Sunday, January 10, 2016

Night's Black Agents: A Vacation in Switzerland

Well, not really. Last time, you might remember, the agents stalked and killed Dr. Radovan Macan, who turned out to be one of those things with the tentacles in his mouth. The agents fell back, wounded but victorious, and laid low in London for a while, healing up. Then they got to work.

They figured that the were dealing with two different kinds of vampires: the slower, dumber, but much stronger versions (which they called "brutes"), and the physically weaker (though still badass) ones with tentacles (dubbed "masters"). They knew of one way to spot a master: A slight distortion in their speech. Since they had access to recordings of Simon Thibault, the CEO of Tasse Medical and Renate Bauer, the now-deceased BSI agent, they checked...and sure enough, both of them exhibited this distortion. They were even able to roughly pinpoint when Simon might have been "turned" based on when that distortion crept in.

They also did a little experimentation. Hanover had told them that wild roses were apparently involved - a weakness or repellent? So the agents got some and extracted the unique chemicals and tried it against a sample from Macan. The result was a slight allergic reaction; nothing major. They also tried an anti-coagulent, which didn't do anything dramatic. Then Parker had the idea to go the other way, and try to turn the fluid to sludge - maybe that would slow them down? The chemical treatment seemed to have more of an effect, but now they'd exhausted their supply of sample material. They made up some dart guns containing a blood thickener, though.

They looked at their options again. They knew that blood bags had arrived at Macan's lab from Paris (Tasse), Budapest (the prison, making them suspect Dr. Janos Sas, the prison doctor), and Geneva (the Reineger Clinic). They decided to investigate this clinic some more (no one was keen to go to prison). They learned that one of the head docs there, a nephrologist named Anna Sedillo, co-published a few things with Dr. Macan. They decided that was enough to warrant investigation.

They got a house in the suburbs of Geneva, not far from the Clinic (and, as it happened, a funeral home/crematorium, which hasn't become relevant yet). Esse and Parker attended one of Sedillo's lectures, but were unable to determine if her speech carried the same distortion - she's a native speak of Spanish, and her dialect already carries something similar to the lateral lisp that the agents were looking for, plus she was speaking accented French (this is what happens when your GM is an SLP).

While they were at the lecture, Gambone and Hanover broke into her house and looked around. It all looked normal - she lived alone, there was food in the fridge and a cat on the chair. She had her computer with her, but she'd left an external hard drive, which Hanover copied.

After the lecture, Parker, dusting off her Helene Renault cover, introduced herself as a journalist and asked for an interview. Sedillo cheerfully agreed, and they set a dinner date for the next night.

The agents regrouped and looked at her hard drive. The results were...enlightening. Sedillo and Macan did correspond, but their business emails were professional and cool. And then there were a few emails from Macan about "needing the room." One of them, she responded and said that it was impossible, there was too much booked at the clinic, but Macan responded and said, "that's not my problem. You know the arrangement."

The agents did a little digging and figured out which "room" they meant - one of the surgical rooms was in the middle of the building, yet accessible via one long hallway from a door, so it was easy to get to without being noticed. There was also a big walk-in freezer adjacent, which rang a few bells.

Digging a little more, they discovered that someone Hanover knew - the war criminal named Anton Dedopovic - had been a patient here for his kidney disease. In fact, he had been a patient here during one of the very early uses of the "the room."

Since there was nothing scheduled for "the room" tonight, the agents broke into the clinic. Parker used her Filch MOS to nab a keycard off an employee, they snuck past the guards (Hanover in the van providing intel), and broke into the room. It looked, for the most part, like a standard OR - no cameras, though (but Parker planted one). They searched the freezer, too, and came up with an unlabeled box with a single vial of a milky-looking liquid. They took it and replaced it with a vial of their blood weapon and headed out.

A little analysis showed that this stuff was a mixture of blood, lymph, and CSF - the so-called "Cocktail." But it wasn't Macan's, so who's was it?

Figuring they had enough information to get Sedillo to talk, Parker and Esse went to dinner. Using their Interpersonal Skills, they got her talking about the clinic and her work with Macan. She said she'd met him at a conference in Budapest some years back; the International Free Energy Association conference. They'd both been presenting (you might recall that the IFEA was in Bonn, Germany, when the original team of agents came to town and wound up beheading a brute). She'd worked with him a few times, but of late, she said, he'd grown stuck in his ways and not as receptive to collaboration.

They brought up Anton Dedopovic, and her eyes widened a bit. She asked if he was still alive; they feigned ignorance (but he's very dead; Hanover confirmed that). She said he'd been there for treatment for a very rare kidney disorder; it was killing him, and she'd be surprised if he'd lived this long. But she did recall that one morning, he'd started acting demented. There had been wild roses on his table, which he demanded be replaced every morning. She wasn't sure what the catalyst for that had been...

Dinner concluded, the agents decided that Sedillo wasn't a master or even directly in the know. Obviously Macan had been holding something over her, but Macan's death hadn't been reported, so she didn't know he was dead. The agents also didn't know what she was in fear of, or how the "room" was involved.

They decided to stay in Geneva for the time being and figure out what the Clinic's connection is to all this.