The Vauxhaul Message

Leaving Katherin Altone’s body on the beach, Gabe watches as an unknown team of special forces remove the body and disappear. Meanwhile, Jim gets a call from his MI5 contact, Frank Kell, asking him to meet at the Charon Club. Frank delivers a heavily veiled warning: there’s trouble at the hear to MI6; Sanctuary has been mentioned and it looks like Jim is due to be delivered a message.

Jim visits his old friend from MI5, Barbara Knight, in her home in Oxford. The old girl is going a bit peculiar in her retirement, but once appropriately lubricated with her favourite beverage recalls some of the inter-agency drama of the 1970s, when a mole-hunt threatened to tear both MI5 and MI6 apart. She reveals that at the time it was heavily rumoured that a high echelon of cover intelligence had assumed control of the two agencies in the aftermath. They’re name: Edom.

Returning home that night, Jim spots that his house has been entered. A wiry man of Asian heritage and immaculate dress-sense is waiting for him in his kitchen. He introduces himself as Mr Peters. Peters makes it clear that his organisation is a higher authority than the normal intelligence services and that is aware of what the Sanctuary agents have been up to. He compels Jim to drop the investigation or suffer dire consequences. To add poignancy to his message, he proceeds to beat Jim unconscious in a sudden, explosive fit of violence. When Jim awakens, he finds he has been left a single gold coin, of ancient Turkish design – an odd kind of calling card, but chilling nonetheless.

Prior to arriving in London, Gabe had been on the trail of his sister Matilda’s killer. Although the Chicago PD had written it off as a drug overdose, Gabe’s own investigation revealed that there was more to it than a mere accidental overdose and that she’d been given something that left her writhing in pain, desperate for drugs to ease her torment.

Whatever she’d been given – and by whom – remains a mystery. But the only witnesses to the crime are all dead, either killed by Gabe himself in his lust for vengeance or by having succumbed to their own addictions. The only remaining lead was provided by her ex-boyfriend Todd Sanders. He told Gabe about a strange man Mattie had met at one Todd’s band’s gigs. He had long hair and a biker leather jacket, but his deep southern drawl seemed somehow old fashioned. It was he who supplied the drugs that night, before vanishing. One of Todd’s friends from his band days, Danny Roland, had been supplying Todd with a watered-down version of the same drug, known as ‘hyper’. So little known was the drug that Danny had been able to send it through the post since it hasn’t even made to a banned substance list. Gabe put Todd out of his ‘hyper’-addled misery and made his way to London to track down Danny Roland.

The singer proves relatively difficult to track down, but Gabe soon finds out the name of his record producer. One menacing phone call later and the pair agree to meet and spill their guts about the strange ‘hyper’ drug. But before Gabe can reach them, he witnesses them being attacked in their car, but a mysterious female figure dressed all in white. The lights in the car park flicker and when their car comes back into view, the interior has been left awash with blood. The occupants of the car have been eviscerated. The woman in white is already half way up the road. Gabe gives chase but the figure vanishes.

With the trail going cold again, Gabe traces the two dead men’s heavy metal connections back to a recording studio in London, the home of a company called Dark Brew records. Arriving on the scene, there seems to be little to find, but Gabe again spots a woman dressed all in white watching him at a distance. Subtly he tries to follow her as she descends into the underground station. He tracks along the tube, through several carriages before she disembarks at an unusually deserted station. Making his way through the gleaming warren of pristine tiles, he finds her waiting on an empty platform. Looking at him, she raises one finger to her lips and says ‘shhhh’. At that moment the light flicker and Gabe finds himself about to topple into the path of an oncoming tube train in the midst of a cramped and noisy station. And old woman tugs on his arm pulling him out of his near fatal reverie.

Now, with the Dracula Dossier unexpectedly dominating his time and trail cold, Gabe hasn’t paid much heed to his earlier mission. But with the AgriWealth situation resolved, Gabe heads back to the Dark Brew Records studio, aiming to use a bit of his downtime to see retrace his steps and see if he missed something. At the back of his mind there’s gnawing suspicion that somehow all these events are connected; that through the Dracula Dossier a veil has been lifted off the normal waking world to reveal something secret and rotten underneath.

Gabe take the others back to Dark Brew and though the place has been deserted, they find a cheap, home-made flyer for an illegal rave called ‘The Red Room’.

Aisha expands her research into the Dossier and turns up what might be a source of funding for the conspiracy – or conspiracies – alluded to in the document. Klopstock and Billreuth is a exclusive private bank located in Berne, Switzerland. She resolves to infiltrate their frequent intake of new, junior clerks and get some concrete info on where the money is coming from and going to, assuming that it anything untoward is even going on. This fact would at least give them some indication of the veracity of the Dossier’s contents and a money trail to follow.

Sanctuary begin making the preparations for Aisha’s cover story, leaving her with a few days to spare, so she and the others elect to accompany Gabe on his investigation. The Red Room rave turns out to be a nightmare of deafening double bass drums and wasted teenagers hurling bottles and themselves at each other taking place in a disused warehouse. The venue is filled with all manner of illegal drugs and an unusual number of teenagers inhaling a reddish, syrupy liquid from modified vape sticks. Just as the agents begin to make their way through to the back of the warehouse, they spot a group of interlopers moving through the crowd, systematically removing the bouncers with brutal efficiency. As bodies start to fall amidst the revels, shrieks of drug-fuelled ecstasy turn to scream of terror. A running battle ensues as the agents try to reach the rave organisers before the murderous gang do.

The organisers turn out to be members of the Turkish mafia, led by Tahir Dogan. In exchange for his protection, he offers the agents intel on his rivals, whom he refers to as ‘the Ladies in white’ and on his employer Cemal Gusa. All of them escape into the London streets as agents of the Ladies attempt to intercept. They slip out of Dogan’s filthy tower-block flat whilst a gang of armed youths, accompanied by a woman dressed all in white, make their way from floor to floor. Disaster almost befalls them as the lights in the corridors flicker and Dogan’s girlfriend falls into into a strange trance and desperately tries to leave their hiding place. Despite the police having been called and Tahir having summoned troops of his own, help takes far longer to arrive that seems possible, but with the girl subdued, the agents wait in tense silence as the Ladies’ forces eventually quit their search.

The trail of the Ladies and anything resembling a hint of the truth behind Matilda La Fleur’s death has once again vanished. SInce there is still time before moving the operation to Berne, the Sanctuary agents follow up on the strange coin left behind by Jim’s attacker. They try Sotherby’s and learn that the coin is seemingly a rare 15th century Ottoman coin. it is noted to be in an unusually untarnished condition. Before leaving, they spot an item of interest in the day’s auction schedule, called the Portrait of Dracula, by Francis Aytown. It shows the faces of two men, one young, one old, with very similar facial structure and large, identical scars. Consulting the Dossier, they realise this item is steeped Dracula legacy. Not only that butthe auction house is under MI5 surveillance. The agents bid unsuccessfully on the painting, but make an acquaintance of a rival bidder: Iulia V├áduva, an artist, collector and forecaster with a particular interest in Dracula. She suggests the painting is likely to be forged. Gabe arranges to meet her for dinner upon his return from Berne.


m1stershades AlW

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