A Walk in the Shadows

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RE: Travel to Dubai

Gentlemen,

As requested, your travel itineraries are attached.

If you have any further requests, please let me know.

Sincerely,
Amy Maxwell
International Monetary Fund
700 19th Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20431.

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3 Questions

Quinn: Why are you on this particular flight today?

Lee: Why were you in India?

duBois: Do you know anyone in Dubai?

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Seating chart

Emirates_Airlines_Boeing_777.jpg

Emirates_Airlines_Boeing_777.jpg

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August 3, 2016
Accident at Dubai Airport
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Quinn's After Action Report
Operation 1 - "A Fire in the Sky"

- BEGIN SECURE TRANSMISSION
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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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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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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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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.

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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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