The Albanian Recurrence

Gabe stands on the roof of the guard hut, squinting at his colleagues crouched by the prison hut. Kore kneels at the door, tiny lockpicks moving in her fingers. Her pose and the light is the same as the night of their second date. Gabe smiles at the memory.

Gabe entered the restaurant at the top of the BT tower, central London. The room was decorated in a 70’s style, and they were reminded on booking to dress to match.
He wore a big suit, low cut trousers and Italian leather shoes with ridiculously long toes. The shirt was brash, large collar standing proud of the jacket.
The maitre d’ let him know his date hadn’t arrived yet, so he got a whiskey at the bar.

The lift doors opened again and Kore walked in. She was wearing a 70’s white cat suit – split to the waist. Gabe gulped his drink down.
They had a quick cigarette on a open air balcony, 20 stories above the city, then went to their table.
Gabe buries himself in the wine list, picking a Californian red. They are both more nervous than their first evening.
“Kore!” a man shouts over the background chatter. Kore turns, “Alex?” she says,”What you doing in London?”
Alex is her brother, he joins the couple without being invited. Two large bodyguards stand behind him.
He explains he had some problems in Bulgaria and had to leave on fear of death. He looks at Gabe and Kore, “You on a date?”
Kore says “Yes…”
Gabe tries to lighten the mood, joking with Alex’s bodyguards, who remain unamused.

A commotion at the door, attracts their attention. Burly masked men enter carrying SMG’s. People scream, they shoot their guns to get attention.
Their leader calls out “We are looking for Corey. Where is he?”

Alex stands up – “That’s me” Kore tries to grab him but he gets grabbed and taken to the lift down.
Kore starts to stand, but Gabe pulls her down, “Not now!” he whispers. She takes a steak knife off the table.

Alex is taken down in the lift. Kore pushes the lift call button, eventually it comes and they all ride down. At the bottom a car is disappearing into the dark city streets, leaving four guards in the lift lobby. Gabe pulls a pistal and shoots a fire-extinguisher, causing it to explode, covering two nearby goons in powder and foam. Frank punches another goon and takes his SMG as he falls. Kore angrily stabs the final guy through the eye-hole of his balaclava. Gabe nods appreciatively. Quips (?)

Frank slices the ear off one of the goons, “Come on” growls Gabe.

Kore grabs Gabe’s keys for his Audi Quattro parked in front of the tower. Frank and Gabe climb in and Kore floors it in pursuit.

Chasing through the London streets, the car in front is driving hard, Kore swerving on pavements keeping up. She punches buttons on the 8-track until Anarchy in the UK blasts out of tinny speakers in the doors.
Two VW camper-vans screech out behind, firing SMG’s at the Quattro. Gabe hangs out the back door, swinging around on seat-belts, returns fire blowing the front axle on one, Frank shoots at the car in front, damaging it.
At Blackfriars bridge the damaged car in front swerves and hits the bridge pillar. Goons bundle out, manhandling Alex with a bag on his head. They run towards the looming Tate Modern building south of the river. Gabe and Frank take off in pursuit a little way behind. The Albanians enter the gallery and the team lose sight of them. Inside, Gabe hears sounds from up the stairs, and they charge up the stairs. At the top there is a gunfight on the stairs, Frank kills one goon, Gabe pushes Kore out of the way of a shot, taking it himself in the back. The remaining goons have disappeared through a door to the roof.

The chop-chop sound of a helicopter is getting louder. On the roof the hooded Alex is standing, with other goons. A short gun-fight, and Kore grabs Alex, pulling the hood off – it’s not Alex.
The helicopter comes over and destroys the roof with a minigun – Frank fires at the heli, a perfect shot, it dips but flies away.

Phone call, meet at the Battersea Peace Pavilion. So the team get guns. Lots of guns. Cherry Bomb plays on the radio, Gabe looks down a shiny grenade launcher barrel at Kore, checking it’s clean. Frank pushes bullets one by one into an AK74 magazine, Kore handing them to him. Kore snaps the shoulder clasps shut on her body armour.
She gives them both a stern look “Don’t hurt my brother.”

They arrive at the pavilion hours before the agreed meeting. Gabe and Frank climb up onto the sloping pagoda roof, taking sniper positions.

Kore waits at the front, on the entrance steps, watching.

“Movement to the left” Gabe calls, “Sniper on right” Frank says. Cars approach, headlights lighting up the trees in the park. Two soft coughs as Gabe and Frank shoot the approaching snipers.

Three cars brake hard thirty feet from Kore, and goons pile out. The headlights make visibility difficult, but she sees Alex handcuffed and blindfolded.
“Walk forward and we will swap” the goon leader shouts.

Kore walks slowly forward, Alex steps forward toward her. She listens to Gabe and Frank in her earpiece. When she is close to Alex, Gabe calls “Grenade coming”, and the lead car explodes, lifting in the air.
Automatic weaponry fills the air, Kore dives on Alex, covering him. Bullets thunk into her body armour, wounding her.
Frank and Gabe lay down fire, taking goons out quickly. Then the pavilion explodes as a chopper flies overhead. Kore watches Gabe continue to fire at the ’copter as he falls through the flames.

As the debris rains down, Kore is shot in the stomach, below the body armour. She starts bleeding badly. Frank crawls out of the rubble and shoots the helicopter – black smoke starts pouring out of the engine. The chopper sinks low, and scoots away.

The Albanian leader walks up to Kore on the ground, his gun raising. There’s a gunshot, and Gabe’s bullet takes him between the eyes, he drops.

The Sanctuary Redemption


Van Helsing's Labyrinth

Putting Victoria into a secluded inlet off the Norfolk coast, the team travels inland to London, still hunted by Edom. The explosion in the North Sea is all over the news, but they manage to avoid any official attention.

In London they call Augustus Darvell for assistance, who is trying to trace the buyer of a book about vampires Le Dragon Rouge, He knows who sold it and the agent that carried out the purchase, but not the ultimate buyer, and he’s afraid it’s Edom. He gives them the name of the agents – Meyer and Van Der Marr on Charing Cross Road – and they scout out the premises. The place looks very low security so Aisha and Kore break in when they see the old man go home. Most of the books in the place are old German and Dutch texts.

Eventually they find Meyer’s office, guarded by Mr Van Der Mar, and his ledger. This seems to indicate that the buyer is Geerd Hoorn, giving an address in Leiden.

Sensibly avoiding railway stations, they head to a ferry port and take a long crossing to Rotterdam, before heading south in a hired car. Pretty soon it’s obvious they’re being tailed, by two women dressed in white driving a gleaming white Lotus Evora. Intercepting them at a service station, Aisha steals one’s phone while Ollie makes a network contact with the other.

Later, Aisha attempts to hack the phone – it’s deviously constructed and looks like a complete custom job. She can tell, though, that the programmer is Romanian from the fingerprints he left in the OS code. She eventually ditches it in a garbage truck and heads to Paris with the two samples taken from the oil rig.

Kore and Ollie visit the address from Meyer’s ledger, which turns out to be little more than an accommodation drop. However, they find a clue which leads them to a Victorian townhouse in Amsterdam, which, on examination, still has Van Helsing’s study in the attic, bricked off and forgotten. A portrait of the man himself hangs above the fireplace, looking suspiciously like an older version of Geerd Hoorn himself. In a secret drawer they also find a packet of letters from a Monsignor Augustus Darvill of the Bucharest offices of the Vatican, notes on Le Dragon Rouge which tells them it has ‘rituals’ for permanently killing a vampire, as well as rituals for finding one and hiding from one. There’s also a postcard for Teyler’s Museum in Haarlem, and a poem and a cryptic phrase written in ballpoint on the back.

Teyler’s Museum has an observatory on the top floor. The clue there leads them to another clue, which in turn leads them to Franeker in Friesland. On the way there, they encounter an MI6 agent who attempts to steal their bundle of Van Helsing documents. When this fails, they interrogate him, but he doesn’t know anything, just that he was tasked with stealing these things. Kore restrains Gabe and they leave the man bundled in a deserted railway station cupboard.

In Franker, they find the Eisenga Planetorium, where another clue contains an address in the quaint viallage of Geithoorn. At this address they meet Marijo Gietling, an elderly but spry little woman who claims to be Van Helsing’s grand-daughter, and Hoorn’s aunt. She tells them a little, feeds them, allows them to explore he library. In it, they find yet another clue in what Marijo describes as ’Abraham’s Labyrinth’ – referring to Van Helsing – at the centre of which he hid some powerful weapon he used in his war against the nosferatu.

The next morning they set off for Bassenge in Belgium, home to the Tower of Eben Ezer. Although built in the 1950s, it sits on top of much older caverns. However, they decide to examine the statues on the roof first, uncovering a pair of fiddly multi-lensed spectacles, and an unmarked map.

In the caverns, though, they come across Hoorn, lying stabbed and bleeding. Someone has attacked him, probably to get at Le Dragon Rouge, which he’s taped to the underside of his car. He also gives them the last clue, leading to the Paris catacombs. He also tells them the following:

1. One of Dracula’s generals is attempting to infiltrate Edom in Romania. Dracula wants the weaponised vampire serums for his own ends. If he takes over Edom, he’ll have the whole of British Intelligence at his fingertips. That needs to be stopped.
a. There’s already some sort of power-struggle going on since the head of Edom died in 2015. Exposing this link could fracture them altogether.

2. Edom have wanted to be able to create and destroy vamps at will; to use them as weapons but also to break Drac’s power-base.

3. The source of the blood serums is a vampire they keep at a secure location, some. old British, Napoleonic-era fort. Destroy that source, you seriously limit Edom’s strength.
a. HDG shipping are transporting the serum to secret sites around the world. It was tested in Morocco, but something went wrong and they lost the base. He found this out from his connections to the dock workers in Rotterdam.

4. Edom has been trying this since the original mission. They created a lot of monstrosities along the way, but have pretty much nailed it now. The newer breed of vampires are more stable, but easier to kill.

5. There’s some sort of meeting planned soon where Edom will discuss timescales for some test of the weapon.

Kore retrieves the book and they head for the French capital.

As they approach, they spot a man and a woman they saw at Bassenge, and follow them, right to the Barriere d’Enfer, entrance to the catacombs. Ollie and Aisha get in first, set up an ambush, kill the man and capture the woman. She’s Edom, one Vicki Rendall, and they’re able to flip her to their side.

In the heart of the catacombs they find a box hidden in a stone basin; in the box is a Gladstone bag containing Van Helsing’s Vampire Killing Kit. They shrug off an attack from a denizen of the underworld, Aisha skewering it with Quincy Morris’ Bowie knife and escape.

As they leave, they each receive a message – RushbrookeFletcher.co.uk, Moscow Rules. Following the hidden link, they come across an encrypted channel telling them they have as resxervation at the Restaurant Jules Verne, on the Eiffel Tower, where they meet, much to their surprise, a very alive Jim Ellis…

The Rushbrooke Agenda

Kore was smoking at the back door, when her iPhone rang muffled – an unknown number. On answering a mysterious male voice asked her if she would be interested in him helping out on a burglary of sorts. He identified himself as Adrian Rushbrooke, of Rushbrooke Fletcher, and Kore was out the front door on her way to meet him before the others in the house realised.

He picked Kore up in his Aston Martin DB11. He was distinguished, 50’s and dashingly grey?
He explained his situation to her on the drive out of London, into the green countryside.
He had discovered a book that he wanted, and that would be useful against vampires, was at a country house, and through some contacts he had finangled an invite to there for a party that evening. He wanted Kore’s help to steal the book, called Le Dragon Noir which would doubtless be guarded and locked away.
“Cool!” she smiled.

They arrived at the party in the early evening as the sun set. Expensive cars lined the driveway and curved around the gravel space in front of a large sprawling manor house. The rich and privileged walked around and mingled, Adrian and Kore parked and exited the car. DRESSED?

Inside the double front doors, the gathering was denser. Attentive waiters offered drinks and crudite to them as they entered.
“Let’s split up, you search for the book, I’ll disengage the security systems” Adrian offered.
Kore explored a few of the busy downstairs rooms, nodding and smiling at the other guests as she smoothly worked her way through the chatting groups.
There were guards, barely disguised in dinner jackets, blocking certain doors and she sensed a division in the guests, some were more trusted than others. Kore considered, but decided against trying to get through. Over her earpiece, Adrian confirmed he had found the security office. “The book’s probably kept in the North wing, go there” he commanded.
Annoyed she explored the outside, she joined a few other people who still smoked. A path lead through shrubbery around to the north. She watched the few scattered people, then when no-one was looking her way, slipped off into the garden and around to the north.
The North wing was extensive, and guarded on the ground floor. No guests were visible. At at dark corner, she ripped off the skirt of her dress, a short strip of fabric for modesty. Out of her purse she pulled a thin fabric backpack, shook it out, and put her skirt, shoes and purse in, then swung it onto her back.
Beside her a cast-iron drainpipe rose up to the second floor, and roof line. She shinned up along the stone carvings to a second floor window. A quick, delicate explore with a thin metal blade and the window was open, and she was in an unused guest room.
“Hurry up” Adrian suggested.
She explored the floor, hiding from a maid. More guest rooms, some used.
At the end of the wing were double doors, thick dark wood, old and tough. Carefully picking the lock and disabling the magnetic alarm sensor, Kore enters the large room.

Surrounded by clear floor stood a display case, with a large, medieval looking black covered book.
Kore carefully climbed under and over the invisible laser lines that diced the air around the case. With a small screwdriver and pick she clicked open the lock holding the glass front, and held the alarm sensor closed as she opened the front and extracted the surprisingly heavy book.
The book in her backpack, she told Adrian, as alarms sounded. “Get out!” he ordered.
She slipped through the beams and out along the corridor. Guards and trouble were coming, so she snuck into a side door, an office. Disabled the window alarm and slipped out onto the ivy covering the wall of the the west side of the North wing.
Climbing down, the ground floor was well lit, windows open. She could hear a conversation between several men. She was working her way round when the contents of the discussion made itself clear, and she hung there, on the side of the building, listening.

Guests and guards were moving around below, and she had to leave. Dropping down she ran around to the front driveway. There were gaps in the rows of cars, but the DB11 was still there, Adrian was not yet.
She worked her way to the car as guests departed panicked. Her hand opened the passengers door. There was an explosion, the car door flew out to batter Kore as a bomb exploded on the drivers side.

Lying on the gravel, hurt, bleeding and dazed, Adrian Rushbrooke appeared and took the backpack off her.
“Thanks” he said, and walked away. Kore tried to stand, but it took a minute for her vision to clear and the world to stop spinning. Standing she could see Adrian driving calmly off in a queue of other vehicles. Around her were damaged cars and frightened guests, running for shelter.

Kore found a Lamborghini nearby that looked drivable, the car keys in the ignition. She drove off, fishtailing on the gravel, the low-slung underneath grinding over speed bumps on the drive entrance.
In the lanes she couldn’t keep up with him, blood kept running into her eyes and she had a splitting headache.
She stopped the car on a back lane and a motorbike pulled with two women in white leather on it.

The Feral Child

Aisha had previously visited a site referred to in the Dossier under the streets of Plaistow, following borrowed satellite thermal imaging. There she had found a rage-filled spectre which had left her nearly for dead. Soon afterwards, children begin to go missing.

After Berne, they decide to return. In the ruins of what they think initially is Carfax, they find the abandoned journal of Jonathan Seward. They also realise that the ruins are actually of his asylum but Carfax is not far away. In both places there’s plenty of evidence of human & vampiric experimentation, the remains of a special forces team from the 1970s and evidence that the entire structure housing the ruins had been reinforced.

Following the trail of bodies across East London, they trave a path to Whitechapel. From Seward’s journal. they discover the story of Lily Corcoran, daughter of Irish immigrants, snatched off the streets by Seward and subjected to various tortures designed to create a vampire, but ultimately created the monster itself. A Ripperologist pointed them at a pub in Whitechapel that had been the Corcoran’s home in 1894, arriving just in time to be attacked by the monster. As it trashed their Range Rover and fled into the night, they’re then assaulted by MI5 agents.

They vanish into the night, stealing a smartphone from one of their pursuers and find that GCHQ have them all on a wanted list. Sanctuary is under observation and, the next day, Mr Peters kills Jim by throwing him off a building into the Cross Rail works.

Aisha soon spots the teenage form of Lily and befriends her. She’s looking for her family, confused by the changes to London in the 120 years since she vanished. She tells Aisha she’s also looking for the ‘bright lady’, pointing to the north-west. Confusion ensues as Lily runs off into the metropolis and the others flee from more MI5 agents. They head for Sanctuary to find it under heavy surveillance. The Dossier is there, but so far there’s no pressing need to get it.

They trace files from Klopstock & Billreurth to the Hillgham Trust, a property management charity which owns various mansions in Hampstead Heath, many of them abandoned. Upon further investigation, they discover one of the houses is the Westenra home, site of Lucy Westenra’s death.

There they meet Langdon again. He explains that Eidolon is a faction within MI6 that is working to bring down not only Edom but Dracula himself. Because they have the Dossier, and have upset things in Berne, Edom have targetted them. The answers, he tells them, and the key to Edom’s downfall, lie in HMS Prosperpine.

At a nearby graveyard, they find what purports to be Lucy’s grave, but it isn’t Lucy in the coffin. Kore speaks to the local deacon, and then they retreat to the house for surveillance. Later, the Deaconb wanders around the house and makes a phone call – soon after a team of MI5 agents show up and assault them.

They escape, capturing one. Private Jeffrey Church of 2 Para was listed as killed in Afghanistan, but claims to have been recruited for this special task force. Using this knowledge against him, they turn him as an asset.

Piecing it all together, they head back to Hillingham and wait for Lily to arrive. Distracting her, Ollie puts a bullet in her head and they watch her turn to dust.

With one problem solved, Kore tells then she’s overheard a conversation between three Edom dukes that they’re about to raid Sanctuary and seize the Dossier. They rush to Poland Street and break in past the MI5 watch team, but are interrupted when an assault helicopter drops more troops on them. They escape with the Dossier – Gabe shooting down the helicopter from a roof across the street – and, after a chase across central London, escape on the river, safely in posession of the Dossier again.

The Savoy Contingency

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.

The Berne Connection

The exclusive, private and somewhat mysterious Klopstock & Billreuth bank was mentioned in the AgriWealth financial data and has ties to the Dossier. As such the financial institution has apparent ties to what is emerging as a global conspiracy of unknown scale. It there proves a tempting target for Sanctuary to infiltrate and learn more about the organisation they have found themselves at odds with. In spite of what they’ve seen so far, the concept of genuine vampires still seems too far fetched, but money doesn’t lie. With a solid cover identity in place, Aisha prepares to join a batch of new recruits and get a good look at how the bank operates and assess opportunities to take more proactive requisition of its financial data. The rest of the team travel with her to Berne, Switzerland, headquarters of the bank, to act as backup if needed.

The mission takes an uncomfortable turn the moment the team arrives in Berne airport. Their Sanctuary contact, Sebastian Dichsel, is nowhere to be found, neither at the arrivals terminal nor at the fallback rendezvous. The team trackdown his place of residence and question his landlady who informs them that he has been killed in a terrible accident.

“Oh it is terrible – they say he fell into a zoo enclosure. By the time the zookeepers arrived, the wolves had already attacked him.”

She allows them into his apartment where they are able to locate the last few pieces of Aisha’s pre-arranged cover identity. The rest of the team begin to investigate Dichsel’s death while Aisha heads to her first day of work at the bank.

Klopstock & Billreuth’s recruitment policy is unusual. Aisha learns that they frequently take on batches of heavily screened applicants, all of whom serve a short contract before being dismissed with a respectable bonus. Only a lucky few ever get to stay in a permanent position and the recruits appear eager to one-up and denigrate their fellow hires if it means they’ll get a better chance at the highly sought after permanent roles.

The recruitment policy is not the only unusual thing about the bank. It has an overwhelmingly old-fashioned approach to banking and technology in general. The huge wood-panelled open-plan main floor has no computers of any kind and both staff and customers are relieved of any electronic devices upon entering. In addition, the majority of the banking records are hand-written and, when needed, are laboriously transcribed into the computer systems kept in a secure IT room at rear of the upper floor. Aisha’s job is to conduct transactional information from the records room enter it to the electronic systems inside the cramped and stifling computer room, under the hawkish glare of the IT manager Susi Isler.

Meanwhile the rest of the team visit the Tierpark to get CCTV footage of Dichsel’s final moments. They see him arrive at the wolf enclosure, before static washes across the scene. When the image returns, Dichsel is fighting to climb up the enclosure wall while the pack of wolves begins to circle. Realising his danger, he makes a dash to get away from before disappearing from the camera’s field of view. A few moments later, a grey-haired man in his 60s reaches the site and looks around. Then he presses a mobile phone to his ear and moves off screen.

Seeking out the detective in charge of the case, the agents manage to convince him to let them examine Dichsel’s phone. Carefully retrieving and cloning the SIM, they search for any contacts that he might have spoken too before his death. Three numbers stand out – two local to Berne and third to a mobile phone registered in Germany.

Following up the phone numbers builds a picture of Dichsel’s life in Berne. He had a girlfriend, Julia Weissbrott, a local school teacher with blonde hair and a rough woollen sweater. Gabe manages to break down her initial hostility and she admits she had some suspicions about Dichsel’s profession. She says she had a lot of connection in the poorer parts of the city especially among the immigrant communities. She recalls a time she was taken to a lovely, if unlicensed, Turkish restaurant and Dichsel shared some quiet words with the manager.

This information correlates with the heavily accented voice at the end end of the second phone number. The team make their way to a downmarket, grimy city block on the west of town and meet Fuat Maroush, proprietor of the reputed ‘restaurant’. With a little questioning he reveals that it was he who help Dichsel organise Aisha’s cover but that had no contact with Dicshel after completing the job. He does recall that Dichsel had expressed concern about being followed and that he was increasingly paranoid that his small investigation into Klopstock & Billreuth had raised some unwanted and unexpected attention. From whom, he did not know – he only told MAroush that he was seeking outside help.

Aisha’s unusual workday concludes; she and the other contract workers leave the bank and begin to make their way back to their various accommodations. For security, Aisha has arranged to be picked up but not in the near vicinity to the bank. As she picks her way through the expensive, tidy and surprisingly quiet city streets, she spots a man following her. He his wearing a long dark coat and his face is hidden beneath a high collar. She changes her route and crosses to another wide street to see if he follows. As she pauses to inspect the contents of a fashionable boutique’s window display, sure enough, her shadowy follower is right behind her. She turns another corner, breaks into a run and slips into the shadows of an alleyway. She listens as the slow, measured pace of her pursuer pads past. She hurries down the alley as the team prepare to quickly pick her up in the Mercedes. As the car appears and safety is in sight, the stranger lands between her and the car in a billow of his coat, having apparently dropped from the rooftop three stories up. There’s little time to ruminate on the supernatural as he springs at Aisha, his fingers curled into ragged talons. Kore guns the Mercedes’ engine in the hope of circling the block and reaching the other end of the alley in time to rescue Aisha.

Aisha realises she has little chance of escape without the car, brandishes her umbrella and prepares to defend herself. She swats aside a flurry of alarmingly fast lunges and repays them with a dizzying strike against her assailants head that sends him reeling. They continue their martial contest as rainwater patters down in the alley gloom. Aisha’s rigorous training is tested to its limits as she hold the stranger’s attacks at bay, but although she’s landed several heavily blows on him, she’s running low on strength and his lightning fast swipes and slashes shows no signs of tiring. She edges back towards the where she first entered the alley and the Mercedes, then turns and runs as it squeals to a halt, door open, Gabe levelling his heavily pistol. She plunges inside as Gabe’s gunshots ring heavy in the quiet streets. The door slams shut as Kore stamps on the accelerator. The whole car shakes as the creature – its bestial fury is surely not human – crashes into the rear wheel arch. As the car accelerates, Jim and Gabe lean out to fire into the monster as it tries to claw its way inside. Finally its grip weakens and they leave it for dead in the gutter as they speed away into the night, distant sirens just beginning to wail.

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 Vàduva, 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.

The Moroccan Initiative

Asked to investigate a multi-national agri-chemical firm in Norfolk, the team stumbles across another conspiracy. Nox Therapeutic – essentially a front for the cIA – have been losing chemical warfare experts to this firm for some time. They’ve also tracked similarly skilled chemical and biological weapons developers defecting from the Ukraine. Sanctuary are hired to investigate.

On site, following the guidance of ex-Sanctuary employee Eddie Joyner, they test the soil around the labs and find it saturated with organophosphates, a form of chemical fertiliser but also the component in various nerve agents. Investigating the comings and goings of the staff lead them to the potentially corrupt CFO, Katherine Altone, whose husband has been kidnapped in Marrakesh, while visiting an AgriWealth site in the Sahara desert. Further exploration of the offices and lab reveals connections to the Romanian Mafia (to the point where they murder the Romanian HR director), links to the Klopstock & Bilreuth Bank and shipping crates to Morocco via HDG shipping. They also find evidence that the site has been producing a class of drugs called ‘myeloproliferatives’, drugs designed to counter-act the over-production of red blood cells. Joyner is assassinated by a red-headed motor-cyclist.

Taking up Katherine’s plea to rescue her husband, they travel to Morocco. In Casablanca, they find shipping containers full of serum and soil, which has geological origins in the Carpathian Mountains. There, they’re contacted by a frail, elderly man who identifies himself as Augustus Darville, who lives on the yacht Countess. He informs them that he represents a group opposed to the people they’re investigating, a pan-global conspiracy. He helps them by equipping them and offering them future help. While they’re at the marina, they spot a well-dressed blonde man observing the same yacht, but he rebuffs any attempt at contact and seems skilled enough to avoid having his photograph taken.

In Marrakesh, they arrive just in time to see Altone being abducted by Romanian Mafia. They chase the helicopter south across the desert, fending off an attack on the road. At the site, they find Altone being slowly drained in a laboratory. Rescuing him, they flee, but are briefly pursued by an indescribable creature of immense power and barely escape with their lives.

They do a deal with Altone, flipping him as an asset at the expense of his wife, who he replaces on the AgriWealth board.


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