Friday, 30 April 2021

The Persephone Extraction - Session 3, a VirtualGROGMEET 2021 Play Report

The third and final part of The Persephone Extraction, this is a Night's Black Agents game.  Night's Black Agents is a gumshoe variant from Kenneth Hite.  This game was run over three sessions at VirtualGROGMEET 2021 16-18/Apr.  Thanks to the amazing GM, DirktheDice and the fantastic players - JeremyNeil, Steve, Rich and ABS.

Here's looking forward to VirtualGROGMEET 2022 and the completion of the campaign!

...Here Be Spoilers...

Barcelona, Modern Day

The camera swoops down on modern-day Barcelona, it flies quickly over the tree-lined streets of La Ramblas, then banks and takes in the port, before heading inland, finally circling over the Nou Camp, the stadium of Barcelona FC.  Accelerating to ground level, we fly past many fans en route to a match, they wear the colours of Barca and Real Madrid, pinpointed with a group of noisy and belligerent twenty-somethings are Wheeler and Brand  The Stadium Team are dressed in Barcelona tops and the standard street casual wear of the Culés.  Wheeler puts his fist in the air and chants, "Barça, Barça, Baaarça!", he looks across at his companion, grinning widely - this has got to be their best assignment yet.

Nou Camp, home of Barcelona FC

Jian is sitting, heavily bandaged, outside a cafe on La Ramblas, he sees a helicopter with a cameraman fly overhead.  Looking back down at his phone, he reads again the communique from Agathe Winston, a friendly contact working for DEA Madrid.  Jian is the one man Research Team.

Keep eyes on Sebastian Vallejo.  Columbian Drug Smuggler.

SV has contacted Eurydice Investments, he is meeting Calyx at the company Nou Camp box for the Barca vs Madrid match.

SV has a yacht moored in the docks, name: Sly Bastardos.

Jian strokes his new laptop then flips it open and gets to work, "follow the money" is the mantra in his head, he starts typing, he grimaces, his neck is hot, itchy and hurts like hell.  He orders a brandy to go with his coffee, something to take the edge off this pain, he looks up at the Spanish sun, it's burning down on him, but there are no seats inside.

Cafe de l’Academia

He starts with the extraction team, Mymidden Security, there seem to essentially be a private army for Eurydice, heavily backed, the latest ordnance.  He decides to try and go straight to the heart of things, hacking into the Eurydice servers.  Bingo... he is in and is able to trawl through machines, directories, files. 

Whilst browsing, he finds a heavily securitised area, breaking through this he opens up a CCTV video archive; 

A number of senior management sit at a table in the boardroom, at one end of the table is Calyx.  

There is no sound, but a video is being shown, it predicts the collapse of the world economy.  

Calyx then gets agitated, angry, he draws a knife and slides it across his hand, blood drips on to the table.  

A shadow appears behind him, a gaunt, naked man, who starts to lap at the pool of blood on the table... the figure seems to reach into a woman's chest, she picks up a pen and starts to stab herself in the neck.

The naked figure seems to perform the same action with other board members, the more this goes on, the more the shadowy figure starts to solidify.

Eurydice boardroom, seconds before the attack

Jian is open-mouthed, sweating and turns to see a small lad in a Barcelona top, he's licking a lolly and pointing at the screen, "Más? Me gusta Espada!" he beams.  Jian worriedly closes the laptop's lid, tells the kid to piss off, looks around, and starts to move to another cafe.  A vampire, he ponders, or a ghost?  Or the ghost of a vampire?!

The Interview Team is just Cornell, Aggie has given him privileged but short term access to Monserrat, a previous board member of Eurydice, he's being held in the MAE, Catalan Police headquarters and Cornell is waiting outside his cell for papers to be processed.

Monserrat is broken

Cornell, sits down opposite the frail and unkempt Monserrat, it doesn't take long for Monserrat to start talking, he looks a broken man;

"Calyx framed me."

"My dreams, so, so bad.  The blood, always blood.  The smell.  The taste."

"Feels like something was inside me, I saw such bad things."

"Eurydice management is wrong, made me cut myself and drink my blood."

Monserrat pauses, he looks up at Cornell, "It's a vampire, inside of me, I sustain him.. blood.  Philomeli the greeks call us, my one was known as Nicomar.  Man, was he thirsty."  He chuckles, which then turns into a choke, a cry.

Cornell has been stunned by this, but gathers his thoughts, showing no trace of his shock, "Mr Monserrat, why did you do this?"

Monserrat smiles, "Mattheus, my boyfriend, he's everything to me, all was going so well, we thought it would go on forever."  He sobs and his shoulders heave as he tries to control his emotions.

Cornell waits until Monserrat composes himself, "Mr Monserrat, let's discuss the boardroom, what happened?"

Monserrat looks up again, his eyes red and raw, tears streaking his cheeks, "The Pale Agenda.  Taking down the world economy my friend, that is what Eurydice want, why or how, I've no idea.  All I know is they need a man... Vallejo."

"Anything else Monserrat?", says Cornell.

"Vallejo is supposed to go through some kind of ritual.  But Vallejo is a weak man, I've had dealings with him, he could be turned, he could be your way into Eurydice.", after this Monserrat puts his head down on the table, there is a knock on the interview window, it is time to leave.

Cornell draws a piece of paper across his finger, blood drips down on to the table in front of Monserrat.  Slowly, Monserrat rises from his chair, looks Cornell in the face, eyes blazing, "No my friend, he is not in me anymore.  Mattheus and I went on a boat, far out to sea.  The sun was bright... I... I don't remember... all hell broke loose, he's gone, all gone.  Mattheus.  Nicomar.  Both, gone.  Dust."

Paper Cut

The Docks Team, Heyerdahl and Joney are looking for Sly Bastardos, they are trying to gain access to the yacht from the dock but security is tight.  Instead, they see an upmarket hotel, with a number of dignitaries on the balcony.  They call up Jian, who hacks into the hotel, and there is a commotion as staff gently, but firmly move the various pumped up suits to another room.

Sly Bastardos

Heyerdahl and Joney walk into the hotel lobby and are escorted to the recently vacated room, they start to make cocktails and order hors d'oeuvres.  They then set themselves out on the balcony, observing the comings and goings of Vallejo's yacht.

Nothing much is going on, but they note what looks like bodies being loaded on to the yacht, they seem to be coming from a container ship, owned by Hercules.  They call up Jian, he informs them, after a little tapping, that Vallejo part-owns the Hercules Shipping company.  There is a knock at the door, a tray of lobster and caviar is presented, they take it into the room, waving away the waiter.

Back at the Nou Camp the Stadium Team of Wheeler and Brand, have entered the group disguised as fans, they have managed to find a storeroom.  Wheeler is donning his disguise of computer tech and then heads off to the Eurydice box.  Brand is checking his nametag of Bertrand Messier, journalist and photographer for the El Gazi Gazette.

Brand leaves the storeroom and heads to the press box, he shows his card and after a brief inspection enters the box.  As he loiters he looks across the stadium, seeing the Eurydice box on the opposite side.  Brand steps out of the press box and looks up, a long ladder leads up to a camera gantry, he starts to climb.

Nou Camp Press Room

Wheeler has been discussing with Eurydice security the urgency to get into the box and fix the lines, otherwise the great and the good, will have no access to the video screens during the game.  Eventually, he convinces them to let him in, he goes to work, switching on all audio and directing it to him and Brand.  He puts in a series of listening devices for good measure and then heads out to enjoy the game.

Brand is now up high above the crowd, his high powered zoom lens trained on the Eurydice box, he can see the pores in their skin.  He also can hear everything, thanks to Wheeler, he tunes to the front of the box, where Calyx and Vallejo are sitting.  They are talking about a ritual, to be performed after the game, welcoming Vallejo to the Eurydice family.  

Vallejo seems bored with this but makes a joke, "...after I join, I will not give you a straw but a pipeline, you will have all you can stomach!"  Calyx smiles.  Calyx leans in to whisper, "Not here my friend.  I have a treat though, Ramon Cortez, Barca's finest, is going to meet us at the end of the match."  Vallejo's eyes widen and he nods, smiling.

This banter continues, but nothing too consequential.  Brand has noticed an Aridna Russo is observing every move that Calyx makes, she sits a few rows behind, but never takes her eyes off of him.  Brand looks her up, she is a middle manager at Eurydice.

There is an interruption, a roar goes up as Barcelona score, Calyx and Vallejo hug each other and chant, arms aloft, with the rest of the crowd.  Brand barely hears Calyx say to Vallejo, "We go to the house after the match, everything will be organised then."

The match finishes 2-0 to Barcelona, the streets are packed with fans and stuck in traffic are Wheeler and Brand.  Wheeler is driving, having managed to hotwire a Heinkel Kabine, the famous German microcar, they are both over six feet tall.  Brand is almost licking the windscreen, "Wheeler, a question, why this car?"  Wheeler looks oblivious and happy but replies "Inconspicuous.  Nippy too, plus I have a bit of a thing for classic cars, always wanted to drive one of these and they are super easy to break into!  Aren't you having fun?

Heinkel Kabine

Barca fans pummel on the roof of the car as Wheeler and Brand crawl through traffic, up ahead they see the commercial, black Humvee of Calyx and his entourage.

Cornell contacts the rest of the group, "I've got a location, Devil's House, it's in the Sant Gervasi district, has ties to Eurydice.  Monserrat mentioned it."  Jian responds, "Yes, have been analysing Eurydice traffic a lot of comings and goings from that place."  Brand informs them, "We are tracking Calyx and Vallejo, in Sant Gervasi, looks to be on route to Devil's house, let's rendezvous there?"  

Heyerdahl and Joney look at each other, they are surrounded by glasses, plates and have started to get a nice tan, sitting on the balcony in the sun.  They sigh and start to gather their things.

"Change of plan.", shouts Wheeler, on the mic to the others.  "Brand and I are chasing a girl, Adriana, she's just got out of one of the cars and is heading down the street.  The traffic is at a standstill, you others find another route to Devil's House, get there before them." 

Brand is jogging down the street, trying to keep Adriana in his sights, Wheeler is on the opposite side of the street, doing the same.  They eventually see the woman slow down and head towards a large crowd of Catalan protestors, there is an animated conversation, before Adriana, heads back to her car and the protestors start moving at speed, chanting loudly.  Brand and Wheeler decide to blend in with the group, they are greeted by slaps on the back and have a banner thrust into their hands.  One of the protestors points to a house on the hill up ahead, "We go to take down the fascists, today will be a wonderful day for every Catalan!".  Wheeler nods, he looks back at Adriana, he swears he sees the shadow of a young child project out from her, as she pauses to look back at them

Free Catalonia!

The Devil's House

Heyerdahl, Joney, Cornell and Jian have entered through the garage of the Gaudi-inspired, gothic-tinged mansion of the Devil's House, as they step through the ground floor, they crunch through bones and dust.  Cornell whispers, "These bones look human, what the hell is this?"  The others are wary, shining torches around, guns in hand.

The Devil's House

Joney shivers as something cold passes through or over him, he looks up to see a wizened face, sharp fangs in an open mouth as it darts at him, he ducks.  Jian cries out as another spectral shape rises up from a pile of bones in front of him.  "Look out!", a cry goes up from Heyerdahl as a white marble statue of a devil crashes to the floor between them.  

Elsewhere Cornell is transfixed, a ghostly, vampiric face floats in front of him, it opens its mouth and then moves swiftly to the side as a sharp-bladed axe, powered by Heyerdhal swings down, brushing the end of Cornell's nose.

Jian is between two of these apparitions as they move towards him from either side, Joney is across from this, trying to frantically unjam his gun.  Jian waits and waits, the spectral vampires are about to strike when he launches into the air and performs a double flying kick, sending the ghost into the walls on either side, they dissipate on contact and all falls quiet.

Jian practising with Sensei Brian and Sensei Gordon

Back on the streets Brand and Wheeler are following the noisy crowd, they hear a screech and a horn, as the black Humvee ploughs into a crowd of supporters as it tries to force its way through the traffic.  Screams and shouts go up, the group they are with start to double their pace, the house on the hill is not too far away, another few minutes, but to their dismay, they see the Humvee break out of the traffic jam and drive past them.  Brand speaks into his mic, "Vallejo and Calyx are five minutes away, we'll be there shortly after them."

Meanwhile, at the Devil House, Cornell is finishing the final preparation of wiring explosives into the upper floors of the house, he unclips himself and drops down, he looks up at the atrium above, covered in Ivy and then down at the entrance hall below.  He dusts his hands and goes to find a vantage spot along with the others.  

The atrium

Not before time the team, minus Brand and Wheeler are secured on the upper floor of the Devil's House with a good view of the entrance hall, when Vallejo, Calyx and a number of security guards enter.  As they open the door, there are shouts from outside, "Independència!  Catalonia!" is heard.

Vallejo and Calyx have stopped in the main hall, a wooden trough has been brought through.  Vallejo is handed some pomegranate seeds and starts to chew on them, a woman is pushed forward, Calyx has a knife in his hand and Vallejo's expression has turned from one of boredom to fear.  Calyx raises the knife as a shadow passes over him.

Calyx's knife

At this moment, Jian can be seen, leaping from the balcony and kicking the knife out of the hand of Calyx, the knife turns end over end up into the air, from the opposite side Heyerdhal has leapt, arm outstretched to catch the knife, but he misses and the knife loops up and thuds into the forehead of a wooden statue of a devil.  Jian and Heyerdahl cartwheel past each other landing at opposite ends of the hall.

Cornell crawls closer to the edge of the top floor, he looks to his left, there is a large rat sitting looking at him, beyond that he sees a swarm of rats heading down the stairs, a dark shadow seems to drift across the wall as it follows them.

The immediate silence is broken by an explosion of gunfire, Joney is unleashing submachine gun rounds into the crowd below, the group scatter for cover and start to fire back.

Joney unleashes hell

Wheeler and Brand have heard this noise on the mic, they shout and scream, "¡Viva la Revolución!" and run, closely followed by a few hundred Catalan protestors towards the Devil's House.  The security outside tries to raise their weapons but are overwhelmed and the protestors burst inside.

Jian is slouched against a wall already heavily bandaged, he has a number of bullet holes in him and is desperately trying to crawl back behind the staircase, as more bullets ping and whizz past him.

Vallejo is looking down at his vintage Jordan's now splattered with blood from a wound to his arm.  At this moment, a black shape drops down and rears up before him, red burning eyes stare at Vallejo before the creature lurches forward to bury its teeth into Vallejo's wound, an insistent, alien sucking sound begins as Vallejo screams.

Heyerdahl, slams into the vampire, knocking it back into the centre of the hall.  Heyerdahl then begins to drag Vallejo away, shouting at him, "It's us or that thing!"  Vallejo nods and scrambles backwards.

Joney has seen this all before, he knows what needs to be done, he calls across to Cornell, "Cover me!" as he prepares to jump down on to the vampire, stake in hand. Cornell muses to himself,  "Vampire slaying I used to do a bit of that." then starts to unleash a hail of bullets on Calyx and the security team.  He looks across to Joney as he sees Joney slip climbing up onto the balcony to jump, there is a cry, a wave of arms and Joney plunges down to the floor below.  Joney lies on his back, gazing up at the hellish visage of the vampire, it looks down on him and grins.

It is not looking good for Joney

Bullets tear into the now physical vampire and again it stumbles back, hissing and snarling up at Cornell's smoking gun.

Brand and Wheeler charge into the hallway waving Catalan flags, a throng of protestors come to a halt, confused and scared by what they see and hear.  Brand gets off a head shot at one of the security guards.  Wheeler targets the other and sends him crashing against the wall, the third security guard fires at Joney as Joney gets groggily to his feet.  Joney cries out and is sent sprawling into the far corner of the room, landing on top of Jian.

Catalonia to the rescue

A few of the protestors attack the final security guard, he goes down as banners and fists connect.  Brand sees Calyx disappear into a side room, he ignores him and rushes to pick up Joney.  Wheeler grabs Jian and helps him to his feet.  They see a shadow rise up from across the hallway, the vampire steps forward and they step back, looking frantically for an exit.  

Heyerdahl appears and steps in front of the vampire, Heyerdhal grins and his eyes narrow, he holds up his axe, it glints in the light.  

The vampire swings out an arm and Heyerdhal is sent flying through the air, crashing into the group of protestors, who are now scrambling away from the monster in fear.

Heyerdahl lies on his back, bloody and bruised, he looks up to see Cornell, he's holding something in his fist, Heyerdhal gives him the thumbs up and Cornell nods and presses the detonator.

There is a deafening roar as the ceiling and glass over the hallway explodes, the midday sun shines down, illuminating the vampire and immediately the creature starts to smoke and flames burst upon its skin.  The vampire cries out, looking up directly into the hot orange ball above it, imploring it with its hands as it sinks to its knees.  Its face starts to melt and collapse in on itself, within seconds it is a writhing mass on the floor and then a pool, then nothing.

It burns!  It burns!

Cornell rushes down the stairs grabbing Heyerdahl, the protestors have disappeared, there is the sound of sirens.  Vallejo and the team, supporting each other, follow Calyx's path, they see an open door, built into the bookcase, stairs lead down... ...the team head through the door and disappear into the dark.

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