Monday, February 10, 2014

Night's Black Agents: That is a man's HEAD

Saturday was Night's Black Agents. So, here we go!

The agents left Bonn for Frankfurt, reconnoitered, made some calls, and Rousseau called up Father Calderon to see if he could hook them up with lab space. He met them in Rome and gave them information on a facility that rented out lab space, David tapped a cover ID who was a doctor of hematology, and Lockwood hacked into the facility's system and gave David a rented lab. Boom.

Figuring they'd stay in Rome a while, Hanover got a job at one of the museums spotting forgeries, just to keep himself busy. Rousseau busied herself with setting up surveillance on the lab and their safe house, and the others (Smith, Lockwood, and Davd) went into the lab and started working on the head that they'd severed from a vampire in Bonn.

David discovered that the head was showing signs of decay, about consistent with the way they'd been preserving it. He found a weird biological marker in the blood, not consistent with the blood nutrients they'd seen before - might be a way to identify such creatures going forward. He found bits of flesh and blood between its teeth, but also a strange substance on the back of its throat. This substance was a weird mixture of human lymph, blood, and CSF, but it didn't belong to this head. It did, however, have the same biological marker. They found traces of it in the wallet the Lockwood had liberated from the corpse's jacket pocket - had he been doused with it? If so, how and why?

The head displayed no physical alteration. No fangs or exaggerated jaw muscles or tentacles in the mouth. This led the agents to suspect that there might be multiple "strains" of vampire, which was consistent with their other findings (some vampires talk and eat, some don't, etc.). Normal sunlight didn't affect the head, but intense UV light caused cellular damage. The exact effect of bright sunlight, though, was impossible to know without a living specimen.

The character theorized that this all might be caused by an external force, something clinging to the host's body. After all, they'd never seen a vampire unclothed or without a jacket, some hiding behind the back would make some sense. David noted that nothing they'd found disproved that, but nothing proved it, either. They looked over the notes they had from the laptop, and again noted the "Cocktail." Rousseau wondered if the mix of body fluids could be this Cocktail.

The characters didn't have any nutrient samples, but they knew how to get some - samples get shipped from the lab in Paris to Dr. Macan in Osijek. With some creative hacking, they found the route of these samples, and drove Pecs, where the samples flew into. They set up under an overpass. Rousseau and Lockwood leaned on their van as if broken down, and when the van approached, David, from a goodly distance, put a bullet in the approaching van's engine block.

The driver immediately tried to make a call, but the characters had brought a cell phone jammer. The guy got out, and asked if he could use their phone. From his reaction to Flirting, they deduced he wasn't a vampire, and so tased him, bagged him, and left him in his van, after they stripped the plates and VIN (and, of course, the nutrients). And then they headed back, dropping the van in Ljubljana to create confusion.

Back in Rome, David worked with the nutrients, and figured given some time, he could reverse engineer a poison for these creatures based on whatever the nutrients were trying to bolster. The next day, though, Father Calderon came to visit Hanover. He told Hanover that a bookseller had recently started trying to find a buyer for the handwritten diary of a minor 17th century Hungarian baron that, apparently, mentioned vampires. The bookseller, Imre Szabo, had dropped off the radar recently. Calderon figured this might be of interest to the characters.

Hanover brought this to the group. They dug into the baron's history a bit. Janos Ferenci was a minor Hungarian noble, died in 1620, most notable because he'd spoken in defense of Elizabeth Bathory at her trial (mostly "she's noble, so fuck off"). The bookseller was legit; no connection with organized crime or unsavory sorts, but he'd suddenly dropped the price on the book recently, and then vanished. He had no missing person report on him, though, and no crime scene. He lived and worked in Szeged, Hungary.

The characters figured that he, and his book, might be useful, and they needed to get to him before the vampires killed or turned him. Next time, they're heading Szeged to do an extraction.