Last time on Night’s Black Agents: Jacob Novazembla, Nikolai Kaidanovsky, Sami Härkönen, Brendan, Shiina “Misha” Mikado and Zlatan Kljujic were finally reunited at the heavily fortified ranch of King Valentin the “Devil’s Husband” after extracting his love, the Romani vampire Vienna “Vin” Cesarescu from the deadly R-Team, Inish Medical‘s special operations team. Leaving Faris Barrar and his men stranded in Bucharest, Romania, they fled across the Bulgarian border and the Danube river near Ruse and Shtraklevo.
Day 05 Monday: Very Early Morning
It was late after midnight after everyone had some hours of catching up, rest and planning.
Since Vin needed the Inish serum to function in daytime without adverse effects from the sun and going on a bloodlust, Nikolai – a former Russian GRU operative who was also a medical doctor – went immediately to work at the ranch’s lab trying to analyse the vial she entrusted them with. She kept the other one, rationing it for herself.
Misha, who had arrived earlier with Brendan, told them that Julia, the cousin of Georgeta Andrea Grigore, their anti-human trafficking activist contact in Bucharest, was being held there – reminding them that King Valentin was still a human trafficking scum. They cannot rely on Valentin’s help and would need to leave as soon as possible. But to where? Options include Stockholm (their allies from the Eurovision mission) and Novosibirsk (Nikolai’s GRU allies), and how would they get Julia out as well.
Sami and Zlatan planned to take the Niva to scout the surrounding towns the next morning while the others would protect Nikolai and reconnoitre the ranch, looking for assets and exploits.
Zlatan used a burner cellular phone to call his former colleague Rosa Martinez in Munich. She was an American field office manager for Case Protection Services, a private military contractor Zlatan used to work for in Afghanistan during Operation Anaconda. She agreed to do a favour for him: to send a surveillance team over the border into Austria. If Farris Barrar and his team reached their safehouse in Vienna, Zlatan wanted to know. Zlatan told her, “Do not engage them whatever they do.”
“What are you working on, Zlatan?”
“It’s big. You’ll know it soon. Thanks.” The Bosnian wheel artist sent her contact instructions and hung up. Fatigue took its toll and he fell asleep.
Day 05 Monday: Mid-Morning
Having refreshed and rested sufficiently, Sami and Zlatan set out with the Niva to gather intelligence on the surrounding area. Too far away for their tacnet to work, they remained in contact with burner cellular phones. They set out for the Ruse Airport nearby in Shtraklevo. It was inactive, abandoned in 1999. But there was activity at a hangar. Valentin’s men were moving an Antonov An-2 utility biplane out onto the tarmac. Was Valentin planning to leave soon?
The Niva turned north and headed for the city of Ruse.
Misha discovered that Vin had been awake all night and was now active in the daytime, a new development in her vampiric abilities. It was unknown if the effect was related to her using the serum sparingly.
Meanwhile, King Valentin’s other woman, Ruth, was making a scene, loudly complaining about Vin, obviously disturbed and jealous of her return. She screamed, “That woman killed my chihuahua!” Ruth led Brendan, Misha and Nikolai to a pool hall in the barracks. There was a blood-splattered box in the corner that held a chihuahua’s exsanguinated carcass. Ruth became audibly upset once again.
Vin was rearranging pool balls on the table. Seeing the agents arrive, she held up a ball with a glazed look in her eyes. “This pool ball. Its colour. Rose? Rose. I know that name. Rose. Gary. I know these names. But I can’t remember their faces. I’m forgetting things.” She looked at Nikolai and asked, “Is this normal, Doctor?”
“We should take a look. Come to the lab with me.”
Ruth was enraged. “Why are you caring for this savage? Why aren’t you putting her down?” But before she could attract the attention of other people, Nikolai jabbed a needle into her arm. When she slumped unconscious, they carried her to the lab.
In Ruse, Sami and Zlatan looked at other transport options. There was the Yug and Iztok bus stations. They could also travel by rail from the Ruse central train station. And because Ruse straddled the Danube, there were river transports and ferries that they could charter.
They were briefing the rest of the team driving back when suddenly a pair of Eurocopter EC-725 Super Cougar helicopters in Bulgarian army livery flew overhead toward the direction of the ranch. They appeared to be packed with troops and bore rocket launchers, 20mm gun pods and side-mounted 7.62mm machine guns.
Sami informed the ranch of the incoming threat.
Day 05 Monday: Noon
They sounded the alarm. King Valentin was roused running out of his villa with Vienna in tow. He wore a pink mink coat and nothing else, causing others – not just the agents – to curse and avert their eyes. Valentin was aghast because he had never been harassed by the Bulgarians before and had not expected an attack from the military. He ordered an evacuation of the ranch. Vin went with the agents.
Nikolai considered using the chemicals available to him to make chlorine gas for defensive purposes, but realised that delivery in wide open spaces might not be effective.
Misha set off on her own, found Julia Grigore. The British agent dragged Julia off to rendezvous with Vin, Brendan, Jacob and Nikolai who had commandeered a truck. The group headed at full speed across the ranch central yard and into its wide open fields – in the direction of the airport.
Behind them, the villa walls exploded outwards and King Valentin’s heavily armoured Russian BTR flew out of the cloud of debris and splinters. At the same time, the Super Cougars roared into view out of nowhere. The 50 calibre M2 gun atop the BTR fired at the helicopters, but the barrage missed. Valentin noticed the agents’ trucks on the fields headed for the airport and ordered his driver to pursue as the helicopter deployed troops on the ground to secure the ranch.
Brendan drove the Niva into a barn, getting the truck stuck in mud. Its tires threw mud into the air as Valentin’s BTR was catching up fast.
Meanwhile, Vin began to growl, turning feral and not in control of herself. Everyone tensed for a second, then she tore down Jacob’s pants once again, leaned down quickly and bit. Julia’s eyes became as wide as dinner plates. Misha muttered, “Don’t ask.”
The suddenly (with a successful Driving roll) the truck was free. It smashed into the far wall and rolled out onto the grass as the barn disintegrated behind them. (The stunt regained 1 point of Driving to Brendan.) As they sped into the fields, Jacob yelled, “Please! Vin! Be gentle!” There was nothing he could do but let Vin have his blood. Even Misha dared not to interrupt the vampire.
The BTR came up behind them. The helicopters split up, each following the agents’ truck and Valentin’s BTR.
Elsewhere, the Niva was bouncing violently as it headed toward the airport using back roads and tractor paths. The team were in close enough proximity for their tacnet to work again. Sami and Zlatan’s plan was to approach the airport from the fields, rendezvous with the others and steal the An-2 for an aerial escape from Shtraklevo.
Meanwhile Brendan saw a stream in their path. The stream flowed in a 2-metre-deep gorge and was about 5 meters across. A bridge of rope and planks was their only way across, but it looked too fragile for a truck to cross it. (A successful Driving roll ensued.) But Brendan floored the pedal, gaining momentum enough to fly over the stream by way of the bridge. After a moment of eternity, the truck safely arrived on the other side and continued its barrelling toward the airport, now only two kilometres away – and within sight thanks to a relatively flat terrain.
The BTR attempted the same stunt but nosedived into the stream, followed by a shriek of despair from Valentin. A Super Cougar flew overhead, ignoring the BTR and bore down on the speeding truck. 20mm cannons began to throw up dirt near the truck. Vin stopped sucking Jacob’s blood. They all looked closely and saw that there was a large shaggy dog in the co-pilot seat of the Super Cougar… looking back.
Several rounds stuck the far wall of the truck. A burst of hot shrapnel ricocheted within the truck. The truck began to slow, its transmission growling in pain. Julia and Misha were bleeding.
Brendan told Nikolai to use the Strela-2 rocket launcher he had stowed under the seat that he pilfered from Valentin last night. (Preparedness point expenditure showed us Brendan’s flashback, digging through Valentin’s wardrobe. Behind a huge number of garish mink coats of various obscene hues, he found a secret door and Valentin’s stash of weapons. Brendan grinned and picked up the Strela-2.) Nikolai leaned out the window of the truck cab, aimed, yelled, “Complements of Uncle Joe!” then fired a rocket.
The rocket smashed through the windshield, buried itself at the back wall of the cockpit. Still ignited, the rocket pushed the helicopter in an attitude it should not be at during flight. The pilot was unable to compensate for the excess thrust and the helicopter slammed into the ground. But before the impact and disintegration, a ball of fur leapt out of the smashed windscreen.
It was the shaggy dog, a South Russian ovcharka, bounding for the truck with unnatural energy and speed from a kilometre away.
They disembarked from their crippled vehicle only a kilometre away from Ruse Airport. Nikolai and Jacob helped Misha and Julia while Vin’s skin was beginning to sizzle in the noon sun. They ran, but the dog ran faster. It was only a matter of time.
Meanwhile, Sami and Zlatan thundered toward the stream and gorge. Zlatan (succeeded with his Driving roll and) skilfully crossed the rickety bridge much to the fury of Valentin and his men below. As soon as they crossed over, the bridge crumbled and fell on the mobsters. They saw the helicopter crash and the thing that began bounding toward their teammates. Zlatan stopped the car. Sami got out with a Barrett M82 sniper rifle and the RPO-A Shmel thermobaric rocket launcher, both weapons had been stowed in the car since the mission began. Then Zlatan resumed driving toward the others.
Left behind at a vantage point, he knelt, deployed the Barrett and aimed at the ovcharka.
As the others sprinted the best they could, Brendan halted. He turned back, drew his CZ 75 automatic pistol and stood his ground. The ovcharka charged. Brendan aimed, fired and hit the dog but it kept running. The cleaner prepared for the worst. Then a 50 calibre bullet took a large chunk out of the dog’s body (thanks to Sami’s Shooting of 7 from afar). It kept running, but it appeared to be severely wounded by the sniper round. Brendan fired some more at the approaching dog.
The ovcharka fell motionless in a pool of its own blood.
Zlatan finally arrived to fetch Brendan.
As the Niva headed for the others, Sami started to jog for the airport. That was when the BTR managed to climb out of the gorge, like a mud-streaked monster. Then the second Super Cougar appeared behind it. It strafed the BTR, shredding it to pieces. Sami noticed another ovcharka in the co-pilot seat of the low-flying helicopter. It swung around for a pass at Sami. Sami discarded the Barrett and unslung the Shmel. He aimed as the helicopter came for a strafing run. Then he fired the last thermobaric warhead, the second one he had fired in so many days.
The incendiary rocket struck the nose of the Super Cougar and exploded in a firestorm of debris.
As with the previous helicopter, a ball of fur and muscle was propelled out from the burning cockpit. But the ovcharka was completely on fire. It fell crouched on four legs, a demon hound from hell. Snarling, it started to pounce on Sami. But its muscles was too charbroiled for mobility. It staggered and crumbled into a mass of flesh and burning fur. Sami dropped the Shmel, walked up to the writhing ball of flame, and emptied his MP-443 Grach’s clip into the creature’s head. The writhing stopped.
Then the former Rajavartiolaitos trooper resumed his jog toward the airport.
Day 05 Monday: Afternoon
Flight of the Annushka
Zlatan, Vin, Nikolai, Misha, Jacob, Brendan and Julia sped for the airport with the Niva. Misha was bleeding badly. The scent of the blood affected Zlatan, but (on a Stability Check roll of 6 with a 6 Difficulty) he shook the bloodlust out of his head.
A screech of brakes and Nikolai was out running. He slid under the waiting An-2 and surprised a technician on the other side with an uppercut to the jaw. A moment later, he was dragging another unconscious man out of the An-2. Brendan and Jacob found a first aid kit to treat Misha with.
Zlatan drove back across the runway and fields to pick up Sami. Sami got in. There was a pause before Zlatan asked, “Was it good for you as well?” They both sighed with satisfaction as Zlatan drove them back to the biplane.
With the technician and pilot tied up in the hangar and King Valentin absent, the party took to the skies in the biplane. Brendan (succeeded in a First Aid roll and) stabilised Misha’s bleeding. But where would they go? Which faction controlled the Bulgarian army? Were they allied with the Romanians or the Russians or Inish? Or were they a hitherto unknown faction? Where could they go with the vampire conspiracy appearing to grow larger at every turn?
To be continued.
Note: Only imaginary dogs (and vampire ones at that) were harmed in the making of this Night’s Black Agents play report.