Sometimes this blog writes itself.
Have a look at this news item, about a 150 year old wine cache found in the secret recesses of a Czech castle. The liquid gold, when tested under the most stringent conditions, proved to be as magnificent and desirable as any aficionado could wish for. Recovered by the state in 1985, only now have the Czech authorities bothered to do anything with it. Just as well, really, since in the 80s they could never have tested it so carefully as they can today, with devices that can pour off a snifter without damaging the integrity of the cork, and therefore the contents. The last three bottles of the 1899 Chateau d'Yquem are part of this 133 bottle collection. Those bottles alone are probably worth over $10,000 each; the auction price for the entire collection is incalculable, particularly since they've been tested and proved drinkable. This is the stuff that dreams are made of.
So there's all that. Now what can we do with this from a Night's Black Agents point of view?
There are vampire connections of long standing with Czechoslovakia. F.W. Murnau used Orava Castle, now a museum, as a setting for Nosferatu. Archaeologists sometimes find vampire burials and, on one occasion, a vampires' graveyard just outside Prague. And of course once upon a time Czechoslovakia was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, which gave the world some of the most evocative vampire legends to date; the desecration of corpses was so widespread that the Empress Maria Theresa was forced to pass a law forbidding exhumation and destruction of the buried dead.
Now here we have a wine trove found under a castle, complete with jeweled catafalque containing the alleged remains of a saint. So let's turn this into a Tale of Terror, Vampire Style, and see what can be done with it.
Option One: Time Bomb. The collection was laid down by Satanic disciples who made a deal with a vampire, possibly Orlok the Nosferatu, possibly Dracula himself if there's to be a Satanic Cult of Dracula connection. The best bottles in the collection are tainted with vampire blood, and the intent was to send these bottles to important and influential persons, turning them into Renfields. For whatever reason this plan did not mature; if this is Dracula, perhaps his disastrous adventures in England preempted the wine plot. So the cache stayed hidden, lost and forgotten, until its rediscovery in 1985. Now the plan's been reactivated, which is why the auction has been scheduled. Soon the wine will scatter across Europe, vanishing into the collections of the rich and famous. That's why it was so important to establish that the wine is drinkable; without that extra touch, the bombs might have stayed in bottle forever. Character Link: A person of interest, possibly a known Renfield or Node, is paying particular attention to this auction. The person of interest is very keen to ensure the auction goes ahead without a hitch, going so far as to rig the bidding to ensure that certain people win certain auctions. Why should that be?
Option Two: Mine, All Mine. The wine cache was laid down by a wealthy and well-connected family, which had a vampire in its bloodline. This vampire used the family as a beard, relying on its wealth and influence to keep the vampire hidden. Possibly this creature is a former Bride of Dracula, or something of similar importance. When things got too difficult the bloodsucker hid in the saint's box, or perhaps the family got tired of supporting a freeloader and made sure it couldn't do any further harm. However when the cache was discovered in 1985 the vampire got out, and soon began cementing its local influence in Czechoslovakia, establishing a small network of human agents. It knows about the Conspiracy but is not a part of it, yet; it sits enviously on the sidelines, waiting for an opportunity. The time is now, and the wine sale is part of a scheme to raise some serious cash for its small network, with the ultimate goal of using that cash to fund a terrorist attack whose purpose is to prove to the Conspiracy how useful the vampire is, and how great it would be if the Conspiracy took it in. If the Vampire is a Bride, there's not a little sexual jealousy mixed in; "it's been how many centuries, and you still haven't called?" Character Link: Elements within the Czech BIS (domestic security) bring in the characters, anonymously, to check out some of the bidders. The BIS use the excuse that the bidders are Russian mafia, but the main worry is that criminal elements may be using the auction for their own purposes. The BIS can't be seen to intervene directly, but freelancers are another thing entirely.
Option Three: The Sting. Edom, or a similar organization, is using this auction as a lure to catch a particular target. The target's fondness for excellent vintages is well-known, and the intent is to kidnap the target while she's in the Czech Republic, extract her to an interrogation site - Black Light, for instance - and squeeze her dry. Meanwhile her temporary replacement is seen to be at the auction, placing bids and behaving as if nothing is wrong. Later, of course, the replacement's plane will 'mysteriously crash' on its way home. Or, if this is a Mirror game in which people's loyalties flip, perhaps the target will be turned and brought back into play after the auction. Character Link: Perhaps the freelancers were brought in to manage the kidnap, and keep up pretenses for a vital few days while the interrogators do their work. Or perhaps the freelancers were the target's security detail, and only discover after the fact that their employer was switched out for a double. This could be an excellent reason why the characters got burned in the first place.
That's it for now! Enjoy.