian operatives with para-military training to serve with Pascal and the team. And, of course, Vicente Rojas was able to get his hands on an RPG . . . to make their job that much easier. Further, Cal’s drones and the dampening equipment he set up nearby, it was intended to cut off the communication that the caravan would inevitably need. The light snow on the ground and the frigid cold would certainly work to their advantage.

After spending several days going through the plan with each other as well as their muscle acquired from agent Reynolds, the team got into position on a back road leading to Brussels. With Luigi Cardellini positioned on a high ridge with a 50. caliber sniper rifle, and Wolfgang Fechtner in control of a large garbage truck hidden off to the side, the team began to execute their plan.

The plan went off well, at first, as they were able to take out the lead vehicle and quickly disable to other vehicles in mere moments. However, it was not long before complications set in and several of the hired muscle was taken out as well as Cal’s drones. But with persistence, the team was able to flush out most of the Edom operatives from the vehicles.

Napolean Corsico and Gottfried Horst, the two leaders of the operation seemed to go in separate directions when it was clear that the investigators had superior firepower. However, Illari Vasly noticed one of the agents and through the scope of his rifle, identified her, instantly. It was Katrina Vladova, his old partner who had disappeared in a failed operation against the Russians. Illari had assumed the worst about her and had always felt a pang of guilt over what he assumed had happened to her. When she was shot, and crawled under a van, Illari immediately went to aid, seeing what he could do.

Meanwhile, despite the knocked out communications that the caravan was experiencing, they still, somehow, managed to send some kind of distress signal and a VTOL in the employ of Edom arrived on the scene, strafing every enemy they could detect. It was clear Edom was not giving up the caravan without a fight. However, Luigi was able to place a shot into the engine of the VTOL sending it into evasive measures.

The team knew they had a small amount of time to investigate the back of the middle truck of the caravan. Wolfgang had plans to try and get the truck out but due to the damage it had taken as well as the carnage on the narrow road would make getting the vehicle out of the area unlikely without attracting significant Edom attention.

Cal jumped in the back of the truck and noticed that there was a room built within the truck. Illari was horrified at the idea that it could have been a mobile Red Room but when Cal examined it, it seemed as if the frame around the door leading to the room was covered in Egyptian sigils and runes that, as he quickly translated, seemed to indicate that they were some kind of incantation keeping whatever was inside, inside the room. The likelihood of it being a mobile Red Room, was thankfully, diminished, but whatever horrors was within could be far, far worse. But the pressure to open the boxed room was weighing on Cal, as if there was something calling to him from beyond.

However, in a strange turn of events, a truck rumbled up with Red Cross signage. And from the truck came the driver, Dr. Oskar Beaufort, the eccentric scientist whom the team had encountered twice before the past few months. Waving his arms wildly and gesturing for Illari, (whom he seemed to be specifically targeting), he yelled that there was a small amount of time before the ‘enemy’ arrived. How he seemed to find the team and how he managed to get to them was something of a mystery. However, Illari and Pascal seemed unwilling to ignore an escape route. They managed to extract some of the soldiers they had, as well as Katrina, and got into the Red Cross van, quickly donning Red Cross uniforms. Dr. Beaufort stated he would explain everything later but he had a safehouse they could use. When gesturing for Wolfgang, Vicente and Cal, they insisted upon staying with the Edom van and tried to make an escape. However, the road they took would soon be blocked by an oncoming Edom rescue team. Wolfgang decided the best option was to wreck the truck and ram the oncoming vehicles, destroying whatever it was in the back, in the process.

Wolfgang gave the order that he was destroying the vehicle, but Cal was reluctant as he knew whatever was in the back would be a fascinating find, however dangerous it might be. Nevertheless, Cal decided against opening the door and making his escape, instead. The last thing he and Vicente managed to grab before they left was a metal clipboard with a document inside. The document ended up being a precious clue as it was the Elvis Caravan Memo. including a mysterious reference to something called the Van Brunt Protocol.

As the team led by Cal, Wolfgang and Vicente fled into the woods, the team with Illari, Pascal and Luigi fled in Dr. Beaufort’s Red Cross truck, heading towards his safehouse, which he mentioned was in the coastal city of Oostende. There, he said, they would be safe, and he would explain what he knew. Cal, Wolfgang and Vicente would have to move through the woods and find a way out. The snow and frozen wind would prove to be a hazard with which they would have to contend.

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Episode 18: Whatever it Takes

February 6th, 2018 – February 11th, 2018

Still waiting the warehouse that Levi provided to the team, Franco Selvaggio desperately needed medical attention from the injuries he had suffered dealing with the terrorist cell. Vicente Rojas and Cal Morrison were unsure where Wolfgang Fechtner had gone and were in need of Illari Vasyl who had also gone off grid. However, their prayers were answered when Luigi Cardellini spotted Illari approaching with someone else. A quick check determined it was none other than Pascal Lerue, the man who had originally brought them all together.

As Illari quickly went to tend to Franco’s wounds, Cal brought he and Pascal up to speed on what was happening, specifically, the prisoners they had upstairs, one of which being Haluk Ozturk. Cal, livid that COS Lou Mangiotti seemingly double crossed them on the deal, was unsure what the best next steps were but for now they had to lay low. But time was limited because, if what Ozturk said was true, he was being relentless chased through the Middle East and Europe by some sinister force.

Meanwhile, Wolfgang had found his way to the bar that one of the river clans operated, where Marika Skinsky normally frequented. Figuring that she could help him avoid the heat, he tried to send her a message. But before she could arrive, the entire building was surrounded by Bucharest police, including their special tactical teams, doing a sweep of the area. Wolfgang was caught up in their dragnet and carted away. However, when they got to the police station, everyone in the back of the truck was led out except for him. The police put a bag over his head and took him elsewhere.

After an hour of traveling, the destination was reached. Wolfgang was taken out of the truck and drug to a basement. When the hood was removed from his head, he was in a long corridor with bullet holes and blood stains on the wall behind him, clearly once the site of several firing squads, sanctioned or not. A figure behind a door began to speak with him. The figure, while polite, was also firm. He explained that Hopkins was a liar and a dangerous individual who was desperate to be relevant. If Hopkins was truly a friend, he would not have gotten the investigators involved in a game they could not win. The man also suggested that people who Wolfgang loved could be hurt. After all, certain individuals could develop a taste for their blood . . .

Wolfgang managed to keep it together but obviously he was rattled. The man suggested that if things went differently, he could find a place for Wolfgang and his friends in his organization but the Dracula Dossier would have to be delivered to him. The man was impressed at the level of quality Wolfgang had put into the forgery he had passed off to Hamilton Hoyt and his associates in The Union after all. The man gave Wolfgang a burner phone to contact him later but cautioned his kindness and mercy was a one time offer. If they had to meet under such circumstances again, the situation would go much differently. Much differently.

After Wolfgang was dumped on the streets of Bucharest, he contacted the team and Illari went out to pick him up while he was out purchasing a silver solution he was going to adminisiter to Ozturk. When the two returned to their safe house, they debriefed with Pascal who revealed that the individual with whom Wolfgang was speaking was most likely the Duke of Edom known as Elvis. It was at this point that Pascal revealed the trove of information he had gathered on Elvis, one piece being a shipment that Elvis was interested in – something coming from Egypt to Brussels that he seemed interested in.

Cal knew that they either had to release Ozturk or kill him as they no longer needed him and merely being around him was a liability. The silver based solution that Illari administered was, hopefully, going to act as a bane to Vampires, specifically the one that was chasing him, possibly Dracula himself. They all agreed to contact Lou Mangiotti and try to negotiate a trade in exchange for either safe passage of information.

Upon contacting Magiotti, Cal was livid over the mess that had happened in Bucharest. Mangiotti was upset, as well, as explained his agents were not ordered to kill Cal’s team (evidenced by the fact that they shot at the tires and not at people) but explained that their intent was for Cal’s team to try and intercept Ozturk but let him escape. It had to seem real so Mangiotti’s men actually wanted the team to fail and let Ozturk to escape so they could follow him to the next link in the terrorist pipeline. Cal questioned Mangiotti on Elvis and Edom and did not really seem to know much about either, and Cal believed him. Of course, Mangiotti lost interest in Cal’s ravings when the mention of Vampires came up. However, in the end, the two men seemed to calm down and come to an agreement. Cal would turn over Ozturk and in return, Mangiotti would provide Fox Schillnger with more breadth, Mangiotti would give Cal access to Adam ‘The Cyclops’ Cylinksi, and he would make good on his promise to set Cal up with the bona fides to meet with his shady criminal contact. The contact, Sigmund Walther, was likely someone who could help them – for a steep price. But he would set up a meet when Cal wanted one but warned that dealing with Walther would be a dark experience.

Whereas the heat was still on in Bucharest, there were a number of things that still were open ended. They felt that there were investigations still warranted at Bichi National Bank, Heal the Children as well as the possible link to Vatican City’s Teutonic Cemetery and then there was the fascinating option of Pascal’s Egypt to Brussels shipment that Elvis seemed interested in. In the end, they decided getting what Elvis wanted or destroying it could land a nasty blow, even though it would attract his wrath. Pascal did, however, throw in one more complication – if and when they went to Vatican City, he was fairly certain he had an ‘in’ with an individual who could point them in the right direction of an item he was interested in and had been chasing down for some time – the fabled Spear of Longinus, an item, if real, could certainly be a legitimate weapon against vampires and even Dracula, himself.

However, in the end, the team decided the best plan was to hit the Axel Logistics shipment to Brussels. This had to be something that would complicate Elvis’ life. In the meantime, Wolfgang checked the details on Javed Al-Pari, the contact that Ozturk was supposed to hand over the coordinates to, and discovered he was on the radar of several intelligence organizations.

The group decided to investigate everything they could on the Egyptian shipment. Cal and Pascal worked together to find that the only thing that was likely the shipment was a shipment of Egyptian artifacts but was likely being guarded by two Edom trained teams. Fortunately, Cal was able to slip in and change the route to something more manageable for the team to hit.

Meanwhile, Wolfgang and Franco made a midnight run to Italy where they decided to raid the Cardellini armory, a well hidden cache of weapons that would likely come in useful to the Egyptian shipment hit. However, they ran into a pair of guards who were watching over the shipment. Spying on them for a moment, they were clearly not intelligence operatives but were working for someone who was clearly female and mentioned some kind of ‘predictive’ powers. Whether these were arcane or mundane in nature was not clear. Unfortunately a peaceful solution could not be gained and the two had a shoot out which resulted in only getting a few of the weapons needed.

Vicente and Illari set up a meet with Natalia Constantin in Bucharest to get more weapons and Cal set up a deal with Fox to get body armor. While meeting with the eccentric and likely insane Natalia, they were able to negotiate the deal with her but Illari snapped under the pressure of some of her comments regarding ‘shooting down commercial planes’ something that sensitive to Illari’s past. Vicente’s quick thinking and negotiation skills managed to calm the situation without it escalating to violence but Illari was unable to continue, stepping outside as Vicente impressed the young arms dealer.

Things were certainly falling into place.

But for whom?

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Episode 17: I've Got a Semi

February 3rd, 2018 – February 6th, 2018

Fortunately for Cal Morrison, he had several contacts in the Bucharest area, one of which was the mysterious Fox Schillnger, an analyst with the CIA who was notorious for being a kook and a conspiracy theorist, but also for his sheer brilliance at seeing patterns and visions in the data that he had collected. Cal knew that if anyone would be able to make some sense of things, it would be Fox and since he was predisposed to believe in oddities, he was the perfect man with whom to meet.

Lou Mangiotti knew that Cal and Fox were close and therefore decided to use Fox as the handler for the mission that Cal and the team decided to take, namely that of apprehending the suspected terrorist, Haluk Ozturk, a man on the run and spotted in Bucharest. Since Ozturk was suspected to be proficient in making so-called dirty bombs, his apprehension and interrogation was a priority.

A few days after Cal’s meeting with Mangiotti, he, Wolfgang Fechtner and Franco Selvaggio went to the appointed location to meet up with Fox to get their briefing as well as allow Cal the opportunity to speak with his old friend om other matters. Meanwhile Luigi Cardellini and Vicente Rojas waited back at their secret location, working on securing and unloading the weapons cache they received from Natalia Constantin.

It did not take long for Fox to demonstrate his eccentric behavior or show his desire to discuss unusual or strange patterns. They began, however, by discussing the Ozturk situation. Fox explained that Ozturk was a terrorist on the run, having fled Istanbul and was currently linked up with a cell in Bucharest. This was the perfect opportunity to scoop him up and send him off to a black site interrogation location to see what he knew. The data that had been collected so far, showed his connections were nearby, and the cell was using a couple of blocks of abandoned tenements. The group had close to a dozen men at any given time and it was clear the group was nervous and interested in protecting Ozturk.

After the official briefing, Cal asked about other things going on in the city and hinted there was something bigger happening, widespread that included the terrorist investigations, Heal the Children, Bichi National Bank, and the London bombings around Christmas. He suggested that some of the activity was centralized to some of the Romanian Mafia clans in and around Bucharest, specifically the Mirga Clanuri as well as the Ruvari Szgany. Call asked Fox to check into the clans, ‘’off-books’ and report back when he could. Fox said that wouldn’t be a problem, since Mangiotti had pulled him off his usual assignment, Bichi Bank, and had compartmentalized everything in Bucharest Station for the past few months. Fox also volunteered another piece of data; Mangiotti had gotten an important visitor the other day, a deputy press secretary for Russian president Vikto Petrov. The press secretary, Svetlana Tovorsky, was known to the team as Franco had run into her at a Heal the Children event, in London, the night of the London Bombings around Christmas.

Concluding their meeting, they went back to their safe house and worked on their equipment, impressed at the level of quality Constantin had given them. In their spare time, they reviewed the files on Ozturk they had been given.

The following day while getting their equipment ready and again looking at the Ozturk assignment, Wolfgang had a call. It was unknown with caller ID and when he answered it was a voice that, while disguised, claimed to be Hopkins. Whereas Cal tried to trace the call, the skill Hopkins had was able to prevent himself from being located.

Hopkins related the following information:

  • Hopkins was alive but regretted the death of Samantha Anderson
  • Obviously, Hopkins was in grave danger so secrecy was a must
  • Hopkins trusted Wolfgang and the team with the infamous Dracula Dossier
  • Bucharest was currently crawling with Edom agents
  • Edom had recently employed the notorious Hamilton Hoyt and his organization The Union to likely try and track down the team

However, when Wolfgang put Hopkins on speaker and Franco was able to hear, there was something that caught his attention – the fact that Hopkins used the word ‘only’ an excessive amount, and even in some odd places. He then recalled that when he first read the Hopkins Note, there was something similar. When Hopkins disconnected the call, he mentioned this to the others and they realized it was likely some kind of clue. It was at this point that Cal and Franco began pouring over everything they could and Wolfgang and Vicente went out to the location to observe the activities of the terrorist cell with which Ozturk was currently connected.

The observations that they made seemed to confirm much of what the CIA field analyst’s report had said – the group was nervous, more so at night and they seldom ventured forth. However, they suspected that capturing one of their errand boys and replacing him with a disguised member of their own group would be key in gaining access to the apartments. But before they could relay this information, Vicente noticed a truck pull up and several men get out. Upon observing the activities from across the street, Vicente not only noticed a strange robed figure in the apartments but one of the men who arrived on the scene was none other than Alfanso Gomez, a bitter enemy of his from his days in the narcotics trafficking rings back in Columbia. Gomez was a member of FARC and a highly dangerous individual. His presence in Bucharest was astonishing and it took everything he had from opening fire on this brutal individual who was responsible for the deaths of so many innocents. Wolfgang, noticing the strange behavior from Vicente, immediately called in the others to get to their location as things could go poorly.

By the time the others had arrived, Gomez’s business with the terrorists was over and he had left but they decided they would use this turn of events to act quickly against Ozturk and change the plan Mangiotti had put forth since Cal wanted Ozturk for himself, to conduct his own interrogation before – or instead of – turning him over to Mangiotti.

Early the next day, they executed their plan, replacing one of the errand runners with Franco and positioning the others to the roof to come in and take Ozturk. However, the plan held until the mysterious robed person, revealed later as a woman, noticed the inconsistency with Franco. As she attacked Franco and alerted the others in her cell, Vicente, Wolfgang and Cal took action. It seemed that through the chatter, they were suggesting that Ozturk flee to their garage and since Cal had done extensive research into the location, he knew exactly where they were headed.

Franco, Wolfgang and Vicente were able to take out the robed assassin but not before she had dealt a crippling blow to Franco. Luigi Cardellini approached the empty street with his van but when Cal arrived at the garage, he noticed two men with submachine guns waiting and a semi-truck revved up, likely with Ozturk in the back, trying to make their escape. As the semi rolled out, Cal took out one of the gunmen but the other prevented him from stopping the truck. Luigi picked him up in the van and as the semi rolled past the others, Wolfgang jumped on board, but Franco and Vicente quickly got into the van to give chase to the semi. However, as the van followed through the streets of Bucharest, the back of the semi opened and several gunmen, including Ozturk, were in the back, trying to gun down Luigi, driving the van.

As the semi rolled through the streets of Bucharest with insane reckless speed, Luigi and the others followed closely, taking out the two gun men in the back. However, Cal got a call from Mangiotti, furious that the plan had gone awry and demanded to know where Cal was and that their team should pull out. Cal hung up on him and within a few blocks CIA agents were also apart of the chase in their own sedan. It is when the CIA attempted to take out Luigi’s tires that Cal became furious, suspecting they were pawns the whole time.

Wolfgang saw that they were getting close to the docks and suspected Ozturk was trying to make his escape via speedboat. He used a grenade to blow the connection between the cab of the truck and the trailer. As the explosion detonated, the police were in hot pursuit but Cal had taken out the CIA vehicle that was on their tail as well. As the police tried to close in on the semi, the driver abandoned and Wolfgang took over, aiming the truck for the icy river, knowing that the cold February air was not going to be his ally.

Meanwhile, in the confusion, the team picked up a stunned Ozturk, turning a stun gun on him and loading him in the van. They his in a parking garage, switched vehicles and Franco made connections with someone he knew in the area, Levi, a street girl and protest organizer who was well connected in the underground movements in eastern Europe. Franco was badly hurt, the team had prisoners and they needed a place to hide. Levi was the best option for the time being.

Meanwhile, Wolfgang located the speedboat that Ozturk was likely heading towards, and climbed aboard, getting rid of the lone agent and sped off, determined to meet up with the team later. But first, he needed safety and needed to get warm as the cold water and February temperatures were going to quickly be lethal. So he went to the club that Marika Skinsky frequented, hoping to find allies there.

It was evident that Levi would likely be uncomfortable with the idea of torture, so despite how hurt Franco was, he took her on a walk, often limping along as they talked. This left Luigi, Cal and Vicente alone with Ozturk and a handful of questions.

Astonishingly, Ozturk revealed that whereas he did have some experience with bombs, he was hardly the ‘expert’ Mangiotti suggested he was, and had virtually no experience with dirty bombs – clearly the jacket on Ozturk had been altered, making him out to be a much more dangerous person than he actually was. He mentioned that his prior cell, in Istanbul, was attacked by a lone, demonic figure, late one night that slaughtered everyone in a bloody and ruthless fashion with Ozturk as the only survivor, escaping while the others were slaughtered. Ozturk had been on the run for several weeks and he was convinced that this evil creature was following him from city to city. He explained that through his connections, he had been in touch with representatives of one Omar Shakti, who gave him a code to pass on to someone in Rome, an individual named Javed Al-Pari.

When the team analyzed the code, they instantly recognized it was co-ordinates and Cal quickly discovered that they were the co-ordinates for a location in Vatican City, the Teutonic Cemetery. However, Ozturk had no idea that these codes were for a location and had likely never even heard of the Tuetonic Cemetery.

Satisfied they had gotten what they could out of Ozturk, they were still unsure what to do with him for the time being. On one hand, this was a valuable prize, as Mangiotti clearly wanted him but on the other hand, there was some demonic creature relentlessly chasing after him through eastern Europe. Would they be prepared to defend him from this creature or was it better to cut their losses and go? Or was it better to hand him over to Mangiotti, with whom Cal was still angry over what had happened.

The group turned to the code that Franco seemed to pick up when talking to Hopkins. There was something about the word ‘only’ that stuck out. Trying to figure out which terms or sentences came after the word was a dead end but then Cal remembered the strange turn of phrase that individuals of Indian decent used. They tended, when translating into English, peppered the conversation with ‘only’ much as Hopkins has done. So was it that Hopkins was from India or perhaps someone who had grown up in India? This was certainly an interesting development as the chasm opened wider for the clues of the Dracula Dossier.

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Episode 16: Old Friends

January 30th, 2018 – February 2nd, 2018

After leaving the meet up with Natalia Constantin and getting hold of some desperately needed equipment from the eccentric arms dealer, the team went into Bucharest, proper, to get set up at a mid range hotel downtown. Seeing as they may be soon dealing with the Mirga Clanuri and the Ruvari Szgany, they wanted to stay as far away from their spheres of influence as possible. Since the two groups were fairly dominant in the west side and east side of town, the central area seemed much safer for their purposes.

Cal Morrison set up a meet, through back channels, with the current Chief of Station in Bucharest, Lou Mangiotti. Cal and Lou had both been field agents some time ago and with Lou recently getting the run of all of Bucharest for the CIA, he was a well connected man who may know the lay of the land in Bucharest. However, Wolfgang Fechtner had more pressing interests, such as meeting up with his friend and romantic interest, Marika Skinsky.

Skinsky ran with a very tough crowd, as was the life of any smuggler in this area. But Wolfgang knew exactly where to find her. She would be set up close with some of the southern gangs, near the river, likely at one of several clubs that the gangs maintained. Since Wolfgang needed several things, among them access to some new vehicles, he, Cal and Illari Vassyl decided to hunt her down and pay her a visit. Franco Selvaggio stayed at the hotel to discuss things with Luigi Cardellini and Vicente Rojas again patrolled the area, keeping watch over any possible danger.

The bar they soon found themselves at was more of a private boating club, on the river. Despite the dead of winter conditions, the Dambovita River saw some activity with some boats in the river, some of them jet skis, attesting to the insane nature of some of the locals. Entering the club, they saw all manner of shady characters around the area, and Wolfgang immediately recognized Marika Skinsky across the room, involved in a high stakes card game with some of the more notorious personalities, among them, local boss Boris Borgo.

Upon taking a break in the card game, Marika came over to Wolfgang and embraced him, indicating to Cal and Illari that the two were just more than old friends, as there was a clear romantic interest there. Ass the two talked, negotiating some kind of business arrangement with getting some clean vehicles, Cal scanned the area and did pick up one individual in the club that did not seem to belong (later identified as a German BND agent).

Instead of a straight up sale, Marika had an interesting proposal for Wolfgang: a jet ski race along the icy river would determine whether or not she would get the vehicles free of charge or whether he would pay double. The offer was too tempting to pass up and within a half hour, the two were suiting up and heading down to the club’s docks with the entire bar in an uproar of excitement. Even Cal and Illari put down some bets, taking the underdog, Wolfgang.

The race, an exciting ballet of speed and agility through the icy waters, almost saw both vehicles overheat, but in the end it was Marika who came out ahead, and Wolfgang was forced to pay up. However, his grace in losing made the difference as the club seemed to embrace the good nature of the loser and the place erupted into song and dance with heavy, heavy drinking.

Marika made plans to get the vehicles and in a more relaxed setting mentioned that the two main rival clans were extremely preoccupied as of late. Obviously, the two groups had connections with drug trafficker, Cemal Gusa, the Turkish drug dealer, but she suggested that there was likely something deeper going on that was getting their attention. Further, she mentioned rumors of the human trafficker, Vasile Chitul and how he may have recently made contact with an influential individual who would give him better access to victims that he could ship around. This was, apparently, big news to Marika and some of the locals. Meanwhile, Cal discovered that if they wanted to make some good contacts in the area, Borgo was always looking for jobs to be done, mostly small time schemes and plans that would make them some much needed money.

As the group left the club, with Marika promising to come by Wolfgang’s hotel later to not only drop off the keys but also to stay for something more romantic, Wolfgang got a call from his contact in London, Charles Asante, the jeweler and pawnbroker. Apparently, Mr. Asante stated that someone recently came in looking to appraise an item very similar to the Hillingham Brooch. Wolfgang stated he would likely be back in a few weeks but in the meantime, Asante should purchase the item and keep it safe. Later when Cal tried to find CCTV footage in London, the effort proved less effective than he would have liked. Perhaps it was because the individual in question could not be seen on cameras . . .

While Cal worked on some of his projects involving his weapons and technology, Illari began working through the Dracula Dossier, looking for references to Bucharest or the general area. Perhaps he was hoping to find clues or context for some of the investigations they had going. Among some of the clues he uncovered were:

  • References to Pitesti Prison
  • A reference to someone named ‘Skinsky’
  • Ancient connections between Dracula and Ruvari Szgany
  • References in the annotations to the fact that one of the annotators suspected Heal the Children, the charity, was possibly a front
  • The possibility of drug companies having massive sales in blood thinners to suspect parties
  • The mind control powers of Dracula and his minions

It was at this point that Illari immediately went to Cal’s room to share these horrific revelations . . .

The following morning Wolfgang spent the day working on the van that Marika supplied to the team, enhancing the engine to make it much faster. But it was Cal who made it across town to a bridge where he met up with Lou Mangiotti. The clandestine meeting was in a small station house on the bridge, overlooking the Dambovita River.

Cal reconnected with the Chief of Station and congratulated him on his recent promotion. As the two talked, Cal seemed to detect an air from Lou that suggested that Lou was hiding something and holding back. Certainly, he was cordial and helpful, offering the support of the CIA to Cal’s operation in Bucharest, but warned him that he was still considered ‘outside’ the organization. Certainly, Eloise Buckley reinstated him, but it was still secretive. Whereas Lou Mangiotti was aware of Cal’s status, many of his operatives in the field and in the office may not be. So any support Lou would provide had to be in the shadows.

Mangiotti reiterated that the are over which he had control was running well and he did not want anything to jeopardize that. He also mentioned that Buckley had put out the order to have agents detain Franco Selvaggio to be brought back to London in order to be ‘educated’ into proper CIA protocol. Mangiotti’s recent visit from Tyler Gold, one of Buckley’s top operatives, was clearly intended to check up on his operation as well as pass on some of her details and instructions regarding Selvaggio. But Mangiotti also recognized the need for Cal and his team for supplies and resources. Mangiotti was willing to help out with this if the team was willing to do a couple of jobs; such as extracting an agent from a dangerous operation, locally, as well as conduct a kidnapping of a terrorist inserted into a cell of criminals. The terrorist needed to be handed over to one of their black sites, likely Adam Cylinksi, another older associate of Cal’s. Further, if they wanted to make so real money, he had someone else who was in need of some work – some darker projects that would pay well.

By the conclusion of the meeting, it was clear that Mangiotti wanted to meet with the whole team, as he had seen their Vienna antics from a few days ago on a tape he was given. He was especially interested in Franco as well as Wolfgang Fechtner. Even though Mangiotti stated he would hide his Franco from his agents and prevent Franco from being detained and sent back to London, Cal was mistrustful of the situation. Cal suggested that Mangiotti send an agent to provide the dossier of the terrorist and Cal would lead the operation to apprehend the individual.

Cal was nervous about the situation but it was a step in the right direction to gathering allies and resources.

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