String Theory

The Escape

Guy pulls into the small alpine village as the sun begins to hit the snowy mountain tops. Lawson sits up stiffly while Scarlet examines the bandages. The inside of the van smells of blood and old money. In the back lies “Smith”, the deceased werewolf, now wrapped in several layers of sheets. A quick look at his phone tells the agents he was really Quist, another of the CIA’s agents.

Nasir helps the team with their disguises and they head into town to buy some skis and hiking gear for the next leg of their exit from Switzerland. Italy and possible safety lies only a few miles away.

The ski shop is open early, full of just what they need to get across the snowy forests and slopes. As they finish picking out gear, the TV above the counter reports on the recent theft and the incident at the hotel. A series of grainy security footage, faked by Scarlet, fills the screen. Then it flips to several much more accurate sketches. A sleepy police officer in the men’s clothing section scrutinizes the team. Guy heads for the counter and distracts the pretty young clerk with some compliments on their selection while Scarlet and Robin conspicuously sneak into the back. As the officer heads to investigate, John materializes behind him and knocks him out with a single deft strike.

The three drag him into the back room and take his radio. They regroup with the others outside the store and head for the wilderness. Guy builds a makeshift sled for the corpse and they head for the border.

As they push through the snowy forest, the radio crackles to life. The police found Officer Hall and based on their purchases have an idea where they are headed. The agents and thieves pick up the pace. Sliding down a steep slope, they come to a partially frozen river. They cross quickly hoping to disguise their trail along the way.

Using the radio they monitor the police’s slow progress. Guy sets up a false trail in the woods as well as some snares and then leads the team to an Italian village across the border where he has another truck handy.

Guy drives them to a smuggler friend of his. There they make a arrangements to deliver the corpse to Germany and Doctor Gomez. After splitting the loot roughly with Menena and Lawson, they thank them. Keith let’s Robin know he owes her one for pulling him out of that ambush. After Menena leaves, Nasir slips the vial she stole from him at the bank back into his pocket.

Next the team decides to lay low. Scanning news reports on bird die offs, the team evades any zombie crow surveillance as they slip into Croatia. There they spend a week on the beach while the news outlets move on to the next story.

The agents also put out feelers through the black market for someone that can liquidate their stolen goods. They get the name of Hans Schmidt. The quiet man offers them 10% to take it off their hands. They decide to wait on the money until they need it.

John checks his voicemail and receives a disturbing message. His apartment in D.C. is being fumigated due to an infestation of rats infected with the plague. He realizes with dread that the conspiracy knows who he is.

Their vacation complete, the team heads to Germany for a surveillance operation on the CIA site. Watching the the ruined castle, they count over a dozen men, mostly green agents, at the base. A small medical staff supports Dr. Gerhardt. A supply truck visits a couple times a week. They manage to grab a list of goods being delivered. Based on that they suspect a dozen large “animals” (or more likely surgically modified soldiers) are held there.

The upper level appears to be prefab structures with narrow halls and electronic locks. The subterranean levels remain a mystery but seem substantial. They identify three entrances: the front door, an electronically locked grill just outside the walls, and, based on historical maps, a secret tunnel that exits into some woods two miles away.

They spot Gerhardt smoking outside several times a day. Guy suggests delivering a poisoned supply of his favorite brand.

As they consider that possibility they review the contents of Philby’s box. They suspect the Kipling’s novel might be a book cipher but without more information it is worthless. The letters suggest Kim Philby was looking for something in Iraq. An analysis of the photos suggests Philby and his son were tracking spies. All of them are now dead except for one: Arkady Shevlenko. That name matches some of the chatter they intercepted from the Black Sea Bank’s “security”. They decide to look deeper into him.

Robin complains none of this material worth the effort the Conspiracy put into obtaining the box. Nasir deflects that criticism and pushes the team to investigate Shevlenko.

Digging deeper into his background suggests that if anyone alive knows what the Philby’s were up to it would be him. The suspicious death of his son, signs in the Lennart’s files that Shevlenko might be leaking intelligence to the CIA, and the possible poisoning that led to his heart condition lend weight that there is more to learn here. Plus he is in Vienna right now for a trade conference.

The agents head for Vienna. Guy watches his staff and picks out his security detail: the secretary, the pretty nurse, the overworked assistant, and the obvious bodyguard. Robin recognizes the secretary, Volkov, from an earlier career. She knows Volkov appreciates professionalism. Guy also snaps a picture of an amulet that Shevlenko always wears. Scarlet identifies it as of Levantian craftsmanship and that it is several centuries old.

Nasir meanwhile pulls strings through his mining executive cover to get an invite to the conference. He snags Shevlenko’s schedule in the process, planning to intercept him at the reception at Hotel Europa. Before the reception he takes in the old spy’s talk, picking up clues in the talk that Shevlenko knows about vampires as well. He also notices that Shevlenko’s handlers don’t know Arabic, unlike the old man.

At the hotel, John poses as Nasir’s bodyguard while Robin works as arm candy. Outside Scarlet mans the communications with Guy waiting as an escape driver.

Nasir manages to engage Shevlenko in a conversation, plying him with drinks. The old man seems barely interested but perks up when Nasir enquires about the amulet and hints about vampires. They arrange a meeting and then Shevlenko leaves to get some air.

As the party spills into the gardens, Robin spots a Dracula wanna-be in the crowd. She snaps a picture and Scarlet identifies him as Sergei Rachov, a member of the Lisky Bratva. But she sees something else in the photo, a sickly youth who she suspects is a vampire.

Robin decides to check and also test one of the weapons they’ve devised on him. Slipping next to a waiter, she slips a syringe of antibiotics from under her dress and doses the champagne glasses. Then with a little flirting she sends the servant in the direction of the supposed monster. He takes a drink but as he sips, he begins to retch, hurling the glass away. He lurches off to the barn at the far side of the gardens, hacking all the way.

The team trails Shevlenko. As the old man sends one of his handlers back to the hotel, a strange static intrudes on their communications. Scarlet notices cell signals being distorted as well. It has CIA fingerprints on it. Shevlenko looking tired and weak sits down. Another handler hurries to get some paramedics, leaving the nurse and bodyguard. As the old man clutches his chest, four suspicious seeming paramedics quickly arrive. Outside, Guy notices the first handler occupied by the valet. Just as John and Robin realize this is a CIA extraction team, the vampire strikes. In seconds the four agents are reduced to bloody messes as Shevlenko looks on in horror. The nurse shields the bodyguard from intervening.

The monster grabs the bodies while the agents make themselves scarce. Loading them into the “ambulance”, he rides off into the night.

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