String Theory

Out of the House of Ashes

As the ambulance pulls away from the hotel grounds, Scarlet tags it with a tracker. She and Guy then follow from a discreet distance while the rest of the team joins the other guests inside while security figures out what just happened.

The tracker shows the van racing along the Danube before finally leaving the road and diving into the river. Guy pulls up to the twisted railing with the police sirens still many minutes away. Scarlet dives in to see what can be salvaged. among the debris and remains, she pulls out a keycard for Hotel Centrale.

She relays this to the others who realize an operation like this would normally include a fifth member, a cleaner to remove all evidence after the rest of the team was done. That person might have more information for them.

However with most of the team still trapped at the party, Scarlet and Guy go off on their own to scout the Hotel Centrale. A card reader tells them to look at room 204. Surveillance turns up no signs of life or movement inside the hotel room. Scarlet does spot a wastepaper basket on the balcony still smoldering with destroyed papers.

Feeling safe from enemy action, Scarlet tries the room. Inside she smells fresh antiseptic. The room has been thoroughly if quickly cleaned. A phone book has been left out and a page marked inside shows a list of financial firms. Scarlet recognizes one as CIA front: CJH Investments. Guy comments that he’s even met Selig, the contact there. They make plans to visit first thing in the morning.

After regrouping at their hotel, the team reviews their plans for the next day. In addition to CJH Investments, Nasir has a meeting with Arkady Shevlenko. Then Robin discovers Anton has reached out them. The scumbag wants to trade information on the Conspiracy for protection. They sit on that intelligence for now.

That morning they enter CJH Investments shortly after it opens. Spotting a nervous woman in the lobby, they guess she’s the one that they want. Nasir and John convince her that they want to help and can be trusted. She reveals she is a CIA agent named Lynne Feinberg, that her operation was blown and that she’ll talk more after her meeting. But the team gets their meeting first. Selig after ascertaining that John is part of the DOD, reveals that Lynne’s operation was not sanctioned. she’s been burned by Langley.

With that revelation, Lynne puts her hopes and trust with the team. without Shevlenko she has no chance of being reinstated and without help she might not last the night. She tells them that their leader Charlie Green had originally looked at grabbing Shevlenko at the opera on the last night of the conference. They have a safe house outside of the city from which they planned to escape the country. Lynne’s job was to get his granddaughter Anna to America. She has plane tickets and passport. The girl is supposed to arrive that afternoon.

The agents agree to help and split into two teams. Robin and Nasir will deal with Shevlenko. the others will join Lynne in intercepting Anna at the airport.

As they leave the building the team notice several local toughs tailing them. They duck into a shop and Nasir quickly disguises them. As they slip away, the master of disguise bumps into the leader of this gang and lifts his phone.

A quick scan reveals that they were sent by the Lisky Bratva. Someone named Werner has been complaining about “Simon is hungry” and the need for a fresh shipment from Odessa. In the chat, he wishes Uncle Joe or even creepy Dorjiev was here to handle Simon. also on the phone they find a landline for an apartment block in the redlight district. Robin scouts it out before the meeting. The brothel is a fortress and capable of keeping all sorts of things in the bricked up basement.

Nasir and Robin meet with Shevlenko at 2 PM. Recalling their earlier meeting, Nasir conducts most of the conversation in Arabic under the guise of needing to use more technical terms. Shevlenko somewhat more at ease hints that there might be eavesdropping, referencing a lamp. Robin picks up the cues and turns on a jamming device.

Once able to speak freely, Shevlenko instantly warms to the idea of a second escape attempt provided his granddaughter is protected. Nasir says they’ve got it covered. Shevlenko explains he knows the Conspiracy’s plans, plans told to him by Kim Philby before his death. Kim also gave him an amulet that thus far has kept them at bay. Its power is fading however and he fears the monsters plan to get his secrets by force. Nasir outlines their plan to extract him at the opera and then tries to slip him a burner phone. As it tumbles to the floor, he covers up the slip up and in the process of picking it up, slips it into the old man’s pocket. With Shevlenko’s promise of intelligence once rescued, they move to the next step of their plans.

At airport, the team notices several thugs lurking by the baggage claim. They also note Shevlenko’s assistant, Zhenya Mihaylov, making his way to Anna’s gate. After some quick discussion, they decide to ambush her in the baggage area. Scarlett hacks the airport computers and flags the thugs as suspicious individuals. As airport security herd them away, Anna arrives with Zhenya. Lynne and Scarlett intercept them and convince Anna that they are really here to help her. Lynne presses the tickets and passport into her hand as Zhenya begins to raise a fuss.

Meanwhile security begins to move in on John, recognizing him from reports in Zurich. He quickly collects the others. Before disappearing into a crowd of German tourists, Scarlet presses a burner phone into anna’s hand and pushes her back to security. With Anna safe they escape the airport.

That night they decide to set up a meet with Anton. While Guy and Scarlett work on an aerosol dispersal system for antibiotics, Robin rigs a local cafe with cameras and bugs. Then she messages Anton, giving him the meet site. He gives a counter offer but she replies, “Nice knowing you.” Hurriedly he agrees to the location but she gives no sign back.

The next day Robin waits in the back of a store a few blocks away, ready to pursue on foot. She watches the electronic feeds from there. John and Guy wait in a car a block in the other direction. Scarlet works remotely from their crummy hotel. Nasir meanwhile continues to attend the conference.

As Anton arrives, they easily spot the thugs, as well as the Russian prison tattoos hidden beneath coats and long sleeves. They shadow Anton closely who looks sickly and dying. Scarlet notes the marks on his wrists and the makeup covering bruises on his face. Anton waits an hour, growing more and more anxious with each minute. When a pair of men come to collect him, his shoulders slump as he accepts his fate. They escort him to a car.

As Guy moves after him, a shot rings out. The sniper round cracks the windshield and hits John next to his heart. Only the kevlar keeps the damage to cracked ribs. Guy goes evasive and tears out of there as another shot shatters the back window.

Robin meanwhile flags a cab and trails Anton, at least until it’s obvious that he is headed for the red light district and the Bratva’s brothel/fortress.

That night Nasir’s cover is burnt when the police discover a kilo of heroin in his hotel room.

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