They awake the next day, sore but without permanent injury. Kore goes in search of another Mercedes. Jim receives a call and realises to his surprise that it is coming from the same number as the third on Dichsel’s phone. The caller identifies himself as Geerd Hoorn and claims to be from the BND. He reveals that he is already in Switzerland and offers to meet them in a cafe in town. Intrigued and not a little suspicious, the team consent while Aisha goes back to work at Klopstock & Billreuth, trying hard to mask the bruises from her altercation the previous night.
Hoorn has an interesting tale to tell; one in which he purports to have been a friend of Dichsel’s to whom he turned in desperation once he began to suspect what was really stalking him. Furthermore Hoorn proves a font of information on the supernatural forces the team have faced.
“Dichsel called me because he knew of my interests in the strange and unexplainable,” he says. “I can tell you that the creature you fought is no human being, not any more. It is faster, stronger, impossible to kill except through holy ritual. Even now it is hiding, regaining its strength, intent on feeding and coming after you once more.”
“It must have been recently turned – the shock of the transformation leaves them with little semblance of humanity but it will regain it in time, which will make it even more dangerous. The oldest of them is said to be as sly any cunning as any who have walked this earth and more so. But while this one finds its place it is at least vulnerable. It will have found itself a lair and a food source. I would like your help in hunting it down and destroying it for good.”
“Dichsel was my friend from years ago. He contacted me when he first suspected what was following him. Alas, I came too late and though I tried to warn him on the day of our meeting the vampire was able to corner him and kill him. The cross, holy water, garlic and sunlight. The Vampire fears all these things. But only through the destruction of its heart – steel is good, silver is better – and the removal of the head can it be stopped.”
In spite of everything, accepting the presence of vampires – a little known spook-story dreamed by up by some unknown writer of lurid fantasy a 100 years previously – goes against everything the team’s professional lives have been built around. However, a call from Julia Weissbrodt wipes away any lingering doubts – she says she had a terrible dream where a man approached her through her bedroom window where she lay awake and aware but unable to react. When they reach her house, she’s suffering severe blood loss and the only evidence of any trauma is a pair of faint puncture marks on her neck.
Meanwhile Aisha carries on about her normal day’s work at the bank as best she can. Having sussed the place, she pays closer attention to the kind of clientele the bank attracts. Along with an assortment of kooks and oddballs, she identifies someone of at least minor political import: one Prince Aimone, Duke of Apulia. As a claimant to the throne of Italy, he is widely known to have diminished but still significant wealth in land and estates. He also appears to conduct frequent business with the bank, wherein large sums of money are paid out to him, in cash. Aisha takes a calculated risk and manages to grab some photos of his banking records, each hand-written in the laboured style preferred by Klopstock & Billreuth. Handing these over to Jim, he is able to tell with little more than a cursory glance that if these are indeed part of regular pattern – and they go back decades, well prior to the Prince’s birth – then a vast fortune has moved from the bank into the Savoy family’s hands. The lingering question is where all this money is coming from?
That night, the team prepares to take on a real vampire, this armed with a more complete understanding of what they are up against. Even so, garlic and holy water are hard things to place trust in when you’ve spent your professional career with a gun under your pillow. To that end, they pull in some favours and arrange to pick up some heavy ordnance. pistols are swapped for small automatics and Kore returns with another Mercedes. Gabe gets his hands on a small amount of C4 and they prepare to deal with the midnight intruder at Julia Weissbrodt’s apartment.
Gabe lays the charge on the window sill, while Aisha and Jim lay in wait at the other entrances. Julia herself is pale and shivering in a cold sweat. Her transfusion at the hospital had a shirt term effect, but now that night has fallen, a change has come over her and she falls into a trance on her bed. Gabe waits patiently in the shadows for their prey to arrive.
Sure enough, as quiet descends over the sleeping city, the curtains begin to billow gently in an unfelt wind. Then a figure looms out of the dark, its face in shadows, body floating impossibly beside the apartment window. Gabe signals Kore and she revs the engine, directing the car to the front of the apartment block. Gabe waits until the vampire is just reaching through the window towards the prone form on the bed then detonates the C4. As he pulls the bed mattress and it’s sleeping occupent over himself on the far side of the room, the vampire is violently ejected in a blast of flame, splinters and broken glass. It lands with a crash on bonnet of the Mercedes and tumbles across the tarmac in a tangle of limbs.
Aisha, Gabe and Jim pelt downstairs and Kore looks on in bemused horror as the beast raises itself from the wreckage and begins loping away into the night. She fires up the engine again and the team bundle inside, then they set of in pursuit. The chase is short and desperate as the fleeing monster barrels between rows of houses while Kore races to out-maneuver it. She spots it scrambling along a road, floors the accelerator, aims the heavy vehicle for the ramped tail of a construction vehicle, flips the doomed car onto its side and smashes down onto the vampire’s body. The car grinds to a creaking halt, the vampire pinned beneath as car alarms begin their high pitched bleating around them. The team surrounds the snarling creature as even now it tries to tear itself free. Aisha pulls her pair of knives and deftly severs its head. Instantly, its the colour drains from its body leaving a dry, grey husk beneath, which crumbles instantly and drifts away on the wind. The team flee once more into the night.
Acknowledging that their time in Berne is near its end, Aisha begins to formulate a plan to conduct a more daring and comprehensive acquisition of the transcribed records residing in the bank’s secure computer room. Smuggling yet more electronic equipment on site, she is able to momentarily distract the dragon-like head of IT, Susi Isler, and plant a remote access point in her workstation. The high security in the bank can be turned against it by exploiting the fact that their IT infrastructure is ill-prepared to defend itself once the outer defences have been breached.
As Aisha prepares to leave for the day and carry out the data heist, she overhears the bank owner, arguing with someone on his phone:
Do you not enjoy the life this has – I have – given you?"
“You know the position I’m in.”
“Dammit, Aggi, he is my son too!”
That night, with Kore behind the wheel of yet another ill-fated Mercedes, they prepare to extract the information from behind the bank’s out-dated security systems. With the access point in place, this promises to be a simple case of logging in, waiting for the download to complete and making good their escape. Sanctuary has arranged for a plane to pick them up at the airport as soon as they can make it there.
They park up in an alleyway behind the bank. There’s no one around, except a few homeless people who pay them little attention. The download begins and the loading bar creeps achingly slowly towards its goal. All seems to be going smoothly until one of the homeless men raises himself from his sleeping place and begins shuffling towards the car. Tension rises as he approaches and the download bar continues its interminable journey. With a suddenness that is almost audible, the situation dissolves into chaos. The man reaches in his coat and raises a compact but dangerous looking automatic weapon and bullets thunder into the Mercedes’ bonnet.
A pair of white 4×4s attempt to box in the Merc as Kore reverses at high speed back into the main road. Trying to keep within range for the download to complete tests Kore’s driving skills to the limit. Gabe and Jim engage with the pursuing vehicles, blowing the tires out of one, causing it crash and block it accomplice. Aisha slips out of the Merc with the laptop to hide in wait for the download to complete as Kore evades yet more vehicles that are joining the chase. Around them, the city screams into full awareness as police sirens blare.
With a final agonising beat, the download completes and Aisha slams the laptop shut, but now she’s on foot, pursued and alone. She darts up the streets, ducking a weaving behind any obstacle she can find. The sound of heavy boots and barked commands hound her every turn. She manages to find a temporary hiding place from which to ambush a pair of the black-clad soldiers and, leaving them unconscious, she takes advantage of the temporary respite to secure a vehicle and escape.
All bridges appear to be under police lockdown for the time being and the team is soon forced to abandon their vehicles and cross the rive Aare on foot. Gabe pulls Kore close to mask their faces as they pass one checkpoint and they acquire a new vehicle from a car park on the other side. At last they have a clear run to the airport.
On the runway, the waiting pilot peers anxiously out of the Cessna cockpit as the agents scramble over the high fence surrounding the runway. They are within shouting distance of the cabin steps when a black figure leaps out of the darkness into their midst. But by now the Sanctuary agents are too close to their prize to spare much time for something as mundane as supernaturally-enhanced covert operations soldiers. In an instant, they all have their weapons drawn and their attacker is left in torn heap of lifeless neoprene, slowly leaking soil on the moonlit tarmac.