Thursday, February 23, 2017

Enter the Matrix

I was going to post a review of the new Delta Green, in response to a reader request, but that will now happen in a few days because I've been distracted by something.

Over at the Tower of Zenopus, Blacksteel has been struggling with erratic game attendance, with players dropping in and out all over the place, and campaigns sputtering to a halt. I'm sure this isn't anything new and happens to all gaming groups at some point, but what I did find interesting was Blacksteel's solution.

You can go over and have a look, but I'll summarise. How it works is you put together a matrix of games and players, like so:

Players PresentWe Play
Alice, Bob, CharlieShadowrun
Alice, CharlieCall of Cthulhu
Alice, BobFeng Shui
Bob, CharlieRuneQuest

The idea is that ongoing campaigns remain viable because the players most interested in that game will be there for that game; you shouldn't get games that conk out through a lack of interest.

Henrik Bothe plate spinning On the other hand, what you've got here, more or less, is multiple campaigns running at once; that could be a problem if your game requires a lot of preparation, but it's alleviated somewhat if there are multiple gamemasters in the group. Another potential problem is that it may be difficult to keep track of progress in campaigns; were we hunting the slavers in Shadowrun or RuneQuest? Good notes and recaps would be more important than ever.

All that said, I like the idea. Although it is disruptive in the sense that you could be playing Shadowrun for two weeks, then Feng Shui for one, then Shadowrun again for a week, then RuneQuest, it's less disruptive in the sense that you won't get people dropping in and out of the campaign.

I don't think there's anything wrong with a West Marches style drop in and drop out game -- and I'd love to play in one some time -- but I do think it lends itself to more broad and shallow style play; with this sort of approach you can start to go into depth with plots and backgrounds and non-player-characters and tie them into the player-characters, because you know the players will be around to engage with them.

The other big advantage is that it offers up a bit of variety. You're not playing one game for big monolithic chunks of time, but rather playing lots of different things; it lets you try new games as they come out, and if they prove popular, perhaps put them into the regular rotation. My original gaming group sort of ran along these lines -- although it wasn't planned -- and so I played a lot of different games in my youth; I do miss that variety sometimes.

My current group is for the most part quite stable in terms of attendance and participation, and it's not a big group, so I don't know if this would work for us. We tend to play one or two hefty campaigns a year, with some shorter games in between; although there are regular absences they tend to be far apart enough that it probably wouldn't be practical to run alternate campaign or campaigns in those gaps. Instead, we tend to break out our ever expanding board game collections.

Even so, there's something about this model that I cannot help but find compelling. Perhaps there is a way to make it work with my group. We'll see.

Right! Delta Green next!

Friday, February 17, 2017

Pump It Up

The Red Line Corporate Solutions team has enjoyed a scuffle with some vampiric minions in Bucharest. Red Line has emerged victorious, but not without cost; Carmel has been captured and is being fed upon by one of Dracula’s Brides!

Natasha Avram, former Russian government assassin. Wears a lot of leather. Driven by money. Possible sociopath.

Sten Brodrington, ace driver who is a bit vague about which specific branch of British intelligence he worked for. He's looking for direction and purpose in life, or at least that's what he says.

Max Fischer, German investigator with a mysterious past. A little twitchy. He's hoping for some sort of redemption.

Carmel Shaked, Israeli break-and-enter specialist with a bit of a nationalistic streak. Carmel has had enough of secrets and lies.

Each member of the team has been equipped with a tracking device so Carmel’s colleagues know where she is but they suspect that she is in the hands of Natasa Dobra; Dobra has caused them trouble in the past and they are not certain they can mount a rescue without help. The question is where they can get that assistance; they are on the wanted lists of most European law enforcement and intelligence agencies, and there’s some reluctance to get the Americans or Russians involved.

The team decides to approach EDOM. It is safe to say that the relationship between the Red Line team and EDOM is strained; both sides have double-crossed each other, Natasha and EDOM agent Hound have something of a personality clash, and the Red Line team broke into EDOM’s base and stole its stuff.

All that said, EDOM is in the business of hunting vampires and the Red Line team has a big long list of the monsters’ names and locations, so there is some basis for negotiation. The team calls Hound and they discuss terms; in exchange for the vampire kill list, Hound agrees to provide an EDOM hit squad to aid in the rescue of Carmel, and the Red Line team consents to Hound’s request to meet afterwards, should they survive.

Kempton Water Works - - 31048 An hour or so later the team meets Hound’s operatives -- six tough-looking Brits -- in a park in Bucharest. Together the two groups follow Carmel’s tracker to a blocky, concrete building on the outskirts of the city; it appears to be a water pumping station, but the team is suspicious.

Natasha and a couple of the EDOM squad members snipe the building’s guards and Sten picks the lock on the main gate, before doing the same to the building’s front door. Billy and “Wiggles” from the EDOM squad are left to keep watch while everyone else goes inside. A quick sweep of the building reveals nothing unusual or suspicious, but nor is Carmel found; the tracking signal suggests that she is below ground, so her colleagues and their EDOM allies descend into what looks like a maintenance tunnel.

Carmel wakes up alone in a damp concrete room. It looks like the same room in which Natasa Dobra did… something to her, but Carmel cannot be certain. There are no windows, only one metal door; it is locked and Carmel has been stripped of her gear so has no tools with which to pick the lock; she tries instead to break the door down, and to her considerable surprise, Carmel smashes the door off its hinges. Weird. A concrete corridor stretches out ahead of her into the darkness.

Carmel’s colleagues also find themselves traversing a dungeon labyrinth maze network of indistinguishable concrete corridors, leaving a member of the EDOM squad on watch at each intersection as they get zero in on Carmel’s signal. A metal door bars further progress and the signal seems to be coming from beyond; again Sten picks the lock and Max enters alongside EDOM squad leader Carl.

Beyond the door is a small square room and on the floor is a woman lying in a pool of blood. Carl looks to Max and the German nods; the woman has her back to them but it looks like Carmel and she is wearing Carmel's clothes. As Carl covers him, Max approaches and kneels by his colleague.

It is not Carmel.

Things get a bit chaotic. Carl opens fire and turns Not-Carmel's head into mush, and Sean is dragged off into the darkness by an unseen foe; Sten mutters something about "ablative armour". Grenades are thrown and shots are fired, at nothing in particular.

Carmel hears the commotion and heads in the direction of the gunfire and screaming; she climbs a set of slippery stairs and is winged by a burst of gunfire from a twitchy EDOM agent, but shrugs off the injury. Weird.

The Red Line Corporate Solutions team is reunited but before anyone can get carried away with hugs, another EDOM agent is pulled screaming into the dark; Max pursues and follows a long smear of blood back the way Carmel came, down some steps his Israeli colleague avoided on her way up, and into some sort of underground reservoir.

All is still as Max awaits his colleagues and the two surviving EDOM agents, Carl and Jenny. A metal catwalk crosses the centre of the room and joins a similar walkway that runs around the chamber's edge. Below, dark water shimmers in the light of the team's torches. There is no sign of the missing EDOM operative.

The team splits and edges around the walkway, while Carl and Jenny cover the entrance; no one trusts the central bridge. It is when they are about halfway across that they are ambushed by burly soldier-types, who seem to appear from nowhere!

The Red Line team makes short work of its assailants, but Carl and Jenny are not quite as successful and take a bit of a beating before they subdue their opponents. Max goes around and beheads each of the attackers while his colleagues search the room. It appears to be a dead end, unless there's something in the water...

Given the injuries suffered by the team and its allies -- although Natasha notes Carmel seems to have recovered from her wounds in record time -- the decision is made to withdraw; there's no sign of Natasa Dobra, but Carmel has been rescued, and that's good enough.

The Red Line team is invited to return to base with the EDOM squad for medical attention; this base turns out to be the British Embassy in Bucharest, where they are met by Hound. It seems that relations have thawed in the aftermath of Carmel's rescue and Hound is more open to answering the team's questions; among other things, she confirms that members of Ibáñez Security Solutions are guests of EDOM at HMS Proserpine. Although Hound does not answer every question -- "You don't have the clearance for that." -- there is a feeling that EDOM is genuine about working with the Red Line team.

Hound excuses herself, warning the team that it should not attempt to leave the Embassy, and leaves. The Embassy is probably as safe a safehouse as they will find, so they decide to stay put for at least a short time and ponder their next move.

Carmel's local contact Dacien Comenescu checks in and confirms that -- after a little bit of undefined "trouble" -- he has found some of Natasa Dobra's old Securitate files; the two arrange to meet in the next few days.

Hound told the team that one of the methods EDOM uses to contact Dracula is by passing messages through the so-called "Wolf Gypsies"; the group is secretive and has proven difficult to infiltrate, but after some research the Red Line team uncovers an article, written by an investigative journalist named Cristine Barbu, that profiles a former elder of the clan, Sorin Lupu.

Barbu is Romanian but spends most of her time in London or New York, neither of which look like realistic destinations at this time. Lupu is not only in Bucharest but has made himself into something of a public figure, despite the general Romanian dislike of the Romani people; the Red Line team decides to pay Lupu a visit.

Next: as close to Mission: Impossible as we're going to get, probably.

Sunday, February 05, 2017

Bucharest Beatdown

The Red Line Corporate Solutions team has killed one of Dracula's Brides. Probably. Maybe.

Natasha Avram, former Russian government assassin. Wears a lot of leather. Driven by money. Possible sociopath.

Sten Brodrington, ace driver who is a bit vague about which specific branch of British intelligence he worked for. He's looking for direction and purpose in life, or at least that's what he says.

Max Fischer, German investigator with a mysterious past. A little twitchy. He's hoping for some sort of redemption.

Carmel Shaked, Israeli break-and-enter specialist with a bit of a nationalistic streak. Carmel has had enough of secrets and lies.

Buoyed by the apparent success of the vampire destruction ritual, the team plans to do the same to the other Brides; the problem is that the spell requires samples of the target vampire's blood and handwriting, and some of the earth from the vampire's grave. They don't even have the name of the London vampire, let alone any of the necessary ritual components, and it's possible that she has been either captured or killed by EDOM, so it's decided to focus on the Romanian Bride, Natasa Dobra.

Vineyards in Piemonte, Italy Before they do anything else they need to rest so they head to Carmel's sanctuary, a vineyard in Italy. The peaceful, familiar surroundings calm Carmel's troubled mind and everyone gets a chance to recover from their recent adventures.

During the week Carmel discovers that Red Line Corporate Solutions has been closed down as part of ongoing investigations into the team following its attack on the charity Heal the Children in London; Carmel arranges for some assets to be transferred to the Virgin Islands, but even so it looks like the team will have to rely on the funds stolen from EDOM for a while.

Carmel also discovers a message in one of her dead drop email accounts from her Mossad days; it seems to be from Hound, the EDOM operative the team met in Moscow, and it appears to be a request for a meeting.

The team is suspicious and a face to face meeting is rejected; instead, Carmel suggests a telephone call, and Hound agrees. They set up an elaborate -- and they hope, untraceable -- system involving bouncing the connection around the world and putting two physical telephones together, mouthpiece to earpiece, in a room in Shanghai, and they make the call.

It does not go well. The EDOM agent suggests that the team joins her organisation, gaining official sanction -- and funding! -- and as a result making the unwanted attention from Europe's law enforcement and intelligence agencies go away. A bullish Natasha acts as spokesperson for Red Line and alternates between outright rejection of Hound's offer and making implausible demands; the rest of the team follows the Russian's lead, with only Sten staying quiet.

In the end, all the two parties can agree on is an exchange of information; The Red Line team hands over half of the names from the Heal the Children's secret vampire list while Hound reveals the name of the London Bride -- Dominique -- and the location of Dracula. He is in Bucharest, claims Hound, but she is not confident of the team's chances in a direct assault.

A few days later the team sets off on a long drive to Bucharest; at the Romanian border the team is stopped by police who take a little too long to check Carmel's fake passport, but nothing comes of it and the journey continues.

In Bucharest, the team finds the local branch of Heal the Children, a small administrative office with only four staff, and puts it under observation for a few unproductive hours before Sten calls off the surveillance; there is a feeling that if Dracula is indeed in the capital, the team has little time to waste.

Carmel gets in touch with her local contact Dacien Comenescu, who expresses surprise that she is not deep in hiding given the hunt for her and her colleagues. Nonetheless he agrees to help Carmel -- an offer of €30,000 helps! -- and look for old Securitate files on Natasa Dobra, although he is not confident; most of the old documents were destroyed or hidden during the 1989 revolution, but it is possible that the Americans or Russians may have recovered something.

Communist Romania apartment blocks

Upon Carmel's return from the meeting, the rest of the team informs her that they have located Dobra's elderly father living on the fourth floor of an old Communist era block of flats. The hope is that he may have a sample of Natasa's writing in an old birthday or Christmas card, or something similar. The team heads to the flats; Max keeps watch outside, Sten stays in the car, and Carmel and Natasha enter the building. The Russian kicks the door in and pushes the old man to the ground; she gags him and ties him up while Carmel searches the flat.

Downstairs, Max spots four burly men rush into the building and warns Carmel and Natasha, then he and Sten pursue but find that the men have already made quick progress up the stairs. Carmel climbs out on to the flat's balcony and hides just outside the window, while Natasha takes up position in the corridor, ready to shoot.

The men come into the corridor and Natasha opens fire, spraying them with bullets, but they keep coming. Two rush at the, er, Russian, while the other two enter the flat.

Natasha doesn't fancy a fight with bulletproof opponents and clips a rope to the window sill behind her, then backflips out the window. Carmel, it seems, forgot to bring her climbing gear and after a brief glimpse over the edge to gauge the drop, hunkers down and prepares for a fight.

One of the men leans out the window and opens fire on the dangling Natasha, giving her a serious injury; aware of her precarious position she swings backwards, drops a couple of metres, and smashes her way through the third floor window.

Max and Sten make it to the fourth floor and open fire on the two men at the other end of the corridor, peering down at Natasha's escape route. Once again the gunfire seems to have little effect, then one of the men vanishes and reappears right next to Max!

Inside the flat, Carmel lobs a grenade at the other two men and although they survive the blast -- Dobra Senior does not -- they do at least seem a little battered and ragged as a result. Before Carmel can celebrate her relative success, one of the pair disappears then reappears on the balcony.

Frenzied mêlée breaks out but for once the Red Line team seems to have the advantage. Tasers seem more effective than guns and soon the men are subdued; a furious Sten takes the opportunity to hack the head off one of them with his combat knife.

Alas, this has all come too late for Carmel, who is grabbed by her opponent and teleported away. She comes to her senses in the back of a van speeding through traffic and manages to alert her colleagues by radio before she is thumped into unconsciousness.

The others pile into their car and Sten tries to pursue the van but the other driver proves to know Bucharest's streets better than the Brit. Sten can only swear as he gets stuck in traffic and the van zooms out of sight.

Carmel wakes up in a concrete room, tied to a chair. Four guards in military gear stand watch and with them is Natasa Dobra. Dobra doesn't say a word over the next few minutes as she kicks Carmel around the room, stopping only when the Israeli is near death.

Then the vampire bares her fangs and drinks deep.

Next: Pumpin'!

Saturday, February 04, 2017

Holy Waterboarding, Batman!

The Red Line Corporate Solutions team is on the run with a couple of dead(ish) vampires!

Natasha Avram, former Russian government assassin. Wears a lot of leather. Driven by money. Possible sociopath.

Sten Brodrington, ace driver who is a bit vague about which specific branch of British intelligence he worked for. He's looking for direction and purpose in life, or at least that's what he says.

Max Fischer, German investigator with a mysterious past. A little twitchy. He's hoping for some sort of redemption.

Carmel Shaked, Israeli break-and-enter specialist with a bit of a nationalistic streak. Carmel has had enough of secrets and lies.

Having captured a couple of vampires, it becomes apparent that the team has no plan beyond "capture a couple of vampires"; the British authorities are looking for the team, but it's not going to be easy to escape the UK with two headless corpses in hand luggage.

A number of possibilities are mooted. Sten wants a frontal assault and suggests a raid on EDOM's offshore facility HMS Proserpine, but the others are not keen. Carmel suggests a yacht off the coast of Montenegro, but this is deemed too ostentatious and expensive; even so, the general idea of using a boat as a hiding place is appealing and the team buys an old trawler in -- thanks to some persuasion from Natasha -- Russia.

Before the team leaves the country, Sten receives a call from his brother Bren, an employee of MI6. Bren warns his brother that after the raid on Heal the Children, the British law enforcement and intelligence agencies are on high alert and are looking for the Red Line team. He tells Sten to be careful and that he should keep his head down, and then hangs up. Sten relays the message to the rest of the team.

(Another member of the team receives a similar message from one of their contacts, but chooses not to pass this on to their colleagues. Even so it is clear that things are moving in the shadows.)

Rusty Kisses from RussiaOnce in Russia they settle into their new temporary -- leaky and rusty too -- home. The vampire corpses are encased in blocks of cement with the necks and hearts accessible; the blocks are then chained and bolted to the trawler's thick metal bulkheads.

Max is selected to re-attach the vampires' severed heads. He strips down to the bare minimum of gear so that if he is dominated by the undead the others won't have to contend with a fully armed killer, then he descends into the hold with the heads; the rest of the team monitors the situation over radio, having decided that cameras are a bit pointless.

The heads do not re-attach as expected. The team wonders if it is because it is mid afternoon and the vampires' powers are inactive; this proves to be quite correct as sunset brings the sound of anguished screaming and rattling chains from the hold. Max descends.

The team interrogates the Trumans and, finding the pair resistant to questioning, moves on to threats and torture, including the creative approach of using waterboarding the vampires using holy water.

Two things become clear: George and Mary Truman may be monsters, but they also truly love each other; and they are near the bottom tier of the vampire conspiracy and know almost nothing useful.

The Trumans are beheaded again and the team ponders what to do next. An email is sent to "Hopkins" -- the mysterious individual that started all this -- and the also-mysterious "King Arthur" -- who gave the team more hints later on -- detailing the team's discoveries and achievements so far -- including the break up of the London cult and the elimination of Heal the Children's leadership -- and asking for advice and suggestions.

While waiting for a response the team decides to try something risky. Ever since the incident in Rotterdam Sten has had some sort of strange psychic connection to the vampire -- suspected to be one of Dracula's Brides -- encountered there. In Dracula the original EDOM agents were able to track the vampire through his connection to "Mina" so it's decided to try the same with Sten.

They locate a nearby hypnotist -- a swaggering lothario named Dmitri -- and Natasha and Sten visit. Dmitri puts Sten in a trance and Natasha ushers him out of the room so she can question her colleague. It appears that a connection is made and Sten reports that the vampire is somewhere dark, but that he can hear a great deal of traffic, like that of a city centre.

It seems that the vampire is semi-conscious and as it is day time, Natasha suspects that the creature is resting in her coffin. She decides to wait -- Dmitri is being paid by the hour so doesn't mind -- and when Sten reports that the vampire has woken, Natasha is able to determine when sunset is at the monster's location. Further questions lead Natasha to conclude that the vampire is somewhere in eastern Europe, probably Romania.

Sten opens his eyes and it becomes apparent that now the vampire is awake, the connection goes both ways. Sten looks around the room but it is not Sten that sees.

Natasha brings Dmitri back in to break Sten's trance and, she hopes, the connection to the vampire. The Russian also turns a gun on her countryman when he asks for payment, so he dives out a window and runs off; he doesn't need mystical powers to know when he's in trouble!

The team thinks the Rotterdam vampire may be -- or rather may have been -- the Countess Dollingen of Graz, so the decision is made to break cover and head for Austria to find a sample of her handwriting; this will be used as an ingredient in a ritual -- from the spell book Le Dragon Noir -- to undo her immortality and destroy her.

Before they leave Russia, the team drops the two cement-clad vampires into the river, with GPS locators attached. The heads are locked in a box and hidden at another nearby location.

Graz Austria pano from SchlossbergAware of potential pursuit, the team flies to Hungary then drives across the border into Austria and on to Graz. They find a museum that purports to hold a letter written by the Countess and Carmel attempts to half-inch the document.

Carmel's player rolls 00.

Rudi, an out-of-shape but observant security guard -- indeed the only security guard on duty this afternoon -- spots Carmel's theft and confronts her. The team legs it, with Max smashing poor Rudi out of the way and into unconsciousness. Schlafen Sie, Rudi.

The team makes a rapid exit from Austria -- and mainland Europe -- and heads to a small island in the Adriatic, where the ritual is prepared. A few days later, the spell is cast; everyone in the team feels their vitality being drained and Sten is in agony as he feels as if something deep within is being torn and twisted. Everyone is brought near to unconsciousness as the spell takes its toll, but then there is a great release of energy and Sten feels -- for the first time in weeks -- free.

They don't know for certain, but they may have killed one of Dracula's Brides.

Next: one down, two to go.

Thursday, February 02, 2017

Charity Begins at Gunpoint

The Red Line Corporate Solutions team has invaded the London headquarters of Heal the Children!

Natasha Avram, former Russian government assassin. Wears a lot of leather. Driven by money. Possible sociopath.

Sten Brodrington, ace driver who is a bit vague about which specific branch of British intelligence he worked for. He's looking for direction and purpose in life, or at least that's what he says.

Max Fischer, German investigator with a mysterious past. A little twitchy. He's hoping for some sort of redemption.

Carmel Shaked, Israeli break-and-enter specialist with a bit of a nationalistic streak. Carmel has had enough of secrets and lies.

The team run up the stairs to the top floor, pausing for a peek at the other floors on the way; the building seems to be made up of generic modern offices and there are no overt signs of a grand vampire conspiracy. This is puzzling.

Still, they continue to the top floor, which contains a board room and what appears to be the CEO's office; in the office, an agitated man talks on the telephone, probably to the police. The team rushes in and subdues the man, but not before he can complete his phone call.

Carmel attempts to hack into a computer in the board room while Natasha grabs a laptop from the office. Max hears police sirens in the distance and the team cuts short its search and drags the man back to the garage downstairs, where he is bundled into the van.

Sten takes the wheel and takes the van out of the Heal the Children garage, just about scraping under the rising door. A police car blocks the team's exit, with another approaching, but Sten accelerates, using the weight of the van to smash the vehicle out of the way. The van pulls away, but the police are in pursuit.

Metropolitan police BMW 3 seriesCarmel hacks into the police dispatch system -- crippling her 4G data allowance for the month -- and creates false records indicating that the situation at Heal the Children is escalating; the idea is that the police will direct some of the pursuing vehicles to return to the charity's headquarters. The plan works and two of the three pursuing vehicles pull away and head back the way they came.

Natasha kicks open the back door of the van and opens fire on the remaining police car. The Russian assassin's shots are accurate and the driver loses control of his car, crashing into the central reservation. Natasha doesn't bother to see if anyone has survived the crash, and returns to her seat.

Some time and distance later, when the team is certain that it has evaded pursuit, the van is dumped, a car is stolen, and the captive -- a Patrick St George -- is stuffed into the boot. They drive on and drop in on Natasha's friend "Hatchet" Harry in London's east end, but he is not able to provide a secure hiding place; there is a brief discussion about whether Harry has been compromised, but the team decides to move on for now.

They drive to a quiet bit of Epping Forest and drag St George out of the boot. Carmel hacks the laptop while the others interrogate the captive. He claims to be the acting head of Heal the Children while CEO Jo Ramsay is in police custody -- arranged by the investigators as part of a deal with EDOM --and after a bit of persuasion -- he is shown the heads of the vampires the van was transporting -- St George explains what he knows about the organisation.

It is a legitimate charity, he says, but it's also a cover for a horrific kind of vampire tourism. With access to Romanian orphanages, the charity can send vampires over to the country to feed without fear of discovery or persecution, as all official records are controlled by Heal the Children. All the charity requires in return is regular donations to continue its good work; not all the donors are vampires, St George explains, but all the vampires on the books are donors. The team estimates that Heal the Children is working with just under a hundred vampires.

Sten is disgusted and furious, and Max forces St George to dig his own shallow grave before killing him. Meanwhile Carmel discovers that her ex-husband Arthur Hepworth has been receiving small but significant payments from Heal the Children; at first she wonders if perhaps he has written stories about the charity, but a quick internet search turns up no such articles. Carmel feels sick.

Carmel has been uploading the data the team has collected to a private server and has set it to send the information to a number of recipients should Carmel not send an all-clear message at regular intervals. Although she is not yet convinced of Hepworth's association with the vampire conspiracy, Carmel takes him off the mailing list for now, just in case.

Natasha scans the donor list and selects a family living in Chiswick; George, Mary, and Scott Truman. The Heal the Children secret files suggest that the Trumans are vampires and the team decides to pay them a visit.

The next day they disguise themselves as gas workers investigating a potential leak and approach the Truman house, Carmel and Natasha at the front, with Max and Sten sneaking around to the back garden. Mary answers the door but is reluctant to admit the team; her husband George comes to the door and is convinced enough by the team's cover story that he gathers his family to leave the house.

Carmel and Natasha spring into action, pushing the Trumans back into their home and brandishing firearms, while Max kicks the back door in. The Trumans prove to be softer than other vampires the team has encountered and George is soon gunned down in his kitchen while Mary cowers in the living room; their son Scott escapes during the fight, scrambling over the garden wall. George is beheaded but as the team moves in to do the same to Mary, she somehow takes control of Natasha and Sten and orders them to handcuff Max.

A scuffle breaks out but outnumbered as he is, Max manages to avoid the attacks of his team-mates until Carmel is able to shoot Mary in the head, which has the happy side-effect of ending her domination of Natasha and Sten.

With sirens approaching, the team gathers up the remains of the two vampires and escapes into the afternoon sun.

Next: interrogation with the vampires!