String Theory

Way Too Much Heat

Scarlet picks up the soaking wet Nasir and John from behind the hotel they dived into. Two hours later and well outside the city, Guy catches up to them on a dirt bike. Taking over from John he drives through the night along the desert roads, heading ever south. In the back Scarlett does her best to patch up the others. John remains a bit sore from where the bullet hit Kevlar but otherwise the team is healthy.

In the late hours of the night they reach a weak point at the border with Yemen. A platoon of green recruits question all travelers coming and going. Nasir takes the wheel and with the others donning burqas, manages to bluff their way across.

The team pushes on for another couple hours before arriving in a small dusty town. They secure a room to rest in with some handy American dollars and catch their breath. Scarlet sets up some security cameras in the car to remote feed to their rooms. She stretches her legs and then settles in to watch.

An hour later she spies a squad of soldiers moving to surround the building. Worse in the shadows of the building across the street, two werewolves lurk. She directs the others to pack up and recalling the command words from the files of Project Werewolf, hatches a plan.

John bursts out of the hotel before the soldiers can react. The agents race across the street and as the soldiers turn to attack, Scarlet shouts out “kill them” in German, gesturing to their attackers. The werewolves lope over and devour two of them in seconds.

As the remaining soldiers try to calm the beasts down, the team race through an alley toward their car. A figure leaps over the gap between buildings above them, firing once. The shot strikes inches from John’s head.

As they round the building to get to their car, a blond haired man jumps down from the roof. Scarlet recognizes the final surviving operative of Project Werewolf, Kessler. Without blinking, he fires at Guy, grazing his left knee. Without pausing, John picks the driver up and carries him to the car.

Guy puts his other foot to the metal as the team piles in and races out of town. Kessler jogs after them on foot for a solid minute before abandoning pursuit.

They head for the coast.

Hours later, Guy guides their freshly bought (if overly expensive) boat across the Red Sea. He steers towards the Zubair Archipelago.The rocky volcanic islands soon come into view.

The agents go ashore briefly, locating a couple vents. Into one they toss the Albedo. It melts and burns. The second one swallows the Nigredo. As the glass liquefies the dark liquid churs and seems to scream. Scarlet feels very cold and exposed out here. She urges the others back onto the boat.

Finally they beach their craft on a barren line of sand in Eritrea. Digging through their supplies they lay a trap for their pursuers. While Guy and Nasir build a crude shelter, Scarlet sets up a remote controlled sniper rifle atop a nearby dune. Elsewhere John plants mines keyed to a remote trigger.

Then they wait.

Kessler races across the sands under the cover of night. Scarlet tracks his progress on her camera and that of that of the werewolves and two soldiers trailing him. She lines up a shot on his head with her joystick and thumbs the fire button.

The blow sends him reeling. As he dives for cover the beach erupts in flames enveloping the two werewolves behind him as well. John grins at his handy work.

Guy and Nasir spring from cover to lob grenades at the survivors. The beasts and soldiers are ripped apart.

The team searches the charred corpses before finishing the job. Scarlet tosses a wrecked satellite phone into a backpack as the last of the remains burn to crisp.

Late the next day they sail up the Red Sea, putting in at an Egyptian town. There they claim to be a tour group. The authorities check their passports and welcome them back from their cruise. They grab a bus and ride north to the Mediterranean.

As they lunch in Alexandria, waiting for the ship to Italy, the team notice a pair of creepy men approaching them. Pale and thin they seem to move from the street to their table without crossing the intervening distance. Then Scarlet recognizes these corpse men. They are the same as the figure she encountered in Baghdad.

The pair raise their hands in a sign of peace. They claim to have a message from Dr. Dorjiev. The doctor congratulates them for their success and invites them to Dragovir Monastery should they believe they can destroy the leadership of the Conspiracy. Their message delivered the two depart as suddenly as they came.

The sea voyage begins well but soon John takes ill. The vampiric plague in his system activates causing an intense fever and horrifying dreams. Scarlet determines he isn’t in danger of becoming a monster, just dying or going insane. She nurses him back to health over the course of the two day journey. By the time they reach Italy, he has fully recovered.

They quickly make their way to Rome. Scouting out Pamela Stacy’s apartment building the agents quietly surveil her and the men watching her. They uncover four Eastern European men, one sporting Bratva tattoos, keeping an eye on her in shifts. Disturbingly though they identify the “homeless” man camped in front of her apartment as a scarred and broken Serge Milic.

Faced with another vampire, the team sources some gear to deal with it and its minions: silenced pistols, antibiotic filled tranq guns, and some aerosol deployed antibiotics.

Then they put their plan into action. John slips into the decaying hotel where the men live, killing two in their sleep. Then Nasir lures the others into an alley on their way home. John and Guy, disguised as rival criminals, shoot each in the back of the head before tossing them in a dumpster.

Then Scarlet calls up her old college friend Rosa. Now with the CIA, Rosa is interested to hear Scarlet’s side of the story about Riyadh. Scarlet promises to discuss it once they reach Florence. She asks her to ready the local safe house. She need to stow their mutual friend there for a few days. Rosa agrees to help her out.

Then they wait until evening. John takes up overwatch position, training a tranquilizer rifle on Serge from a nearby building top. Nasir and Scarlett sneak in the back way while Guy waits in the car.

Once up to the apartment, Scarlett quickly explains to Pamela that they are here to get her out of here. Her watchers are dangerous, Scarlet says, promising to explain more on the way. The airline analyst reluctantly agrees. The three of them, now burdened by Pamela’s well packed carryon, hustle out of the apartment building and into Guy’s car.

Once they pick up John, they race north to Florence. Along the way Scarlett tells her friend everything: vampires, werewolves, and her clandestine fight against them. Somehow Pamela keeps her composure and her faith in her friend.

Once at the Florence safehouse, Rosa takes Scarlet aside. She’s heard from her contacts in the CIA that Scarlett and her companions were involved in the attack on Riyadh. The evidence supporting this seems rather tenuous to her however. Rosa asks if Scarlet wants her to dig into this and find the real source of the intel. Scarlet tells her not to put her neck out but if she uncovers anything she’d be interested to hear it. In any case she needs Rosa to keep an eye on Pamela until the agents deal with the people after her.

With their issues in Italy dealt with, the team prepares to visit France before heading to Vancouver. They plan to investigate Panacea Pharmaceuticals. They know the company is involved in genetic and disease research, supposedly in a quest to cure death. One of their R&D facilities looks suspiciously protected.

But first they need to talk to Dr. Gerhard. Hank calls Scarlett to let her know that the doctor has developed some sort of revolutionary weapon against the Conspiracy. They arrange to meet in Paris.

They find Hank and Gerhard safe and healthy. The doctor excitedly relays his findings. He’s found an antibiotic compound that reacts energetically with the proteins within the bacterium’s cell walls, resulting in a violent release of energy. Simply put, it causes them to explode. He can’t be sure of the exact size of the explosion but it should exceed the power of most modern grenades.

As John struggles to follow the doctor’s jargon laden speech, the others notice men gathering outside and the squeaking of rodents pushing through the walls. They are under attack!


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