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.
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:
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:
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…