String Theory

Storming the Castle

As Scarlet patches up John’s bites, the team hashes out a plan. The safest route into Project Werewolf’s facility is the secret passage under the castle. If they are lucky no one has been in there in centuries. If not it is still likely to be poorly guarded. Once they sneak in, they’ll plant explosives, copy the contents of the internal servers, and then demolish the structure. They can mop up the survivors afterwards.

Scarlet compiles reports on bird die offs and then charts a course to a CIA cache site that Guy is fairly sure is intact. Luckily this time he is right. Armed with explosives, weapons, armor and night vision goggles, the team waits until dark and then heads into the woods a few miles from the castle to destroy Project Werewolf for good.

In the thick undergrowth, John picks out the moss encrusted stone door hiding the tunnel. As they lift the slab a red light blinks within. Thinking quickly Scarlet rewires the motion detector to read as an equipment malfunction. With no time to spare, the agents hurry down the corridor.

John leads the way through two miles of earthen tunnel and quietly past two more motion sensors before reaching a steel trap door. Disabling the electronic lock, John slowly lifts the hatch to find himself into a darkened surgery room.

A faint line of light emanates from a doorway while another door on a different wall is visible under the enhancement of his night vision goggles. Cat-like they creep into the room. Glancing between their choices, the team move as one to the darker exit.

The door opens easily, revealing a room lit by a few LED lights and filled with the quiet beeping and wheezing of the medical equipment. Two patients lie comatose in the large room. A single door leads out of room in the same direction and perhaps into the same hallway as the door in the surgery room. Scarlet moves to the nearest patient, a woman missing much of her lower limbs. She focuses a flashlight on her chart.

The placard reveals she is Sergeant Karen Byrne, a soldier in the U.S. Army. The chart describes the extensive damage she suffered from an encounter with an IED. Karen’s only been here two days.

John asks if they can save her. Scarlet explains that her vitals are low but possibly. Then she moves to the other patient.

Much more extensive life support surrounds the man with multiple bags of saline and something else dripping into his system. His chart identifies him as Johnny Dixon, codenamed Quist, and describes his resuscitation after being poisoned and shot to death last month. This was the man they killed in Zurich. The corpse they sent to Gomez. No one has a problem leaving him behind.

Suddenly they hear the sound of someone tapping in a code for the door into this room. Scarlet ducks out of sight as John and Guy flank the door. A middle aged man in a labcoat enters. He glances at Quist then almost before he can react John drops a garotte around his neck.

The man scrambles for something on his belt while his other hand struggles with the piano wire. John slams him into a wall, stunning him long enough for Guy to lift the small electronic device. The doctor manages to get his hand under the wire. He begs for his life, promising information about the installation and his work.

They pull him inside and close the door. Under the glare of a flashlight, they realize they’ve captured Dr. Gerhardt, Project Werewolf’s lead medical scientist. They secure and interrogate him, obtaining a rough layout of the lower levels, the location and code to the server room, the position of the werewolf pens, and who else is on base. John gags him and puts him and Karen in the surgery room, planting a remote detonation bomb on the doctor should he run.

Outside they hear the sound of people patrolling. After the footfalls recede, John and Scarlet look out the exit into the long white hall that stretches through the castle dungeons. A single camera watches the hall between them and the server room. John directs the hacker to follow her as he slips over to the door and keys in the code.

Once inside, Scarlet connects to the server, overpowers the security and copies the internal files. From personnel listings she find that the project is run by a Director Andrew Peirce in Washington. She also confirms that the werewolf agent Talbot is on sight, sitting in his room upstairs. Two agents are missing, presumably investigating the faulty motion sensor. She also comes across records suggesting Kessler is out hunting for them with a few men and werewolves. She loops the security cameras and prepares to lead the team in placing the charges.

John and Guy get to work while Scarlet directs them around the patrols. As they work on the last charge, her attention is drawn to the camera in Talbot’s room. The blank faced man sniffs at the air. Scarlet quickly types some commands, locking his door. The operative tugs at the handle then snarls into his comm, “We have intruders.”

Then he knocks the door off its hinges.

Scarlet shouts at the others to go as she closes her laptop and runs to the tunnel. John and Guy are only moments behind her as they hear crashing up above as the werewolf barrels through security doors.

John hoists Karen on his shoulders while the others push Dr. Gerhardt down through the tunnel. Talbot crashes down into the dungeons, quickly tracking their scent to the operating room.

Then as they clear the extent of the castle walls, John detonates the explosives.

Rocks crash down on them as the tunnel fills with dust. One large stone knocks Dr. Gerhardt to the ground. Scarlet pushes off the debris and rubs her raw shoulder before checking him. His pulse is steady. John places Karen on the ground. Dust coats her blank eyes.

Guy shouts and points into the darkness. There, emerging from the wreckage, is Talbot.

The werewolf operative lurches forward, bloodied but unbroken. Scarlet and Guy raise their dart guns and fire. Then a louder thump fills the tunnel as John unloads his grenade launcher into him. The tunnel shakes as Talbot is messily removed from this world.

The agents retreat a safe distance down the tunnel where Scarlet patches up the team. Carrying Gerhardt, they head for the exit.

As they approach the exit, Scarlet works out where the final guards might make their ambush. John tossed up a smoke bomb and then throws a grenade in what he considers a likely direction. As the explosion shakes the wooded terrain, the agents crawl out of the tunnel under the cover of smoke and a rain of blood.

As automatic fire sprays from the trees, the team moves and fires back. After a fierce firefight, the gunfire stops. The smoke clears revealing the final agent face down in the mud.

A few hours later, Guy drives them over the border into France. Scarlet provides him an address to an old friend from her days at Overwatch.

A few days at Hank’s safe house and the agents feel hail and healthy again. Dr. Gerhardt eagerly tells them all he knows about “Them”, the plague bearing vampires that run the conspiracy. They use human and animal corpses as vehicles. The real monsters are the black goo within, a colonial slime mold of plague bacteria. He has worked under them since his time in the Soviet biowarfare program.

He tells them that the only person who never showed any fear around them was a man called Dr. Dorjiev. The short nearsighted man had worked in the program since the 60s, focused mostly on psychic research. Unfortunately Gerhardt has no idea where he is.

Even worse, the morning news includes reports of the tragic death of Director Peirce in a traffic accident. The conspiracy is cleaning up loose ends. They will undoubtedly be after Gerhardt as well.

The agents consider this new information and decide to put Gerhardt to work developing an improved antibiotic weapon against the plague bearers. They leave Robin behind to mind him and head out to collect Nasir on their way to Baghdad. Whatever the conspiracy is after there can’t be good.

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