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!

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