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.

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