Oh, now I remember. I've been redlining Demon all week.
Anyway, during our last session, the characters made their drop, blew up the laptop when it all went south (but they have their own copies of the data), and then tried to track the money that Rudek had paid them with (since they can't find Rudek; sources say he's in Beirut). Hanover's character got as far as the Isle of Man, but after that he couldn't trace it further. So the characters decided to head to Smith's Zurich hunting cabin. OK.
The obvious issue here is that they're running, but actually that's fine. They're in deep enough that they should be running, and the smartest thing for them to do is cut and run. That also means it's time for the vampire conspiracy to make things a little more personal for them. And for that, we kinda need to go loud.
According to this travel site, what the characters are going to do is catch a train to Budapest, then into Austria, then through Austria to Zurich.
Now, I'd set the paymaster in Zagreb, and I don't see that needing to be changed. The issue here is that the PCs have copied the data from the laptop and then tried to trace the money. The conspiracy knows about them, and it's not unreasonable to think that they'll be tracked to the train.
So with that in mind, let's fill in the conspyramid a little more. I don't have anything at the city level yet. They have to cross through Croatia on the way to Hungary, and we know that the conspiracy has fingers here. So we'll say that in Osijek, the conspiracy has Dr. Radovan Macan, a puppeteer and faculty instructor at the University of Osijek Medical School. The train stops here, and he enters the train with two vampires (former security guards). The vampires attempt to pull the characters off the train into the station and kill them, before the train gets going.
So, systems, goddamit: Obviously Sense Trouble to know they're being followed, or maybe even Surveillance to see the vampires first. At that point, Streetwise tells them that the two dudes are dangerous, and a Streetwise or Tradecraft spend will reveal the good doctor (who never leaves a public place; his mission to watch, confirm the kills, and report back whether or not the mission is successful).
The vampires would rather attack the characters one at a time, but if they never leave the train, then the vampires don't board (they won't be able to pass customs or border checks). If that's the case, then the characters can make it all the way to Hungary, where I'll put another node. The customers officers at Budapest Kelenfold work for the conspiracy (Tesla uses this station to smuggle bodies and equipment). Any luggage the characters are bringing is impounded. Bureaucracy shows that the paperwork has been doctored, and Cop Talk lets the characters talk to security and learn that the customs ops keep to themselves and are crooked as hell. Once the luggage is impounded (or the characters step off the train) they have 20 minutes before a Hungarian street gang armed with knives and small sidearms arrives and tries to kill them, hopefully steering them down a disused wing of the train station (under construction). The gang will pursue them if they flee (giving them plenty of chances to steal a car, let Rousseau drive, etc.
So what can they learn?
- Vampires can't really communicate. If the characters manage to subdue one (hah) it just fights until they destroy it. Forensic Pathology reveals it's been dead for several days. Diagnosis reveals some weird pathogens in its bloodstream, as well as lymph and CSF and blood not belonging to the body in its stomach, if the PCs do a full autopsy for whatever reason. The vampires are each carrying small knives but no guns. If they run the vampires' prints, they find that they are security guards employed at the University of Osijek (Mihael Gabric and Cedo Zagar). No record of death. They both work at the medical school.
- Customs officials are human and respond to bribery, threats and so on. Flattery, Flirting, Intimidation, Negotiation and so on reveal that they were paid to delay the characters. One character (Lazlo Kelemen) runs if he sees the characters getting info from other agents; he's the one that called the gang (Interrogation is the best way to get that information).
- The gang members are local drug/stolen goods dealers. They'll cave with a big enough bribe or a serious show of force (best way is probably to kill or wound them and leave one still able to talk; at that point Interrogation, Intimidation, etc. work). They know that Kelemen has them on call for wetwork at the station, but they also take their marching orders from a man named "Dr. Sas." Research or Bureaucracy finds Dr. Janos Sas as a doctor at Budapest Prison.
Now, this all bypasses Rudek and Klubocar, but I'm kinda OK with that. I think a good end for this op will be them actually seeing a puppeteer, be it Sas, Macan or someone else I have to make up, and being told that they need to hand back the laptop (and they can totally get a roll to realize that even if they do, they're toast). So I think I'll leave it at that; that fills in my pyramid a little more, but I think I still have enough to work with.