A Walk in the Shadows

Showdown with the Winter Soldier
Operation: Falcon

Making their way to the Burj Khalifa, the team made their way to At The Top, the highest level observation deck on the 148th floor.

At The Top:
At_The_Top.jpg


Shortly thereafter, their old UNAD handler, Jason Shaw, also arrived. The clandestine meet went down, with Jason explaining that the trio were indeed burned, and were actively being targeted by MI6 assets for termination. He went on to explain that there was a mole within UNAD, and that while he would do everything he could to help his old protégés, without knowing who was working against them he would be limited in what assistance he could offer. Direct contact was impossible, but he could use his contacts in the Middle East to provide some succor. He suggested that the team leave immediately, but to avoid the airports and ports, instead heading via car further south – through Oman and to Yemen.

It was a dangerous trip, especially for non-Arabs, but was the least likely avenue that MI6 would monitor for that same reason. The team had rearmed earlier from Lee’s hidden supply cache. That coupled with the additional funds they had “acquired” from the Russian Bratva, meant they were as well-supplied as could be under the circumstances, so they agreed to Shaw’s plan and set off for the country of Oman.

Passing through the checkpoint along Route 21 in Al Ain, the trio made their way south, stopping a passing native and trading cars, much to the delight of the poor farmer who now found himself in possession of a new BMW 7 Series sedan.

They continued onward, down Route 29 and 31, arriving in Salalah a few days later. They took some time to ensure that they were not being followed, before setting off for Yemen along Route 47, passing through the checkpoint in Al Mazyunah and heading down the coast in their old Range Rover until arriving a few days later in the port city of Aden. There, they made contact with Shaw’s contact, who was apparently working for the Houthi rebels.

The team laid low for a few weeks, spending their time evaluating the mysterious emails that had been sent to their secure accounts. It was a file called the “Dracula Dossier,” and purported to be an unredacted version of the Bram Stoker novel. A novel, apparently, that was not a novel, but supposedly an after action report of British agent Bram Stoker who oversaw recruitment of the fictional (or not?) character of Count Dracula as an asset for the British Naval Intelligence department.

The email was heavily encrypted, but also incomplete. There were indications of a series of annotations by different individuals but it was impossible to verify the completeness and authenticity of the document without seeing the original. A tracelog of the emails led to a series of offline servers in London, England, and analysis of the physical location also proved fruitless, as the refurbished warehouse had apparently burned to the ground the night that the emails were sent.

It was near the end of September when their Yemen contact, Mokhtar, announced that he had received a message from Jason Shaw. There was an UAE vessel currently headed south down the Bab al Mandeb strait that was going to be targeted for attack by the rebels. In addition, the ship was carrying a special passenger – one Nikolai Limrovich, aka Bucky Barnes aka The Winter Soldier. As part of the exchange, Shaw had requested that the team be given the privilege of being the first to board the enemy vessel. They had agreed to the terms – albeit reluctantly. The ship, HSV-2 Swift, would be in the area in a few days, so the team set out to prepare for another encounter with the remarkably resilient “Bucky.”

Houthi rebels attack the HSV-2 Swift:

Two thumps thudded through the ship’s hull as the Chinese C-802 anti-ship missiles launched into the cool night air. Trailing steam and smoke traced their path over the dark waters and explosions lit up the night as they struck home on HSV-2 Swift. The Swift was afire and obviously damaged, but did not appear to be in immediate danger of sinking, as the team alit into a waiting Zodiac and headed towards the burning ship.

<redacted>
ZodiacSwift.jpg


After making their way onboard, the team quickly moved through the main deck, finding evidence in the officer’s quarters that their target, Bucky (Nikolai), was indeed on board – a laptop emblazoned with a symbol for Marvel’s Winter Soldier was probably Nikolai’s.

Laptop logo:
Jacket_back.jpg


A chance encounter with a UAE navy sailor was quickly defused thanks to Quinn’s quick thinking, and the search continued.

The med bay contained a number of what appeared to be a Russian mercenary, so the team engaged with deadly precision. The Russian was no match for the team, and they left his body booby-trapped with one of Quinn’s frag grenades.

Finding a comm station, DuBois and Lee were able to use the intraship monitoring system to locate another group of Russian mercenaries on board. The team moved quickly to isolate the squad and took them out with one of Quinn’s ever-present M67 grenades.

Moving onwards towards the bridge, there was no sign of the Winter Soldier, but there were more Russians. They put up a bit more resistance, but again were outclassed. It was then that Nikolai appeared. Quinn took a powerful punch to the head that sent him flying, as DuBois pulled his pistol and Lee maneuvered to engage in melee, attempting to spear him through a metal wall? Bucky was caught with a number of solid bullet hits, but as usual, seemed preternaturally hale and undaunted by damage that would have incapacitated a normal man. However, the odds were not in his favor this time. Quinn missed with a tackle and fell down a set of stairs, and Lee was thrown into a computer station as he took more hits from DuBois’ pistol. Bucky turned and ran into the main control bridge, throwing the hatch shut behind him to buy him time to escape. As the team gained entry, they saw their target jumping through the bridge window, hurling towards the forward deck. They pulled up at the edge of the shattered glass and saw Nikolai on his feet and running towards the prow. DuBois pulled off one last shot and was elated to see Nikolai stumble and fall. Their nemesis was down.

The team descended to the forward deck, taking pains to ensure that Bucky was indeed dead – Lee spearing him through the heart and DuBois cutting off his head may have seemed excessive to some, but they were taking no chances. The trio then disembarked and headed back to the rebel’s ship, as the hobbled Swift slowly began to get underway once more. Without any further anti-ship weapons, the Houthi could only yell and curse as their target slowly moved off into the strait.

Swift Damaged:
Swift_ASM_damage.jpg

Having recovered the laptop’s drive, Lee set to breaking it’s encryption once they returned to their safehouse in Aden. He found a number of Skype calls made to a contact that he traced to the city of Ludwigshafen, Germany. The calls happened at seemingly random times, but always originated from Nikolai’s laptop. Lee was not convinced about the randomness, and sure enough discovered a connection between the times that the calls were made and the occurrence of a low tide in the coastal areas connected to the Arabian Sea. A perfect match, in fact.

The next low tide would occur in a few hours, so the team planned to make a call and pretend to be Nikolai. They would opt for a text-only approach, saying that connection issues were preventing Skype from working properly. At the appointed hour, the call was made, and a brief, cursory conversation happened. Traceroutes showed the call was indeed in Germany, but there was little insight gained from the perfunctory discussion. The team knew that whomever was on the other end would soon learn of the attack on the HSV2 Swift and the death of Nikolai, so they opted to pack up and follow their lead to Germany.

Travelling to Djibouti, the team made use of Lee’s skills and soon had working passports, identity cards, and travel papers to take a flight to the city of Ludwigshafen, Germany. There, they quickly set up shop in the Business-Hotel René Bohn, and planned to use the laptop as a honeypot to lure in whomever was in communication with Nikolai.

Business-Hotel René Bohn
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Choosing the nearby Lilos internet cafe, Lee set up the laptop and made a Skype call, leaving the connection open. The team were waiting in place when a small company car pulled to the curb a few minutes later.

BASF Electric Concept Car:
BASF_car.jpg

A younger corporate type emerged, and moved inside, looking around the interior and glancing at his tablet. After stopping to flirt with the receptionist, he moved over to the laptop, looking around the cafe before unplugging it and scooping it up and taking it back to his car.

The young man clearly knew no tradecraft, as he drove directly back to the BASF headquarters, parking in their employee lot and heading into the main building. Whatever was going down, was happening at the BASF complex.

BASF Chemical plant:
TDI-Anlage_der_BASF_von_oben.jpg

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"Next time on Night's Black Agents."
HSV-2 Swift Destroyed Off Yemeni Coast.



The futuristic looking HSV-2 Swift, an ex-U.S. Navy experimental high-speed logistics catamaran now being utilized by the UAE government, was struck by a missile on the evening of October 1, according to multiple reports. The ship was operating near the Yemeni port of Mokha located on the northeastern edge of the Mandeb Strait, a narrow and strategic body of water that connects the Red Sea with the Gulf of Aden. Iranian-backed Houthi rebel fighters have claimed responsibility for the attack.

The Saudi-led coalition of Sunni Arab states fighting Houthi rebels in Yemen has largely pushed them out of the southern reaches of the country, but the group is still entrenched in the west, especially along the Red Sea.

Destabilizing the Mandeb Strait could be part of a larger Iranian-backed regional strategy, one that has the potential to inflict significant economic pain on Saudi Arabia and the west. And this isn’t the first time a Sunni Arab coalition vessel has been attacked by the Shiite anti-Yemeni government group; a year ago, two coalition ships were supposedly sunk by Iranian-supplied anti-ship missiles. A third ship was struck just months before that.

The video above supposedly shows the attack. The missile launch does appear to be that of an anti-ship missile, and the ship on fire does appear to be an HSV-2. A massive explosion is shown when the supposed missile impacts the ship; it likely detonated the fuel onboard, plus any flammable or explosive cargo. The ship’s aluminum hull and commercial ship design standards offer little resilience to an anti-ship missile attack, and the HSV-2 is not equipped with a close-in weapon system (CIWS) capable of fending off such attacks.

The UAE has formally acknowledged that there was an “incident” with the ship, but claims that no lives were lost. If the video above is legitimate, which it appears to be, that would be a miracle.

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2014 - Sprechenhaltestelle Standard Briefing
<CLASSIFIED TOP SECRET>

RECONNAISSANCE BRIEFING:
Sprechenhaltestelle, situated in a somewhat run-down section of small neutral European town, has been known as the Hot Spot of the Cold War since the mid-1940’s. Here, under the guises of travelling businessmen, tourists, shopkeepers, fishermen, importers, and peasants, international foreign services’ agents have carried on a flourishing espionage business over the decades since. Information, goods, defectors, and refuges flow through this quaint waterfront community as readily as cash and bullets will allow.

The local police rarely patrol this section of town due to the low percentage of crimes reported. They tend to look the other way and let the local citizenry take care of its own misdemeanors. If the police are called, they show up in force, usually for their own protection and will normally investigate explosions and fires the next day.

It has been reported that if you want anything in the spy line you can get it in Sprechenhaltestelle. Military, political, scientific, and industrial secrets tend to wind up here. Weapons, forged papers, equipment, and pleasure can be bought for a price. Common thugs, smugglers, informers, and cutouts can almost be hired on the street. Only two things are not allowed in the district: one, to kill for no good reason, and two, to squeal on a friend.

So, with these warnings in mind both new and experienced agents can be sent her to catch up on the latest news, purchase a necessary commodity or service, or seek out personal challenges which may introduce them to the dangers and rewards of espionage.
Three major political factions are known to be represented in Sprechenhaltestelle. The West and The East both assist defectors and refugees coming over to their respective sides as well as try to detain citizens leaving their homelands. The third known faction, assumed and proclaimed Neutral, tends to aid anyone needing assistance – for a price. The three known factions exist in relative peace but will not hesitate to draw blood to reach their respective political goals.

CURRENT STATUS BRIEFING:
Somewhere in Sprechenhaltestelle East to West defectors are repeatedly captured and held at auction where they are purchased by interested powers. Two recently acquired energy technician colleagues, Ivan Ikatchtakoph and Alexei Petrov, are now believed to be within Sprechenhaltestelle. Ikatchtakoph is being held in a place called “Paradise Control” until he fetches a higher price by another power. Petrov is being entertained in “Amontillado Alley” until he shares his technical knowledge with his captors, which will be put on tape which can then be copies and sold on the world black market. Unfortunately, once finished with this exhaustive narrative Petrov will probably disappear without a trace, as many before him have already.

MISSION OPTIONS:

LOCAL KNOWLEDGE/RUMORS:

EMBARKATION:
Sprechenhaltestelle is of easy access. No one seems to notice or care whether you arrive at the waterfront by marine vehicle or step out of a land vehicle on one of the surrounding avenues.

Due to city zoning laws and the new influx of tourist trade, many of the inner streets and alleys are closed to motorized traffic. Land vehicles cannot be parked along the surrounding avenues. Marine vehicles cannot remain docked along the wharf due to merchant vessels loading and unloading. If an agent can travel off the edge of the map, even if he has to swim, he is considered beyond pursuit and safely dispatched.
Weapons are electronically enhanced to provide real-time live fire ballistic data, and appropriate responses will be issues via your earjacks. Physical CQC is permitted – standard training engagement rules are enforced. Referees are available online at all times.
Customarily, agents arrive either by walking into this district on foot, being let off on the curb by cars or taxis, or rarely, by water. Air travel stirs up too much notice since there is no local airport or heliport near Sprechenhaltestelle.

Good luck!

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2014 - Shaw's After Action Report
<CLASSIFIED TOP SECRET>

Friday, October 10

The assessment of the team continues. Oliver Quinn has taken up for the night in the Flophouse, while Dr. Felix duBois and Hung-Ke Lee are ensconced in the Hotel for the evening.

The team was quick to find and eliminate the rooftop sniper from the Marine Supplies building, and have been cautious about town in their conversations. They seem suitably suspicious of the Hotel rooms and have taken precautions to not be overheard.


Saturday, October 11

The team woke up to the morning “alarm” klaxon and prepared to fulfill their respective missions.

A recap individual training mission parameters follows.

Hung-Ke Lee was tasked with the following specific information regarding his mission:

MISSION OPTIONS:
There are two missions tasked to you at this time.

The first mission is to find those responsible for the capturing and auctioning of these defectors who have already earned their freedom from the East. Once you have identified them, you are to make sure they remain unopposed in this mission.

The second mission concerns your fellow agents. They are known to be working for the West and will attempt rescue of Ivan Ikatchtakoph and Alexei Petrov. You must prevent this from happening, but must keep your cover intact. While they may suspect you are working for the East, you must not allow them direct evidence that can corroborate that belief.

LOCAL KNOWLEDGE/RUMORS:
• Beware a rooftop sniper with a scope!
• The delicatessen serves some of the most unlucky people in town.



Oliver Quinn was tasked with the following specific information regarding his mission:

MISSION OPTIONS:
There are three missions tasked to you at this time.

The first mission is to find those responsible for the capturing and auctioning of these defectors who have already earned their freedom from the East. Once you have identified the culprits, you are to make sure they cease their despicable kidnapping.

The second mission is to locate and disrupt “Paradise Control,” rescue Ikatchtakoph, and get out of town alive.

The final mission is to locate “Amontillado Alley,” rescue Petrov if he’s alive, destroy any tapes he has made if he can talk (if not, take the tapes with you), and discover how captured defectors vanish without a trace.

Note that one of your fellow agents is suspected to be working for the East under deep cover. He must not be allowed to disrupt these missions. Should you confirm this to be true, you are granted full license to “eliminate” him at your discretion, however, your cover should not be compromised.

LOCAL KNOWLEDGE:
• If you try to buy a magic carpet, be prepared to fly upon it.
• Ivan Ikatchtakoph and Alexei Petrov have been eliminated.



Dr. Felix DuBois was tasked with the following specific information regarding his mission:

MISSION OPTIONS:
There are two missions tasked to you at this time.

The first mission concerns Alexei Petrov. You must prevent him from escaping Sprechenhaltestelle, but must maintain your cover above all. His work is invaluable to us and must not be allowed to be stolen.

The second mission concerns Ivan Ikatchtakoph and “Paradise Control.” Ivan must be eliminated at all costs, and “Paradise Control” must be destroyed. It is preferable that you maintain cover in this endeavor also, and are encouraged to use your fellow agents towards this end.

Regarding them, they are considered expendable in both missions. You are not permitted to directly eliminate them, but if they fall in the line of duty…

LOCAL KNOWLEDGE/RUMORS:
• A well protected and concealed submarine occasionally visits Sprechenhaltestelle at night only.
• A Wizard in the basement of a bar knows you’re here and who you are.



The team reassembled after breakfast and started immediately looking for connections between their accumulated knowledge and the town at hand. Their initial explorations led them to the Carpet Shop, where Quinn’s knowledge of the code phrase “magic carpet,” allowed them access into the basement elevator and thus to the public entry of the “Pair-A-Dice” casino.

The Pair-A-Dice casino:
Casino.png
Morecasino.jpg


They successfully passed themselves off as ordinary guests of the establishment and were quick to reconnoiter the underground environs. Quinn was deployed as a distraction on the main casino floor, while DuBois’ clumsy attempts at infiltrating a door (in plain sight), was saved by Lee’s quick actions to disable the guards that were taking DuBois to Paradise Control to be jailed. They were able to bypass the door electronic and physical security, as well as a subsequent guard, and were able to locate and free Ivan Ikatchtakoph. Quinn chose to use the self-destruct system (why do we have this again?) to cover their escape, but in addition to effectively killing everyone in the underground complex, DuBois took advantage of the distraction to eliminate Ikatchtakoph per his mission instructions.

The team fled the complex and proceeded to their next target, choosing to investigate the Deli. They were unable to find any leads there, but moved next door to the wine shop and inquired about a “cask of Amontillado,” thus gaining entry into Amontillado Alley and it’s variety of illegal and underground (literally and figuratively) shops.

Amontillado Alley:
Alley.jpg
Alley_press.jpg
Gun_shop.jpg
pronshop.jpg

They surveilled the shops, and quickly determined where Petrov was being held. Quickly moving against his lone guard, they were able to rescue Alexei and extracted him from the town, ending the simulation run.


Conclusions
DuBois was partially successful in following his mission parameters, but was overtly heavy-handed in his treatment of others in a simulated environment, even going so far as to use extreme force against other agents while in the training. He shows signs of singular dispassion in this work, and is likely to be either an extremely talented wetworker or an antisocial psychopath.

Quinn was able to complete a majority of his mission, but also seemed to rejoice in excessive destruction and seemed at times to be confused or distracted. He is clearly talented in regards to his previous skills as a driver and explosives expert, but it remains to be seen if he can keep it together in the future.

Lee completely failed in his missions, yet was also the one agent who seemed to be most in control during the training. His skills cannot be denied, and he was the only one who seemed to value his current team over his stated mission parameters. He will likely end up being the de facto leader of this team.

While these three seemed to work at opposition to each other, they were still able to mostly function as a team and showed signs of potential. They have tremendous skills and abilities that they can bring to the table, and their previous experience in European agencies would prove to be an asset moving forward.

I am calling for their reassignment to the IMF under UNAD cover, reporting to Christine Lagarde. They will be tasked to me initially before moving back to standard UNAD handlers after further training and evaluation.

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DuBois' After Action Report
Operation 2 - "Sprechenhaltestelle"

It was after midnight when we received the mail from Dr. Bell. Her report was thorough, as usual, but we were obviously not dealing with a normal pathology. I read through it a number of times, but couldn’t make any more sense of the findings myself. The hematology was all wrong. Frankly, it was baffling.

After receiving the disturbing report from the CDC, I needed time to think. Alone. Away from the ramblings of Quinn and the distractions of Lee. I left the safehouse, making sure I wasn’t tailed, and took a cab back to the downtown district. Curiously, I found most of the nightclubs closed for the evening. Must be an Arabic thing. I did find one hotel bar still open, and found a relatively quiet corner to relax. Interesting place after midnight. You meet all kinds there.

In the morning, I awoke to no new revelations. Quinn and Lee were up, but they were out of their league here. Quinn posited the theory that Nikolai was some sort of “terminator machine,” whatever that is supposed to be. Some movie thing I’d hazard, knowing his predilections for the cinema.

We were at wit’s end, so Lee made a call back to HQ and spoke with our handler. She suggested that we refocus on the Russian and see if we could ascertain if he was still in Dubai for the presumed black-market sale, and if so, eliminate him and the buyers. Looking into the emails from “Jacob” was a logical place to start, and Lee quickly found a current correspondence from Nikolai to him stating that he had “reacquired the target.” Our original assumption was that he was sent to retrieve the NOC lists, but it appears we were in error and that his target was in fact, Kristina Svechinskaya, and always had been. We needed to locate Nikolai immediately and determine how best to proceed.

Lee still had administrative access into the Dubai city traffic camera system, so we started there. Finally having some images for facial recognition made it much easier, and within an hour we had a hit on the Bratva thug. We found him being escorted around town by a NAST bodyguard. And regardless of his sometimes questionable taste in liquors and tobacco, I have to give old Quinn the nod here – his earlier expedition to the Russian restaurant Skazka Al Saha was accurate, if not precise. For that restaurant seemed to be a common stop for our Nikolai. Now that we had found him, it was a simple matter to lock onto his chauffeur’s license plate and begin tracking his moves throughout the city. But for the nonce, we lit out and headed towards the restaurant.

When we got there, the car was still there, and while we were able to ID the driver, Nikolai himself was not present. Lee proceeded to hack into the cellular network and we were able to trace the text messages between Nikolai and his driver. We spoofed the channel and sent the driver a text instructing him to pick up Nikolai. Our earlier suspicions that he would be holed up nearby almost proved certain, but the driver passed by our original target of the Diplomat Hotel.

Diplomat Hotel:
Diplomat-Hotel.jpg

Instead we found ourselves headed toward the nearby Fortune Grand Hotel Deira Dubai. We quickly called off the ride via another text, and proceeded to enter the hotel in search of Nikolai and his captive.

Fortune Grand Hotel:
Fortune_Grand_Hotel.jpg

A bit of social engineering enabled us to ascertain that one “Bucky Barnes” was indeed staying here in room 842. Using a hotel keycard, we entered an adjoining room, and Lee began his electronic infiltration of the target’s room. We were able to positively identify Ms. Svechinskaya as a captive. She seemed unconscious, likely drugged, but was otherwise unharmed. Given the noted physical capabilities of the target, we decided on an indirect approach and used a diversion to lure Nikolai from him room to the front desk – a parcel of good Russian vodka was the carrot, and Lee furthered the ruse by using the driver’s spoofed phone to send a confirmation message. Once Nikolai took the bait, we entered the room and extracted Ms. Svechinskaya. As I suspected, she was deeply drugged, and I recommended we return with her to the safehouse. But first, we waited until Nikolai returned to see his reaction.

To say that Nikolai was livid was an understatement. He flew off in a rage and left the room searching for the girl. We waited for him to come back, but he never returned. Instead his driver came in about 3/4 of an hour later, packed up the few items in the room and left. We followed as he rendezvoused with Nikolai in their car, but backed off as they drove off, as we still had operational control of the traffic cam system. Their final destination was the .Skazka Al Saha.

At this point we had additional intel that showed that Nikolai was meeting up with someone from the Solntsevskaya Bratva. He had spoken recently to someone in Moscow named Ivan and confirmed that one Vladislav was travelling to receive the package (i.e. Ms. Svechinskaya). Recently events apparently had impacted the timetable and the meeting was scheduled to take place the following morning at 8:00 AM at the restaurant. We established that the Vladislav in question was likely Vladislav Vladimirovich Leontyev, a well-known Russian mafyosi. We quickly set up an intercept plan and put it into action the next morning.

Leontyev was positively ID’d at the airport, and was tracked to the restaurant, where we rendezvoused.

Skazka Al Saha Russian restaurant:
Skazka_front.jpg

After the Russians entered the restaurant, they were escorted to the singular private meeting room in the establishment. Two guards were posted outside of the meeting room while one went out front and another went into the kitchen, presumably to watch the back entrance. Quinn and Lee entered the front and took a table. After the Russian’s orders were delivered, we made our move.

Quinn and Lee quickly dispatched the meeting room guards and I took out the point man, moving quickly to the kitchen to neutralize the rear guard. From the reports of Quinn and Lee they burst in through Vthe door and took out two of the remaining guards immediately. Leontyev took shelter under a table, and Nikolai took a round and went down, but did not remain so. Showing the same resilience as our last encounter, he came at Quinn and both fell into the main restaurant floor. Lee engaged with his Jiǔjiébiān (or as he calls it, his “3.0 spiked chain?”), and was able to get in some solid blows while Quinn moved to distract Nikolai’s gunplay.

Once again, I would question our own credibility as to the next sequence of events, had I not seen this previously. Nikolai seemed sorely wounded, and suddenly wheeled and threw an entire table into Lee, dodged around Quinn and crashed through a plate glass window into the street outside, immediately running out of sight. Quinn gave chase, but only caught a glimpse of Nikolai at the next street corner. Quinn allegedly saw Nikolai down a vial of a bluish liquid before he moved off further out of sight. Lee terminated Leontyev and his remaining guard per our directive.

As we were dangerously close to being blown, we immediately exfiltrated before we were made, and headed back to our safehouse.

Once there, we contacted our handler Sylvia and received the following message in return: “Sending MI6 assets for joint operational assist. ETA 20.”

This had us on edge immediately. We had no operational contact with MI6 previously, and while discussing this turn of events received a heavily encrypted message which read: “You’ve been burned. Leave now. Burj Khalifa. 1 hour.”

We immediately destroyed our communication devices, wiped the laptop, and left empty-handed. Lee had previously prepared an escape plan and we put it into play. We were on our way to the meet when all of us simultaneously received notifications of incoming email into our private accounts…

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2014 - Sprechenhaltestelle

2014

You are the best of the best. You know it. Your handler knows it. The home office calls you “Bond” or “Bourne” and they’re only half-joking when they say it.

So, it comes as somewhat of a surprise when you’re called into the office, are put on administrative leave, and ordered to take a psych eval. The last mission was a cake-walk, and nothing on your previous missions raised a red flag. But orders are orders.

As is procedure, you hand in your piece and take the instruction packet. You tear open the envelop as you leave the office and read the business card inside.

Tilmer Engebretson, PhD
7927 Jones Branch Dr Suite 6125
McLean, VA 22102
U.S.A.

You arrived in Virginia and met with Dr. Engebretson. It wasn’t what you expected, and you were almost summarily dismissed and led off to a conference room where you were instructed to wait.

And then the others started to show up. You maintained your silence, because you weren’t sure if this was a setup or not. And in walked Jason Shaw. An agency man, clearly, but as he explained the situation, you weren’t quite sure for which agency he worked.

There was a new training facility being vetted for espionage activities, apparently. Something new and elaborate, and they (whomever “they” were), wanted some seasoned field agents to run the gauntlet and put the facility through its paces. And you were part of the team that was “volunteered” by your original agencies for this honor…

It stunk. But at least you weren’t burnt. So there was little to do but go along for the ride.

The next morning you were taken by car to a remote wooded area, where a MH-60M Black Hawk waited to take you on a six hour flight to the town of Sprechenhaltestelle. You were each given a dossier to read on the flight, which included your general and specific assignments for the simulation. You were issued nearly perfect weapons that had been spec’d out with some fairly complex electronic systems designed to assess and emulate real-life firing solutions. Very high tech.

As you touched down in a large clearing, you exited the helicopter and got your first glimpse of the town of Sprechenhaltestelle in the fading east coast light. A number of buildings laid out in a square in the middle of the clearing. Woods and metal fencing on the perimeter, and a 30’ wide concrete slab surrounded the structures themselves.

Jason explained that the grassy area was considered a “safe zone,” and that successfully making it there after completing the mission parameters would be considered a success. He went over the other guidelines and then left the team to start their mission.

The buildings were fairly generic, and included an obvious warehouse and a seedy bar, which the team was immediately drawn to as their first stop. The inside was a typical European dive bar, and the middle-aged bartender could have worked in any city. He hailed the team and asked for their orders, explaining precious little about the town’s layout under questioning. The two other bar patrons patently ignored the team, but an wizened old man soon appeared in the doorway and tottered over to the group. He introduced himself as “Doc Black,” and offered his services for a substantial amount of money. Money which the team discovered they did not have. A complication, it seemed.

Not finding much of value in the bar, the team headed off east towards a building that advertised itself as “Hotel.” Sure enough, it was one. A youngish blonde woman was manning a large telephone switchboard behind the counter, and at the sound of the team’s entrance, came over to assist them. Apparently, both DuBois and Lee had reservations for their rooms – being in rooms 191 and 13 respectively. Quinn, however, was out of luck, as no reservation was found, nor were any rooms available. The night clerk suggested trying the local flophouse. Or the inn next door. DuBois asked to be shown to his room, and Lee took advantage of the opportunity to check out the switchboard, which seemingly had open lines into every room. Bugged, then.

The inn next door was called “Inn,” of course. Unfortunately for Quinn, no rooms were available there either. So the team proceeded south past the town cafe. They were passing by a tailor’s shop when four men dressed in nondescript clothes and classic black bandit masks and carrying “blackjacks” accosted the team. DuBois advised the criminals to desist, but they pressed their attack, and he lashed out, a bit too hard perhaps, with the butt of his pistol and caught one of the men solidly in the jaw. He went down like a brick. The other thugs pressed their attack, and Quinn pulled out his gun firing it soundlessly into the air.

<pause>
Everyone paused and was now staring at the old explosives expert, who was now incredulously looking at his rigged electronic pistol wondering why nothing had happened…

The fight continued, with the thugs quickly overwhelmed and “unconscious” on the sidewalk. As two zebra-clad referees emerged from the shadows to check on the thugs, the team continued on their way around the town after rolling the thugs for some spending money.

The next hour was spent familiarizing themselves with the layout of the town. Lee wanted a closer look on the locked warehouse and it’s roaming watchdogs, and led the team into one of the deserted warehouses for a sneak and peek from the rooftop. It was while up there that the sniper attacked!

Blam!

The high caliber shot rang out in everyone’s left ear (in the earbud microphone each team member had been issues). Diving for cover, the assailant was quickly located on the roof of the marine supply store near the center of town. DuBois pulled his pistol, took aim, and cleanly hit the sniper right between the eyes. A quick trip down to the street and over to the supply store led to finding a maintenance ladder to the roof, where the downed sniper sat smoking a cigarette while they traversed the streets to his location. The team and the dead sniper had a chat, and wished him luck in getting some time off as opposed to being killed by the team later on in another role.

As the hour was getting late, the team renewed their town surveillance, and soon discovered the local flophouse for Quinn. The team decided there was not much else to do this evening, and turned in for the night.

View
Lee's After Action Report
Operation 2 - "Sprechenhaltestelle"

Hey Sylvia,

Here’s the latest. Want to do Hellfire Citadel this weekend?

— Lee


=====BEGIN SECURE TRANSMISSION======
After talking to the Russian hacker, Kristina Svechinskaya, Felix discovered that she had been contacted by a “Jacob” over email and hired to do the work on the NOC lists. Tracing her email only led to a dummy email account on an internet cafe located in the Solntsevo District of Moscow.

We got the info on her friend from the plane – one Nikolai Limrovich. A bad dude. Military, some dubious mafiya connections, interestingly enough with the Solntsevo Bratva. Coincidence? Not likely. He’s definitely a heavy-hitter for the “Organizatsiya.”

Orders came back to check Nikolia’s blood sample, so Felix pulled his old cover of Felipe Petian of Doctors Without Borders. Ashcan got to be the heavy, and I was the research assistant (again!).

Did a search on the medical/research facilities in UAE, and best option was the Mediclinic City Hospital in Dubai, so we prepped for entry, making sure our window dressing was airtight.

Mediclinic City Hospital street view:
City-Hospital.jpg

Satellite view:
MCH.JPG


Entry was made the next morning. I was able to gain access to the hospital’s systems (they need to update their firewalls ASAP), and updated our bona fides.

The facility was not up to Felix’s standards (not surprising there), so he had to send some data off to our contact at the CDC, Beth.

Ashcan got it in his head that the Russians might have a place to sharpen their knives, huh? ;)

Found some likely Russian-owned places around the city, and headed out to the closest one that seemed likely, the Skazka Al Saha.

Russian_restaurant.jpg
Russian_restaurant2.jpg


We headed out and sure enough, found some Bratva thugs. Ashcan intercepted one in the restroom and inquired about the “Jacob” connection, but the Russian didn’t have any knowledge concerning him. Felix sanitized the scene and we left the Russian sleeping on the toilet.

Arrived back at our safehouse. Now we wait.

=====END SECURE TRANSMISSION========

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Lab Report Transcription

To:
Dr. Felipe Petian, MD
Médecins Sans Frontières
Mediclinic City Hospital
Dubai Healthcare City
Dubai, UAE

From:
Beth P. Bell, MD, MPH
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Office of Infectious Diseases (OID)
National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases (NCEZID)
1600 Clifton Road Atlanta, GA 30329-4027 USA

Subject: Blood sample CDC-100576-DG

Date: August 5, 2016

Part I: Introduction
Mediclinic City Hospital of Dubai technicians collected specimen tagged with CDC Identification Number CDC-100576-DG. Said specimen was drawn from a subject suspected of carrying a new strain of avian flu. The investigating doctor’s initial hypothesis was that the blood was from person unknown from the country of Yemen. As required when dealing with a highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI), test runs and results were coordinated between local resources and the OID center in Atlanta, Georgia, USA.

The specimen was immediately noteworthy in its failure to coagulate. Blood exposed to air typically begins to lose its viscosity within eight to ten minutes. Initial testing indicated the specimen was chemically similar to blood serum, which lacks fibrinogen, the chief clotting agent in whole blood.

Approximately six hours after arriving at the lab, the specimen – by then divided into a number of subsamples for analysis – underwent a dramatic and unexplained morphological modification, transforming itself from a free-flowing liquid to a touch, non-water-soluble compound resembling Teflon.

The possibility exists that the specimen was contaminated prior to arriving at the lab with an unknown substance that led to the reaction. Further analysis is required to identify the change agent.

Unfortunately, the specimen’s sudden desiccation rendered it questionable whether enough DNA could be extracted for genetic matching to a subject. Further attempts to extract DNA from the specimen are continuing at this time.

Part II: Testing
A complete battery of hematological tests were underway on the sample at the time of desiccation. Full or partial tests were run in the following areas:

1. Blood typing (red-blood-cell antigen analysis)
2. Red and white blood cell counts
3. Hemoglobin concentration
4. Sedimentation rate
5. Blood cell structure
6. Characteristics relating to hemoglobin and other plasma proteins
7. Blood chemistry
8. Enzyme activity

The technical report, including copies of the autoanalyzer printouts, complete where available, accompanies this report.

Part III: Anomalies present in specimen
A number of abnormalities and irregularities were observed in the specimen:

A. Clotting factors
As previously mentioned, until the moment of dramatic desiccation the specimen exhibited characteristics similar to blood serum, from which the fibrinogen has been removed to prevent clotting during storage and transfusion. Indeed, no fibrinogen appeared present in the initial battery of tests. There are two possible explanations for the absence of fibrinogen in the sample:

1. The first possibility is that the fibrinogen had been removed in a blood lab. This seems unlikely, since it would mean the blood found did not come from a donor but was spilled from a plasma bag. Or, and even more unlikely scenario, perhaps the subject recently underwent a massive plasma transfusion. Both possibilities seem remote.

2. Another, more likely, explanation is that the absence of fibrinogen resulted from unknown biological actions in the donors who blood was commingled in the specimen. (See below)

A pronounced absence of thrombocytes was observed in the specimen. A typical adult has between 150,000 and 400,000 platelets per cubic millimeter of blood. Fewer than 10,000 platelets per cubic millimeter were present in the specimen. A platelet count of this level is typical indicative of a number of serious pathologies, including leukemia, thrombocytopenia, hemophilia, and Von Willebrand’s disease.

Data and analysis time were insufficient to identify the exact nature of the pathology responsible for the platelet count and other anomalies.

In summary, it appears likely that the individual whose blood was sampled suffered from a pathology that depleted his blood’s fibrinogen and thrombocyte levels. Further implications of such a condition are discussed in more detail below in this report.

B. Red cell malformation
Three types of erythrocytes, or red blood cells, were identified in the specimen:

1. Healthy adult red cells: Biconcave in shape, with no visible structures within the cell membrane, each lacking a nucleus, as is normal in mature erythrocyte cells. These cells measured approximately 7.8 micrometers. Hemoglobin – which transports oxygen in the blood – constituted about a third of each cell, as is typical in a healthy adult.

2. Diseased red cells: These erythrocytes were approximately the size of the healthy cells, but exhibited an abnormal elongating similar to that present in sickle-cell anemia. The abnormal cells resembled the “ghost” cells that dying red cells become after they lose their hemoglobin. Each of these cells contained a nucleus that appeared to be densely packed with genetic information. Since healthy red cells lose their nuclei as they mature, the presence of DNA in the nuclei of the diseased erythrocytes indications an unexplained abnormality in the donor’s capacity to produced healthy red blood cells. Additionally, these abnormal cells displayed an anomaly that is unmentioned in the medical literature. These DNA-rich “ghost” cells displayed a bluish tint, due, preliminary test results indicated, to the unexplained presence of hemocyanin. (See further discussion of hemocyanin below.)

3. Hybrid cells: These cells appear to be the result of an unknown biological action – potentially result from action of a retrovirus – in which abnormal erythrocytes inject the healthy red blood cells with foreign genetic information, resulting in the formation of a “super” erythrocyte. These mutant cells were larger than the typical normal red blood cell, measuring approximately 10 micrometers in diameter. Preliminary evidence indicated that the hemoglobin in the hybrid cells had superior oxygen-transport capabilities. A hemoglobin molecule contains four iron atoms, each binding with one oxygen molecule as the blood passed through the lungs. Subsequent tests – incomplete at the time the blood desiccated – indicated the hemoglobin in the hybrid red blood cells had a much higher affinity for oxygen than the normal cells, each molecule of hybrid hemoglobin capable of bonding with either oxygen molecules. These “super” erythrocytes, however, appeared to be extremely short-lived. The cell membrane of the hybrids was abnormally thing, perhaps due to the stretching required to contain the greater cell volume. This additional stress to the cell membrane seemed to make the hybrid cells especially prone to hemolysis – the rupture of cells, resulting in the hemoglobin dissolving into the plasma medium. A high percentage of the hybrid cells observed in the specimen evidenced premature coagulate necrosis and other morphological characteristics associated with cell death.

C. Blood Typing
A portion of the specimen was put in a centrifuge to separate the red blood cells from the plasma. Additionally, this action separated the healthy cells from the diseased and the hybrid cells. The division of red blood cells made it possible to identify the blood group among three distinct sets of cells. This, in turn, led to the discovery that the sample of blood was not from one but two distinct donors. Furthermore, blood grouping tests indicated that the hybrid cells were apparently formed from the healthy cells of Donor A after undergoing a retro-virus like action instigated by the diseased cells of Donor B.

Blood cells are broken into four major groups according to the antigen molecules attached to the cells. These common types are A, B, AB, and O. The healthy cells tested to be type A. The damaged cells possessed the antigen properties of group B. The hybrid cells proved to be type AB.

Although the blood group of the hybrid cells could indicate the presence of a third donor, it is my opinion, based upon the other available test data indicating the action of the B-type cells against the A-type cells, that the AB hybrid cells are a result of the reaction, heretofore unobserved in the medical literature, of the B cells against the A cells.

This hypothesis is strengthened by the consideration that the homicide victim had type A blood. Further evidence supporting this hypothesis is found in the fact that the AB cells had a very weak antigen reaction – so weak that the blood group was only able to be identified using the lab’s most sensitive equipment. Although confirmation requires further testing, it appears that the antigens in the AB cells are so mild that the specimen could be transfused into virtually any recipient without provoking the adverse reaction common to mismatched transfusions.

D. Other anomalies observed in the specimen
Other unusual pathologies among the diseased cells in the specimen were observed:

1. The low density of red cells in the B donor was indicative of severe polycythemia.

2. A blue pigment known as hemocyanin, noted above, was isolated in the damaged cells. This pigment, which is blue because of its copper content, has not been observed before in the hemoglobin of human specimens. (Human blood gets its distinctive red coloration from its iron content.) Hemocyanin is typically found in crustaceans and other invertebrates with “open” blood systems, and is not especially efficient at transporting oxygen. The presence of hemocyanin in the unhealthy cells remains unexplained, and has never before been noted in medical literature.

3. High protein count. The plasma in the sample was remarkable for its protein content. Instead of the usual 6% to 8% protein found in mammalian blood, the aggregate sample was 75% water and 25% protein.

4. Abnormal pH. The pH of healthy blood is acidic. The sample, however, was a flat neutral balance between acidic and alkaline, at 7.000

5. Elevated globulin. Globulins are plasma proteins that fight disease and toxins. Globulins were present in radically elevated levels in the specimen, indicating either the presence of a massive, potentially lethal infection or a pathology such as leukemia. It is possible that, given the unique structure of the hybrid red cells, Donor B possesses other undescribed physiological advances, including an extraordinary immune system, as evidenced by the globulin level.


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Quinn's After Action Report
Operation 1 - "A Fire in the Sky"

- BEGIN SECURE TRANSMISSION
D58D2^B3zI7"7sl’]K15YVn+vrW6U{ZwRFTcs03l92?]8a4`en2foFR|L3NC[3EoRY;TtEU0aNiZ~jh{%99l0zRyh{aw0q&Gy:,i%Ca07:5’ok$’


United Nations Anti-Terrorist Division
Washington, D.C.

MEMORANDUM FOR DIRECTOR CHRISTINE LAGARDE

FROM: Oliver Quinn

DATE: August 3, 2016

SUBJECT: Dubai 777 incident

OPERATION: Red Falcon

TEAM: Delta Green

DEPLOYED LOCATION: Dubai, United Arab Emirates


On August 3, 2016, our team was dispatched from Trivandrum International Airport – Thiruvananthapuram , Kerala, India on UAE Emirates flight EK521 headed to Dubai International Airport. On that flight was suspected hacker and Russian money mule Kristina Svechinskaya, suspected of the theft of Non-Official Cover (NOC) lists from MI6, the CIA, the NIS, and Mossad.


Emirates Boeing 777-300ER:
777.jpg

SIGINT suggested that a meet was scheduled at a private airport near Dubai, and that Ms. Svechinskaya would be attended to sell the NOC lists to the highest bidder. Ms. Svechinskaya was seated in seat 2B. Seated next to her was a Russian man with a prodigious build – an athlete or military perhaps – who seemed to be fixated on impressing Ms. Svechinskaya with his wit and charm, or lack thereof. He appeared to be not be a travelling companion, nor did he seem suspicious in his behavior at that time. Dr. DuBois attempted a passby to ensure his cooperation, but was unsuccessful in his attempt. It seemed like bad luck but in retrospect it was more likely he was operationally aware of his environment and was actively surveilling the cabin area. Lee proceeded to intrude into the 777’s wifi to run a search on the Russian, and while he was unable to positively identify him, the Emirate flight system was able to confirm he was booked on the flight manifest as “Bucky Barnes,” an obvious pseudonym for the Marvel comics character – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bucky. We decided to keep an eye on him as well as our target.

The flight was proceeding normally until appx. 11:55 AM local time, when we noticed four men dressed in traditional Arabic garb and armed with 9mm H&K MP5 submachine gun with scopes and laser sights entered the first class cabin seemingly intent on hijacking the plane, which had just begun its approach sequence for Dubai. The men spoke in Arabic and halting English, gesturing with their safety-free weapons at the passengers for emphasis. While no one on the team is proficient at Arabic, neither did these “Islamic terrorists” seem to be. They were clearly on a timetable as one kept referencing his watch, and even given the bulkiness of their garb, were clearly wearing some kind of concealable ballistic armor. While they carried themselves as professionals, their choice of weaponry led us to believe that these men were in fact, not terrorists, but had an agenda that intended others believe that they were so.

Two of the subjects entered the cockpit cabin area, and two remained on guard. I was able to verify at least one other in the economy cabin. Given the situation and our lack of armaments (other than the handgun carried by Dr. DuBois as part of his cover), we decided to wait until landing before making any move on the men. During this period we noticed a number of concealed tattoos on the subjects which seemed to indicate their origin as Russian Mafiya, likely of the Solntsevskaya Bratva. Dr. DuBois was later able to confirm that their weapon choice also corroborated this theory.

Upon landing, the plane was brought to halt while still on the runway. As one of the two subjects left our area, suddenly “Bucky Barnes” surged from his seat and tackled the remaining subject into a supporting wall, knocking him unconscious. He then immediately began to open the nearby cabin door and after succeeding, pulled the emergency chute controls. Dr. DuBois attempted to move forward to intercept, but the Russian quickly returned and pulled Ms. Svechinskaya to her feet and towards the open chute. As Dr DuBois quickened his pace towards them, the other two subjects from the cockpit area emerged and confronted the Russian, at which time he gestured towards Dr. DuBois and exited the airplane with Ms. Svechinskaya in tow. The subjects moved to engage Dr DuBois, who drew his sidearm and terminated one with a headshot. Mr. Lee engaged the remaining subject and was able to distract him sufficiently for me to enter CQC with him. In our struggle we exited the aircraft and descended the emergency slide.

While Lee and I were engaged, Dr. DuBois had already exited the craft in pursuit of Ms. Svechinskaya and her seeming captor. On the tarmac, two police sedans were idling, and the Russian was manhandling Ms. Svechinskaya into the backseat of the first. We were able to take down the subject I had tackled, but not before a series of explosions sounded throughout the 777 and flames erupted from the wings and fuselage. Given the sounds of the detonations, I can only assume that the subjects who set up the charges were amateurs as the entire plane should have been destroyed if they had been deployed correctly. As it was, the plane was afire, but was intact and the passengers were making their way off via the emergency exits.

News report on 777 fire:
Plane_makes_crash_landing_at_Dubai_airpo_0_43614321_ver1.0_640_480.jpg

Dr. DuBois was able to puncture a tyre, but the vehicle was still drivable and could be seen heading towards the main terminal. The team was able to eliminate the driver of the remaining police vehicle (said subject was not dressed as an officer of the UAE) and began to pursue the first vehicle, which was now out of sight.

Upon reaching the terminal, it was determined that the subjects had switched cars and were now fleeing in a Dubai Police Interceptor heading west on the D89 highway.


File photo Dubai Police interceptor:
Dubai_police.jpg

We gave pursuit, and while Mr. Lee was able to utilize Dubai’s traffic camera system to assist us, we were unable to catch up to the subjects until they exited the highway near the Port Saeed Plaza, at which point Dr. DuBois was able to shoot out another tyre, causing the vehicle to lose control and crash into a number of pedestrian vehicles before coming to a stop inside a Gloria Jean’s Coffee shop:


Gloria Jean’s Coffee shop, Dubai:
Gloria_Jean_Coffee.JPG

We immediately exited our vehicle and engaged the subjects. The driver appeared to be another Russian, and as he was armed, was our initial target. When that target was down, we turned our attention to “Bucky,” who had emerged from the crashed vehicle with Ms. Svechinskaya and what appeared to be a wireless explosives detonator in hand. The device was not dead-man equipped, so I attempted to disarm him but was unsuccessful. Dr. DuBois then engaged and I was able to close ground and take out the subject with HK fire. Ms. Svechinskaya attempted to flee at this point, and Dr. DuBois went to intercept her.

At this point, a number of strange events transpired. I am at a loss of words to explain how these events came to be, but my teammates were also witness to these events I describe next.

As we were attempting to exit the coffee shop, “Bucky Barnes” stood up and ran full speed at Mr. Lee, slamming him head-first into the wrecked car and throwing him approximately 4 meters into a nearby wall. He then turned to engage me as I took cover behind our vehicle. He then ran up and kicked the car, knocking it off of the ground and into me sending me sprawling and moving the stationary vehicle skidding along the pavement into other cars. Both Lee and I received extensive injuries, including bruised ribs and numerous contusions, but were still active.


Damage from kick:
Quinn_car.jpg

“Bucky” then proceeded to flee the scene, moving at an amazingly fast sprint down the now-crowded street. Due to the increased presence of civilians and the impending appearance of law enforcement and the absence of the explosive detonator, we chose to abandon pursuit and hastily surveyed the subject’s vehicle. Three suitcases were recovered, one of which was the aforementioned explosive device, which we disarmed. The others contained clothing and cash ($500,000 American), respectively. We then exited the scene taking Ms. Svechinskaya with us to a nearby safehouse.

After interrogation, we were able to retrieve and verify the NOC lists on her laptop and destroyed them per instructions. We also discovered initial contacts were made to her by someone named as “Jacob,” who had requested her services for the heists and had apparently set up the Dubai meet. Dr. DuBois was also able to recover a blood sample from her clothing of what we suspect was “Bucky Barnes” blood. We contacted headquarters for a status update and were given instructions to have the blood recovered from “Bucky Barnes” tested.

END OF TRANSMISSION -

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August 3, 2016
Accident at Dubai Airport
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