String Theory

Blood Opera

The team sets up a fake ownership trail for the van that ended in the Danube two nights ago hoping the authorities follow it to their enemies instead of them. Guy meanwhile checks out an old cache site only to discover that the CIA cleaned it out months ago.

As John sleeps off the bruises from the day’s excitement, Guy busies himself building a modified humidifier to disperse antibiotics through the Vienna State Opera building. Scarlet comes back as he finishes up loaded with supplies taken from a local hospital. Guy fills the device up with the stolen antibiotics and heads for the opera. In the dark hours of the night he installs it in the ventilation system.

The next day, Nasir slips in as an usher and makes his way backstage. As he nears the pyrotechnics, a security guard accosts him. The guard asks for his badge. The spy pats his jacket before explains he left it at home and quickly concocts a story about what he is doing back here. The guard, mollified, lets him finish his business. Alone at last, Nasir compromises the pyrotechnics and immediately vacates the building.

As the opera house opens, Scarlet clicks through the security feeds at the team’s hotel room. Nasir and Guy wait in a freshly lifted van a few blocks from the venue. Inside Volkov receives forged orders to include John and Feinberg in the security detail. She storms off to talk to Moscow about this intrusion into her domain, leaving Popov in charge of Shevlenko. He stations the new bodyguards outside the Russian delegation’s box along with the towering Kaminski. Shevlenko simply gives them a knowing look.

Scarlet spies the vampire, Simon, attempting to enter the opera house. He sniffs the air and quickly steps back out. He calls someone and a half hour later Bratva thugs have the place surrounded. They wait and watch.

Eventually the opera reaches its climax. After failing to obtain the required sacrifices, the villain of the piece is struck by lightning…which lights a third of the stage on fire. Luckily no one is injured but the audience quickly make their way to the exits. Scarlet helps guide the team through a tight passage where they peel off the giant bodyguard Kaminski.

As they near the exit, John turns, grabs the nerdish Popov and hurls him into Shevlenko’s nurse. Feinberg leads Arkady outside with John right behind them. Guy pulls up in front just as Popov comes sprinting out of the theater. On the street four stocky men race towards them.

John leans out with a machine gun and lays down suppressive fire on the goons. They scatter or fall behind as Guy drives off. A solid thump however announces that Popov managed to jumps on board.

As he shoots through the tight streets of Vienna, Guy glances at his mirrors. Two cheap cars race after him plus something on foot far faster than than any mortal. Ahead the road swings past the river and a flock of geese. He swerves into them, sending a swarm of feathery bodies upward to distract his pursuers.

As bullets ping off the back of the van, Nasir and John unload their guns into the side door. Their work is rewarded with the sound of Popov falling off onto the hard cobblestone steps. Then both tires are punctured by automatic fire.

Guy tightens his grip on the wheel and drifts the van into a controlled collision with some metal posts. Glancing back he checks that everyone is unharmed. Arkady breathes heavily as the Bratva forces pull up behind them. Then something lands on the roof.

With a squeal of tearing metal, the side door goes flying away from the vehicle. Simon dives down and pounces into the van.

His face contorts with pain and anger as thin smoke wafts from his orifices and skin. In a blur, he reaches out, grabs Feinberg and hurls her thirty feet onto a muddy patch of ground. He slams John into the roof of the van before tossing him outside as well. Arkady slinks back into his seat as the monster moves forward.

John manages to grab the van on his way out and lands just outside. Spotting a half dozen thugs approaching he liberally sprays the area with bullets. As they retreat to the safety of their vehicles, Nasir and Guy sneak over to a nearby jeep and hotwire it.

As Simon reaches for the old man, Feinberg shouts “stop!” as she presses her gun against the back of the head. The vampire grabs Arkady’s sleeve.

She fires, spraying the black innards of the vampire across the interior of the van. They sizzle in squirm in the mist.

He twists around, a violent exit wound streaming dark goo down his face. He roars at her, a gory tentacle shooting from his mouth. She ducks, the black mass passing through where her head was a split second ago. As she recovers the tentacle loops down around her neck and lifts her from the ground, choking her.

John turns and targets one of their prepared canisters of compressed gas mixed with antibiotics. A blast of medical mist shoots out, scorching the tendril. Simon hisses but holds on.

Then the car hits him.

The jeep rolls over the vampire and knocks Feinberg free. Holding in her ribs she crawls to the vehicle as Arkady slips out of the van and into the jeep. Nasir drops some smoke grenades covering the extraction. The thugs fire wildly in their direction as John gets on board. In the thick mist the bullets somehow miss everyone.

Suddenly shots ring out from behind the thugs as a bloody and disheveled Popov stalks up the road. As Guy throws the jeep into the gear, the surviving Bratva goons unload into the bodyguard. The agents don’t stop to save him.

Guy smashes through a fence hoping to dislodge anyone hanging on. But a few minutes later, the sound of tearing metal alerts them to trouble. Nasir unloads one of the mist canisters into the jeep. A single bloody hand claws out of the floor and grabs Nasir before a second blast sends it and Simon tumbling onto the streets.

Looking back they see the battered vampire picks himself off street. He looks in their direction and then walks off.

Wincing as she props herself up, Feinberg makes the call to the embassy. Guy pulls the jeep discretely through the Vienna streets. Nasir and John breath a little easier.

Arkady gasps and clutches his chest. As the team moves to help him, he waves them off. “No I must tell you what you need to know. What They are after.”

Slowly he wheezes out the details of the plot concocted by Harry Philby, father of his friendKim Philby. Using a binary agent Philby infected the Saudi royal family with a vampiric plague, one that would place them under his control. Something went wrong. Harry died. The first half of plague was buried with him. His son kept the activating agent in a vault at the Koernersbank in Beirut and tried to sell the plot to the Russians. Now the conspiracy wants to use it take over Saudi Arabia and its vast oil holdings. He chokes out some coordinates to a secret cache, something that may help them. Then he blacks out.

Scarlet breaks in over the comms and starts ordering John through the steps to save Shevlenko’s life. Fifteen minutes later, the team drops Feinberg and the weak but breathing defector off at the embassy before vanishing into the morning fog.

A day later they assemble at the coordinates Arkady gave them. A small group of Sassafras trees sit there. Amid their roots, they find a metal box with documents detailing Arkady’s Middle East work. Clues point to the Iraqi National Museum as well as a possible asset in Beirut.

Robin listens to the operation details and then asks the difficult question. “Nasir where did the item Shevlenko said was in the vault go? The vial filled with the activating agent?”

The Pakistani spy pauses for a moment before explaining that he has hidden it. Under pressure he says he’ll give a sample to Scarlet for analysis. Somewhat mollified, the team makes arrangements to return to Germany.

On the way, Scarlet takes a look at the sample. It seems to be a culture medium tweaked for some variety of bacteria. She tests it against samples of the black goo they obtained in Serbia. While those bacteria grow well, it is clearly not a match.

Once in Germany, they check surveillance on the castle. Everything seems the same. John contacts Colonel Drake to see what developments have occurred with Dr. Gomez. Drake says that the body they sent opened up some new insights. He invites them over to the base where he has hidden medical lab set up for her and Quist’s corpse.

Robin and Nasir opt to sit this one out, leaving John and Scarlet to conduct the meeting. The Colonel leads them into a darkened warehouse, where a single lamp illuminates a makeshift lab. A body lies beneath a white sheet. Confused about where Gomez is, Drake invites them to look at the lab while he hunts her down.

Scarlet approaches the table, a growing dread building within her. The body is female. Pulling back the sheet, she finds a very dead Dr. Gomez. Growls comes from the darkness around them as Drake’s voice echoes over the intercom.

“Sorry. You know how it is,” he explains. “I have kids.”

“No I don’t!” John shouts as the growls grow closer and yellow eyes glint in the dark.

Scarlet digs in her bag, pulling out a grapple gun. As she shoots it near a high window, John moves to intercept the werewolves.

They blur out of the darkness but he weaves between them as Scarlet slowly rises upward. He stays below her warding them away as they circle him. One claws his arm while the other pounces on his leg as he is distracted. He kicks it off and grabs Scarlet. Pulling himself to safety, he begins to swing the line. Below the monsters jump and snap at them. Then the two spies smash through the high window to safety.

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