Episode 26: Persistence Pays Off


The Team starts their search for Ernest Krieger, elusive Euro banking heir, and his girlfriend who have been sighted on the island of Grenada. Our group has its morning meeting and finds that “other people” are listening. They put a tracker on Friedrick Van Schoonhoven’s car. Zahra goes “undercover”, but lands in a mess. Randy and his trusty M-21 EBR gets her out. The picture they have leads them to the island of Tobago where they have a “friendly” conversation with one of Ernest’s old school chums. From him they get five phone numbers and a trail that leads them to Trinidad.


Otto Krieger, president and CEO of the Vienna Credit Bank, is dying of degenerative brain cancer. His grandson and heir, a young man with a history of mental illness, has run off with his teenage girlfriend, the daughter of two imprisoned Europe 3000 terrorists, and plans to turn the venerable institution into a progressive and socially responsible institution whose primary concern will be to help the “people.” The Team has six weeks to find the heir and return him to his grandfather (and the institution that was treating him). The fee is enormous and the perks are luxurious.

Dramatis Personae

The Client du Jour:

Otto Krieger: He is the 82 yo President and CEO of the Vienna Credit Bank, a major Euro investment banking house. He sits on the EuroBank board of directors. The man is dying of degenerative brain cancer. His grandson and heir, Ernest Krieger, has run away with his teenaged girlfriend and is off his meds. The old man wants him back.

The Team

Allison Cole: 16 yo kleptomaniac sex pot and one of Cat Fisher’s best friends from Atlantic City High School. She just graduated from that school and followed her friend to Jamaica when she became a suspect in a recent heist in Atlantic City. Perhaps not yet “world class”, her skills as a Prowler are formidable.

Cat Fisher: Officially she is Sam Fisher and the late Maria Ortiz’s 18 yo daughter. In actuality she is a full memory clone of late Caitlin Jones, the original biogentic assassin construct built by the now defunct BioWorks Corporation. This is known only to Kyle Vaduva. Some on the Team know she used to be Dominique Vadim, a Caitlin clone, but that person is also “known to be dead” for some six years now.

Doc Freeman: Former professor at UNLV, former assistant coroner and (formally) disgraced cyber researcher. He is the inventor of the “cyberbrain” with which he claims to have cured death itself. Although courts around the world are now looking into ramifications of his work, Disney Corporation has honored their agreements with the man and he is now rich beyond his wildest dreams. The Team bases out of his Morgan’s Harbor Hotel which he operates in cooperation with the Disney Corporation’s Port Royal Historical Theme Park and Museum.

Kyle Vaduva: Former C.I.A. agent now burned by the agency over incidents that he did not commit. He is now reunited with his lover from the Romanian Operation, who he now learns is the full memory clone of the late infamous bio-genetic assassin, Caitlin Jones.

Natasha Kerensky: She is a thirty year old ex-Spetznaz soldier who realized her gender and lack of important military contacts made her rising above her current rank (lieutenant) an unlikely possibility. She has now gone into the private sector.

Nip Lacey: 15 yo girl with neon green hair, has amnesia. She was adopted by Tyne Lacey 4 years ago. She is a NET savant, classmate of Allison Cole’s, and the other of Cat Fisher’s best friends from high school.

Fred: ferret and imaginary friend of Nip’s.

Randy Shugart III: He is the 28 yo grandson of CMH winner, Randall Shugart of Blackhawk Down fame. He is himself an eight year veteran of Delta Force and has recently been maneuvered out of the military.

Roger Blackmore: Is a 28 yo former British SAS commando and demolitions expert. He was forced out of the service under a cloud of accusations of weapon’s smuggling.

William Eller: This is a cover alias for Thomas Rifkin, an operative for the Consortium, a group of powerful and wealth business and political leaders who cooperate to “make things go their way”. Thomas, Max, William is a 10% owner of the Morgan’s Harbor Hotel.

Zahra Baudin: She is a 29 yo veteran of the JDF (Jamaican Defense Forces). Born of a Jamaican mother and a Haitian father, she is a trained “intrusion” expert.

The NPCs

Captain Istvan Vadas: Captain of the super yacht, SS Admiral Miklos Horthy. He is also a reserve officer in the Hungarian Navy. He likes young women; very young women.

“Captain” Mitch: He is an aging deep sea fishing captain operating in Grenada, who runs a small “people smuggling” business on the side. He and his wife, Rochelle, have lived on the island for years and are considered “locals”. Unknown to the party he is also a “retired” C.I.A. agent. He is well aware of Kyle’s “burn notice”.

Daniela Gaspard: The 16 yo girlfriend of Ernest Krieger and daughter of two imprisoned Europe 3000 terrorists. She has run off with the young heir.

Diego Salazar: A fixer operating in Grenada. The man is known to be able to “arrange” transportation of the island, identification issues and “safe” houses. He can often be found at the Music Room, a bar in Grenada.

Ernest Krieger: The 17 yo grandson of Otto Krieger and target of the Team’s search. He has a history of mental problems and is off his meds. The young man has run away with his girlfriend, Daniela Gaspard.

Friedrick Van Schoonhoven: A 21yo European Goldenchild, who knows Ernest Krieger.

Magda Berchtold: The 38 yo third wife of aging patriarch, Otto Krieger and sister of Count Johan Berchtold, the Hungarian Foreign Minister and one of that country’s wealthiest men.

Otto Krieger: Our client is the 82 yo President and CEO of the Vienna Credit Bank, a major Euro investment banking house.

“Uncle Billy” (William) Titcombe: A very well-known Caribbean fixer based out of Trinidad. He is also a retired station chief and deputy director for the C.I.A. He has his finger on the pulse of the area. Behind that “grandfatherly” appearance is a tough, dangerous character honed by over eighty years of life experience on this planet.

The Action

Sunday, 13 November 2044: (15 Days behind their Quarry)

At 6 am Cat has her morning meeting. Just before they begin, she has Kyle and Zahra run a bug sweep of the meeting room and yes, the room is bugged. They talk to the house staff, who seems genuinely shocked. The butler immediately calls their security service and asks the Team to sweep the whole house (before and after their “professional” sweep). The group finds the front hall, meeting room, outside by the front door, the parking spaces and AV pad under surveillance. The normal professionals find another camera at the mansion’s front gate recording (and transmitting) pictures of all who enter or leave, when they conduct their own sweep. A cursory examination of the devices reveals that they are custom made.

Finally, with more security in place, the Team has their meeting. First, Nip checks if any more villas are available at the Maca Bana. No, all are rented. It is decided that William and Allison will go to Zanzibar’s at 1pm when it opens. They will sit at the private booth that Friedrick Van Schoonhoven sat at and see what happens. Later, the two will have a “tiff” and William will leave. This will make Allison “available” for Friedrick. Kyle will sneak onto the Maca Bana grounds and plant a tracker on Friedrick’s car. Roger and Natasha will be close by in another car to follow him with the tracer. Kyle will then return to the mansion and study the captured listening devices to learn what he can about them. Zahra will head out to the Lime again and pretend she is moving to the area to learn what she can about the neighborhood and the apartment that was the last known “home” of the target. Randy is sent to a spot on a hill overlooking the Lime and will cover Zahra should she get into trouble. Nip will do NET research on Ernest Krieger’s parents. Cat will compare the photo they have to pictures of recent events at the Maurice Bishop Convention and Sports Complex to narrow down the date that the picture was taken. Doc Freeman will start translating and studying Ernest Krieger’s psychiatric reports. With assignments made, the Team heads out for the day. Before any vehicles leave Nip and Cat take out the GPS trackers from the two rental vehicles, but keep them so they read that the cars are still at the mansion.

The initial plans go well and Kyle plants the tracer on the Dutch heir’s car. Kyle then returns to the mansion and disassembles the devices. He discovers the parts are made in Serbia.

12:30 PM
Friedrick Van Schoonhoven leaves the Maca Bana Villas and heads out. Randy and Natasha follow. At 12:50 pm the car stops at the front gate of a large mansion where it is screened for bugs. Our two operatives just kept driving on as they realize that the tracker will soon be found. The car enters the residence. There is some sort of function going on.

(GM Note: This is the Governor General’s residence. The young lady who was with the heir last night was Lady Leslie Tyler, daughter of Lord Thomas Tyler, the Earl of Pembroke and Governor General of Grenada. Lady Leslie Tyler and Friedrick Van Schoonhoven are old friends, but she does not know Ernest. Good thing they didn’t try to just pay her like a common whore to leave Zanzibar’s last night, which they had considered.)

After 1 PM
At Zanzibar’s Allison and William take the booth. While there, they see a carving that has been filled in very recently. It reads like this: “A || W”. It takes about 10 minutes for someone to shoo them away. They ask politely who the table is reserved for. The reply is Lady Leslie Tyler. Yes, that carving was done by a young German almost two weeks ago on Halloween. Yes, Lady Leslie Tyler and Friedrick Van Schoonhoven were also here. There was a young woman of mixed race with them also.

1:15 PM
Zahra has managed to slip into the neighborhood of the Lime and begin her investigation. Her story is she is moving from Jamaica to here. She allays the suspicious elements easily and gets a feel for the area. Finally she learns that the apartment they are interested in belongs to a Diego Salazar, a fixer who (among other things) provides safe houses for people who need such things. This man likes to hang at the Music Room, a club south of St. George.

Zahra decides to push it and asks, “Any problems with the ‘white bread’ around here?”

That seems to change the mood. The people she is talking to get evasive. Then a couple of SUVs, small trucks and a limo pull up to the safe house in question. Some very “serious” looking men start to load boxes from the house to the trucks. As Zahra watches she sees one of the neighborhood kids walk up to the well-dressed man who stepped out of the limo and speak with him briefly. The two then look across the street at Zahra. She decides it’s time to leave. Good thing too as there is a pursuit.

Zahra calls to Randy who prepares a reception. By now Zahra is running across an open field behind the Lime. The first of her pursuers comes around the corner of the last building and levels a pistol at the fleeing solo. Randy fires for the weapons arm. He hits but the damage is so great that the pursuer dies. The rest of the “hue and cry” comes around that corner and stop short. They make off with their friend’s body and Zahra escapes. Roger and Natasha are sent to pick them up since their tailing assignment is now a bust. The four return to the mansion.

1:50 PM
Cat identifies the function in the picture they were given by their client. It is the first of the four “Go Grenada” festivals to boost local businesses. The third is occurring today, but will close at 6 pm. She also identifies the man with the glasses on the left side of the shot looking at the couple as Terrence Wharton, the Facilities Director of the Maurice Bishop Convention and Sports Complex. Kyle, Randy, Natasha and Roger head down to the complex to see what they can. The five spread out at the festival. They locate Terrence Wharton, show him the picture and with a little financial incentive he has something to say.

“Oh, yes, I remember them now,” says Terrence, “They were a nice young couple.” Unfortunately, he hadn’t talked to him, but Ramon, the young man running the picture taking concessions did. The facilities director leads them to the Ramon, who is indeed running the photography concession there. Ramon’s/i] memory proves a little hazy until it is jogged by a stack of crisp new Commonwealth Pound notes.

“A yes, such a nice young couple,” Ramon remembers. “They wanted to go deep sea fishing so I sent them to the Livingston Dock on the north side of St. George. There are three deep sea fishing charter boats, and my cousin, Tomas, owns the lunch shack there.”

Kyle thanks them and the four Team members head to the Livingston Dock. Randy stays off the dock but positions himself to back up the other three. At the end of the pier are three deep sea fishing boats. The question is which one is the right one. Kyle goes up to Tomas at the lunch shack.

Tomas asks,” What can I get you, sir?”

Kyle shows him the picture of the two teenagers and asks if he has seen them. Tomas gives it a glance and says, “I am sorry, but we get a lot of people thru here. Are you sure you and your friends don’t want something to eat?”

Kyle orders food for everyone and leaves an extravagant tip. Tomas then takes another look at the picture. “Wait, I think I do remember them. It was around the beginning of the month, they wanted to charter a fishing trip. I sent them to Captain Mitch there.” The young man points to the boat straight ahead with a white man in his late sixties swabbing the deck.

Kyle, Roger and Natasha head over to talk to Captain Mitch. The old man greets them and Kyle again shows him the picture. The old man looks at it for a minute, shakes his head and says, “No, I don’t believe I ever met them.”

Kyle replies, “Tomas over there says he sent them to you at the beginning of the month about a fishing charter.”

“He did?” Mitch replies. The old man shouts over his shoulder, “Rochelle! Would you bring me my glasses!”

An older woman exits the cabin and brings her husband his spectacles. She looks at the picture also. “Isn’t that the nice young couple you took out fishing a couple of weeks ago?”

Mitch puts on his glasses and looks again. “Yes, I think it is them. Nice pair of kids.” At that Rochelle nods in agreement and shuffles back inside the cabin.

“Do you remember where and when you took them,” asks Kyle.

“Yes,” Mitch replies, “It was Wednesday, November 2nd we went north and fished through the Grenadines. We got back about 8:30 pm that night.”

“Did they say anything?” asks Kyle.

“Sure, they talked a lot,” Mitch replies.

“What did they say?” continues Kyle.

“I don’t know,” says Mitch.

“How can you not know?” asks Roger.

“French,” replies Mitch.

“They talked about the French?” inquires Roger.

“No, they talked in French,” answers Mitch. “I don’t speak French.”

Kyle sighs. “Do you have a record of the trip?”

“Sure,” says Mitch, “Right here.” And he taps the side of his head.

The two solos have been checking out his boat, which appears to have all of the state of the art equipment. There are also several cameras looking at the dock. The three thank the Captain and head home to the mansion. They have gained three days on their quarry.

Back at the mansion, Cat and Nip go into the NET and head towards the Livingston Dock. They are quickly able to find the security cameras, and the records of the past two weeks are still in the cache. On Wednesday, November 2nd they see Captain Mitch, Ernest and Daniela board the boat in the morning and leave. They fast forward to that evening and at about 8:40 pm Mitch returns with his boat [u]alone/u].

Two operations are immediately planned. Kyle, Cat, Randy and Zahra will go back to the Livingston Dock tonight, break into Mitch’s boat and look for clues. William will go to the Music Room and look for Diego Salazar and Roger and Natasha will back him up. Allison will continue the stake out of Zanzibars’. Diego Salazar does not show up and there is nothing much happening at Zanzibars’. The boat burglary is easy. They find that the boat has a GPS. Cat taps into it and Nip runs the device for the travel information for November 2nd. It seems that the information was downloaded to another site on November 3rd and the record here erased. Nip is able to get the IP address and realizes it is located within a mile or so, but can’t narrow it down any more. The computer the information was downloaded to is currently off line. The Team withdraws. Tomorrow is another day.

Nip does have some information on Ernest Krieger’s parents. She also feels that someone has been “sanitizing” information on the Krieger family on the NET. As the Team already knows, Ernest’s mother died in childbirth when the young man’s sister was born.


Manfred Krieger
(Library Search Results)

Manfred Krieger was born on March 20, 1992 in Salzburg, Austria. Manfred lived the life of an idle Eurocrat. He did have access to the family trust so he could afford his lifestyle. In 2025 he met Christina von Freiburg and fell in love. They were married the following year, and in 2027 they had a son, Ernest.

Then in 2030 his beloved wife died and his world fell apart. He packed his son off to boarding school and arranged for his maid aunt Gretchen to care for his daughter until she was old enough for boarding school. Manfred buried his grief by “jet setting” around the world with the rich and useless. In 2037 he died after a diving accident in the Arabian Sea.


Monday, 14 November 2044: (12 Days behind Quarry)

In the morning the Team waits and at 8:12 am the target computer comes on line. It is Mitch and Rochelle’s computer. It is a simple matter for Nip to extract the route information and plot it on a map. Mitch’s route for November 2nd has him heading southeast from Jamaica and going to the island of Tobago. The boat went to the public dock in the capital of Scarborough, waited for ten minutes and then moved to a fuel dock at a local marina. Twenty five minutes after that the boat started its return trip to Grenada.

Kyle turns to the group and tells everyone to pack, they are flying to Tobago right now. Nip is told to pull up maps and some local info to help the Team get around the island. William and Allison are recalled. The Team is airborne within the hour. A brief 45 minute flight time passes and they arrive at the Scarborough Airport and go through customs. With their Commonwealth residency cards, Disney IDs and the fact they are coming from a Commonwealth country (Grenada) makes the check in a brief formality. Kyle, Cat, William and Doc Freeman take the Jag to the public docks. William takes a copy of their picture to the line of cabs at the first dock where the commercial boats land, and Kyle takes his copy of the picture to the cabbies lined up at the dock where the private vessels land. William comes up empty, but Kyle finds the cabbie who drove the two when they arrived. A hundred Commonwealth pounds even gets the address he took them to.

Kyle dispatches Allison and Randy in the sport spinner to check out the house immediately. The rest of the Team heads over to stake out the place. It is a one floor bungalow with no neighbors nearby. IR and Thermo scans find four people in the house. From their listening devices (courtesy of Nip), they are sure that their targets are not there. Still, Kyle decides on the direct approach. Nip interdicts the phone lines. They jam the cell phones. The Team puts on masks, surrounds the house and knocks on the front door. Cat knocks the person who answers the door out cold, runs into the living room, guns drawn shouting, “Nobody move or I’ll kill you where you stand!” There is no resistance. One of the young men actually pees himself. The four immediately beg for their lives.

Before Kyle begins his interrogation he makes his cell phone ring and then “answers it.”

“Yes sir, we are there now. (pause) No, the two aren’t here. (pause) I am trying to determine if the others here are helpful witnesses or loose ends that need to be dealt with. (pause) Yes, sir, I will call you back when I have determined that.” Kyle then hangs up his phone.

Well, the four young people are not brave or foolish. “Cooperation” is their middle name. Bob, whose parents own the house, went to school with Ernest. “He (Ernest) came two weeks ago to visit with his girlfriend. He left last Monday (November 7th) for Trinidad, and no, I don’t know where. I swear I don’t know what he is up to and we have nothing to do with it.” Bob blurts out, “I don’t even like him that much.”

Through all the whining it is apparent that these kids don’t know too much. The masks, Kyle’s demeanor and Cat playing with her mono knives have the four singing all they know. The only thing that catches the Team’s attention was that Ernest made five calls just before he left last Monday on Bob’s house phone. Kyle looks at the expensive computerized phone system and has a hunch. He places a tap on it letting Nip into the memory. She pulls five phone numbers. Kyle gives each “prisoner” 500 pounds cash and to Bob he gives 1500.

“Now”, Kyle explains, “No one was ever here, you never saw us and you won’t contact Ernest. We will know if you do, and if that happens we will have to come back for you and…..” Well, there is no further need of an explanation. The four young people agree no one was ever there. Nip leaves a remote on the roof to listen to the conversation after the Team leaves. Yes, the four look at the money in their hands and decide that they do not want to ever see the Team again so they say nothing.

The Team flies to Trinidad. William gets on the phone and in ten minutes he has arranged a safe house there for the group. The safe house is a mansion on top of a hill overlooking Port of Spain. There they settle in and Nip is set to researching the five phone numbers they have. She soon learns the following:

Phone Numbers:

1. Unlisted
2. The Islamic Center of Trinidad
3. Twin Island Pharmaceuticals
4. Unlisted
5. “Harry’s”, a bar in Port of Spain

With Nip ready to track the call, Kyle calls the first number and a voice answers with just, “Hello?”

Kyle’s response was not what was anticipated and the phone hangs up. There is no answer after that and Nip reports that the phone was immediately shut off. Nip was able to trace the location to a couple of blocks down in the harbor district. William then calls phone number four and it goes to the Internet Phone Company’s voice mail server. William leaves an angry message for “Mike” and hangs up. Hopefully it will be taken as a wrong number.

Cat calls Captain Istvan Vadas of the S.S. Admiral Horthy and tells them that they have moved on to Trinidad. Captain Vadas says he will haul up anchor and get underway immediately for there. For the evening the Team divides into three groups. Doc Freeman and Allison will stay at the safe house and work on the psychiatric reports. Roger, Natasha, and Zahra will head down to the harbor area where Nip will try to guide them as close to the location of phone number one as she can. William, Randy, Kyle and Cat will head down to “Harry’s” and see what that place is about.

Roger, Natasha, and Zahra drive around the harbor directed by Nip. It is all warehouses and businesses, but there is one bar. Roger goes in, sits down, pulls out a big wad of cash. He looks around and realizes he is the only white man in the place. Roger then makes a comment about hoping he won’t get “mugged”. The regulars notice him enter but mostly just ignore him. There are a few people at a back table that take an interest. Roger has a drink and waits. Nobody bothers him. The man has Beta Tuff Bone and level two Grafted muscle on top of advanced muscle and bone lace. He looks like a “brick”. No one is going to try to screw with him, really now. A little while later Zahra comes in. She looks around and walks over and sits with Roger. They both realize this isn’t going well. A man from the back table gets up and leaves out the front. Roger gets up and follows him out only to find that his target is waiting just outside the door. Roger continues on towards the car. The man starts to follow at a discreet distance. At this point Zahra leaves the bar and starts to follow also. Roger gets in the car with Natasha. The man slows as he walks by and looks at the two in the car. The man gives them a smile (click, click goes the camera in the cybereye). The man continues by the car then turns to look over his shoulder (click, click as he looks at the license plate), and continues on. Zahra gets to the car and all three decide to leave before this gets any worse.

At ‘Harry’s’ Kyle and Cat walk in first followed a couple of minutes later by William and Randy. As Kyle surveys the room he sees someone he recognizes at a back table. It is William “Uncle Billy” Titcombe. The man served with the C.I.A. for over thirty five years. He had been a station chief at several locations around the world and ended up as a deputy director. He “retired” to become the most influential fixer in the southern Caribbean basin. Now Uncle Billy was looking right at them, smiling, and waving them over. The two head over as the fixer’s “associates” let them pass.

“Well, well, who would have thought this morning that the agency’s number one burned spy would be walking through my door tonight. And you,” the old spook continues turning to Cat, “I have heard about you. Your dad was a friend of mine. I am sorry about his recent troubles. There is probably more to that story than I have heard, but I won’t pry. Sit, sit, what brings you to Trinidad?”

The two sit as Kyle begins, “Well, we are here on a job. We are looking for two people and hoped you might be able to help us.” He then hands the old fixer a picture of the two kids.

Uncle Billy takes the photo, looks at it and smiles. “Oh yes, nice young couple, I remember them. It’s funny, they said someone like you would come.”

“Could you tell us what they wanted or where they went?” inquired Kyle.

“I could,” replies Uncle Billy, “but I won’t. I can tell you that we did some business together, I won’t deny that. As far as what that was or where they are that’s confidential.”

“There is nothing we could do or give you to change your mind?” asks Kyle.

“Now, what would that do for my reputation?” replies Uncle Billy.

“Look,” presses Kyle, “The young man has serious mental problems. He is off his meds and his life may depend on us finding him.”

“He seemed fine to me,” answers Uncle Billy. “Nice try, but I can’t help you.”

Kyle nods and thanks him for his time, the two get up. As they leave Uncle Billy adds, “Catherine, my condolences on your mother’s death. I respected her a lot.”

Cat is surprised by this but responds with a “Thank you.” The two head to another table. After about ten minutes William heads over also to have a talk with Uncle Billy. The guards make no attempt to impede him. It seems William’s reputation precedes him.

“Well, it’s big night here,” Uncle Billy says as William approaches. “Who are we today? Max, Bob, Dave?”

William Eller”, is the reply.

“I remember that one too. How have you been?” asks Uncle Billy. “I hope you are not here to ask where those two young kids are too?”

“No, I understand your position. I just want to know that if we do find them this isn’t going to disturb any plans or operations you have going?” asks William.

Uncle Billy shakes his head, “No, our business is complete. I won’t wish you any luck though. I like those kids. I hope they get away.”

The two speak for another ten minutes about mutual friends before William excuses himself. The Team soon returns to their safe house. Doc Freeman has translated and studied the psychiatric report from the Halberstadt Institute on Ernest Krieger. He tells the Team it pretty much confirms what Otto Krieger has said about his grandson. The report is well documented and professional. The young man needs serious help. For now, however, that will have to wait for tomorrow.



Episode 27: Who Are Those Guys?

The Team continues to investigate the five phone numbers they have that Ernest Krieger called. They discover that Daniela has family in the area, there are boosters in Trinidad and someone keeps trying to “bug” them. It seems they are not the only ones looking for the two run away lovers. Has the job been double booked? Is there another player they don’t know about? Before the end, bullets start to fly!

Dramatis Personae

The NPCs

Arthur Lewis: He is the president of Island Pharmaceuticals of Trinidad.

Captain Istvan Vadas: Captain of the super yacht, SS Admiral Miklos Horthy. He is also a reserve officer in the Hungarian Navy. He likes young women; very young women.

Daniela Gaspard: The 16 yo girlfriend of Ernest Krieger and daughter of two imprisoned Europe 3000 terrorists. She has run off with the young heir.

Ernest Krieger: The 17 yo grandson of Otto Krieger and target of the Team’s search. He has a history of mental problems and is off his meds. The young man has run away with his girlfriend, Daniela Gaspard.

Magda Berchtold: The 38 yo third wife of aging patriarch Otto Krieger, and sister of Count Johan Berchtold, the Hungarian Foreign Minister and one of that country’s wealthiest men.

Iman Dr. Malik Samake: Currently teaching at the Islamic Center of Trinidad and is Daniela Gaspard’s great, great uncle.

Michael Szekere: A young 20 yo steward on the SS Admiral Miklos Horthy who will bend over backwards (and any other position you would like) to make the female Team members “comfortable”.

Dr. Mohan Bagvarti: A former drug researcher for Island Pharmaceuticals in Trinidad now running a small clinic/hospital in Lethem, Guyana.

Otto Krieger: Our client is the 82 yo President and CEO of the Vienna Credit Bank, a major Euro investment banking house.

The Action

Tuesday, 15 November 2044: (8 Days behind Quarry)

Cat calls an 8 am morning meeting and makes daily assignments.

Allison is to fly out to the S.S. Admiral Miklos Horthy and pick up a sample of Ernest’s and Daniela’s clothes (they have their scent on the items).

Team 1: Kyle, Roger and Natasha go to the Islamic Center in the morning and see what they can see. They are to spend most of the day there. Kyle decides he will try to get a Knowledge: Islam +3 chip so he can at least hold an intelligent conversation on the subject. Cat thinks this is an excellent idea and gets two more for Roger and Natasha. Kyle also buys three Arabic +3 chips and distributes them to Team 1.

Team 2: It will take a few hours to arrange, but the people at Island Pharmaceuticals will see Dr. Freeman. The president of the company, Arthur Lewis, has been called and told that Doc Freeman is looking for some investment opportunities. The company is eager to talk with the doctor. He will bring William, Randy, Zahra and Allison with him.

Allison flies out to the S.S. Admiral Miklos Horthy in one of the spinners. There she is greeted by Michael Szekere, one of the ship’s stewards and “friend” of Zahra. He brings Allison to where the clothes are being stored and peppers her with questions about Zahra. While there is quite the bustle of activity on the ship, it seems that many on the all-male crew find some time to pass her in the narrow corridor. These men need a shore leave! Allison is only curious where the captain is. Well, he is hiding…er…busy right now. Michael walks Allison back to the spinner and reminds her, “Tell Zahra I said hi!” Allison returns to Trinidad to accompany Team 2 to Island Pharmaceuticals.

Team 1 goes out and gets their chips, then heads over to the Islamic Center. It is a sprawling complex with a mosque, a madrasah, a child care center, a health center, library and performance/movie hall. The three spend hours walking through the beautiful landscaped grounds. The do notice that there are heavily armed guards posted discreetly around the center. Security is tight, but the mood of the center is one of relaxed contemplation.

Team 2 gets to Island Pharmaceuticals and parks their rented limo in the parking lot. Inside, Mr. Arthur Lewis and his staff are waiting. The Team is brought around the security scanners. The president tells them they were the subject of a cyber-attack this morning and the security system is not back up completely yet. He assures Doc Freeman that this is not a usual occurrence and nothing was stolen. The party gets the full tour of the facility. William asks all the right questions and keeps the tour going well and friendly. Finally as they all assemble in a conference room, William inquires about the number of empty laboratories. They are informed that cash flow issues have forced them to close a few research lines, but they could all be reopened quickly if they had an infusion of cash.

A discussion of the closed research lines brings up the subject of psychiatric drugs. Arthur Lewis comments that, “One was very promising. In fact one of the test subjects was here about 5 days ago looking for Dr. Mohan Bagvarti, the chief researcher. The young man said he was doing very well. Unfortunately, Dr. Bagvarti has returned to run his hospital in Lethem, Guyana. A few more questions convinces the Team that this was probably Ernest.

William and Doc Freeman arrange for the financial people to meet so they can have a look at the books. The group leaves and returns to their vehicle. At this point Doc Freeman is seriously considering investing in this company. They are discussing just this as they close the doors of their limousine. Randy starts the car and looks ahead just in time to see the condensation trail of a light LAW’s warhead out from some bushes across the street towards them. It crashes right into the front of their car and explodes. The limo is lifted up in the air and thrown back a few feet, but they are all alive. Cat had rented them an armored limousine.

Still, flames are pouring out of the engine compartment so Randy, the driver, bails out of his seat with his Colt AMT in hand. From the other front seat, Zahra also exits the vehicle with her Armalite in hand. Doc Freeman gets his weapon ready but remains inside the car with Allison. William jumps across the back seat and gets out the driver’s side. Randy and William see two boosters charging up on the driver’s side each with a pair of cyberlimbs. They are about 25 meters away. Randy and Zahra both see two more boosters coming at the front of their vehicle about 19 meters away. These two are also wielding handguns, but seem bent on getting close enough to use their cyberlimbs. For Zahra they are not the problem. On the passenger side, two boosters are less than 10 meters away and howl as they charge. They are bent on tearing the solo to pieces. Zahra shoots the closest and he falls to stun/shock. The second fires his handgun, hitting and slightly wounding the Jamaican. The booster then pulls a mono-katana from his back sheath and closes for the kill.

On the driver’s side, William is now regretting his earlier decision of: “I don’t need to bring a gun, I am a businessman.” He dives right back into the limo before any others can get out. Randy levels his Colt AMT at the closest booster coming from the front and fires two (called) shots to the head. He misses both times.

(GM Note: Randy’s player is the same as Sam Fisher’s. Since Sam ended up doing five years in a Federal prison for Extortion after Episode 22, he needed a new character, hence Randy. Sam is one of the oldest and most experienced characters in our campaign. It seems for this instant our player forgot that Randy is a new character, and while he has good skills, he is not Sam, who could have made the shot.)

Both Randy and Zahra use the armored doors for cover and that stops a lot of the incoming fire. Zahra now concentrates fire on the katana wielding booster. She wounds him and those wounds injure him enough so he misses with his sword stroke. Randy fires again at the booster closing from the front and this time does not try to call the shot. He hits both times and actually lands a random head shot! That gives him one down also! One of the boosters charging from that side throws a grenade at the car, but misses by a mile. Some poor schmuck’s car is wrecked. William looks for the sun roof’s emergency release mechanism.

By now the remaining booster charging from the front reaches Zahra on the passenger side with his own mono katana now drawn. She wisely moves a step or two towards the rear of the burning vehicle. This keeps that booster just out of melee range for this round at least. Now at point blank range with the other katana wielding booster, Zahra goes for the called shot head and drops the metal man. Randy now has to deal with the two coming at his side of the car. They are very close now. The first booster gets a called head shot, which drops him. The second booster he just fires to hit. As luck would have it the ex-Delta Force sniper hits a lightly armored spot. The ganger falls to a failed stun/shock roll and expires soon after. Meanwhile in the car, William finds the sun roof emergency release and pulls it. It looks like he preparing to use it as a bullet shield.

Zahra puts two rounds the booster who is now coming around the door at her. She drops him, barely. Her troubles are not yet over. The first booster that failed his stun/shock roll is now getting up! Since Randy has disposed of the boosters on his side he steps back to the rear door and opens it to get his charges to safety. Unfortunately he has forgotten the one booster that had fired the light LAW. (GM Note: I was very clear about where the shot had come from. The attacker had positioned himself to be able to fire his missile and then cover the driver’s side passenger door. William had not been shot when he jumped out because the booster was changing weapons. As Randy steps out from the protection of the front armored door, the remaining booster sprays him up with a Bushmaster SMG. Randy is blown right into Mortal! The three inside the car see Randy get hit and decide NOT to accept his invitation to get out on that side. Randy then falls back into cover behind the car door.

Zahra prepares to finish off the last booster, but she is out of ammunition. The booster is not a complete fool. He turns and runs. By now security from Island Pharmaceuticals is pouring out of the building. The remaining attackers are in full retreat. The Team is rushed inside the facility and doctors begin treating the wounded. Arthur Lewis, the president of the company, constantly apologizes. This sort of thing has never happened before. The police are there quickly and take reports. At first the Team suspects that this company may have been involved in the attack, but their actions allay those fears. In the end, the Team believes (correctly) that they had nothing to do with this attack.

Finally, a new vehicle is procured and the Team leaves Island Pharmaceuticals. As they leave the building, they walk through the now operational Scanway. The alarms go off. They quickly identify Allison as the cause of the alarm. A search of her person discovers a small sophisticated listening device planted on the outside of her clothes. The Team puts it in a box to muffle its transmitter and takes it with them.

Meanwhile, at the Islamic Center, the other three have gotten a good feel for the place. While reading some announcements posted there, they see a lecture coming up by Iman Dr. Malik Samake of Mali. All three recognize the last name as the maiden name of Daniela Gaspard’s mother, who was also from Mali. They inquire and learn that Iman Samake is serving as a teacher in residence at the Center as part of an exchange program. He lives on the grounds and is having “office hours” right now. They head over to see him. Kyle decides that having all three of them walk in may be a little much. Roger, who is rather intimidating, will remain outside, but close in case of trouble. Kyle and Natasha will go inside and meet with the Iman.
In the outer office, his secretary tells them that the Iman is meeting with someone else right now and the young man sitting over there is next. If they would like to wait they can see him then. Kyle thanks the secretary and he and Natasha sit and wait.

After about forty-five minutes the two are admitted to the inner office. The Iman is a tall thin black man but his features are not totally black African. He is part Tuareg. The Iman is in his seventies but his eyes still sparkle with life and vitality. Kyle sizes him up and decides a direct and truthful approach would probably be best. He tells the Iman that they are looking for Ernest Krieger and are acting as agents of his family. The young man has serious mental problems and although he might care for Daniela she could get hurt due to his deteriorating mental condition. The old man listens politely and attentively. When Kyle finishes the Iman replies, “Yes, they said someone like you would come.”

“Then you have seen them?” asks Kyle.

“Of course,” is the reply.

“Will you help us?”

“No”, says the Iman. “I do not believe you have their best interests at heart.”

“Our concern is that Ernest gets the help he needs,” continues Kyle.

The old man sits in thought for moment and continues, “Among other things, I have a doctorate in psychology from the Sorbonne in Paris. I have talked with Ernest at great length, and while he may have some issues he needs to work on, I think he is quite sane and a fine young man. His only drawback is he is not a Muslim, but that is all right. I can tell he loves my great grandniece very much and she will bring him around. At any rate, I don’t know where they are now, and I wouldn’t tell you if I did.”

Kyle looks into the old man’s eyes and knows that further arguing will be useless. The Iman’s words, however, make Kyle think. He loves his great grandniece and obviously likes young Ernest. Kyle thanks the Iman for his time and gives him his card with his phone number. The Iman walks the two to the door of his outer office.

“I cannot wish you luck in your endeavor,” says Dr. Samake, “but may Allah watch over you and keep you from harm.”

Kyle and Natasha retrieve Roger, who has been followed very discreetly by the Center’s security, and head to the car. That is when they get the call telling them of the booster attack. The three head back to the safe house.

Once back together the Team has a meeting. The first thing Cat does is order a complete security sweep of the house, the gear, the Team and the vehicles. All results are triple checked! A tracker is found on the spinner that Allison flew out to the ship in. The young girl is immediately quizzed on who had access to her and the spinner. Of course, the steward, Michael Szekere, comes right to the top of the list. He had been very “helpful and friendly” to Allison this morning. The two bugs are given to Kyle for him to study later. Now, a decision has to be made. The Team believes that Ernest’s next move will be to contact Dr. Mohan Bagvarti in Guyana. Out to the spinners and AV the Team goes. All except for Randy who is laid up for a couple of days with some bullet holes in him. The rest load up and fly south towards Letham, Guyana. Zahra is not 100% but in her lightly wounded state she is still combat effective.

Nip “phones” ahead and rents a bungalow at the Savannah Inn for the Team. She also makes contact with Guyana border control in Letham and arranges for the Team’s arrival. Since Guyana is another Commonwealth country, this is a mere formality. A large SUV (old but serviceable) is waiting for them at the airport. Letham is a small town on the Brazilian border in the west of Guyana. It has a mixed population: descendants of Indians (from India), black Africans and Native Americans. The country has a very heterogeneous population.

Allison is tasked to fly in the sport spinner over the town, first to watch over Cat, Kyle, Doc Freeman and William as they drive to the hospital to see Dr. Bagvarti. After that she is to fly to the Doctor’s home and check it out from the air. Roger, Natasha, Zahra and Nip take the SUV and head over to the Savannah Inn to check in to their bungalow. They get to the hotel and start to unpack. The girls bring in one load each. Natasha and Zahra then start to get the place in order. Nip hops into the NET (OK it is small and pathetic here). This leaves Roger to unload the rest of the vehicle. On his last trip to the car (to pick up the two spare long weapons: an Opium Streetsweeper SMG and an Enfield LPN assault rifle), Roger sees a serious-looking East European man walking from another vehicle to the bungalow next door. This man is staring at Roger and appears to be disturbed by his presence. Then it occurs to Roger that the bugs they found in the mansion in Grenada came from Serbia, in Eastern Europe. The Brit reaches his car as the other man reaches his bungalow and goes through the door. Roger picks up the gun cases and heads towards his cabin. He is about half way back when a burst from an AK-74 comes out of the window and tears into him. Roger bolts for the door and makes it inside, wounded, but still alive.

Meanwhile at the hospital, the remaining Team members enter and see the nurse in the waiting room. This is more like a clinic rather than a full hospital, but it is all Letham has. They ask to speak to Dr. Bagvarti and tell the nurse/receptionist that it is important. Kyle, William, Doc Freeman go into the doctor’s office. Cat remains in the waiting room. Kyle gets right to the point and tells the doctor that they are there representing Ernest Krieger’s family and they need to find the young man and get him to a place where he can be helped. The doctor seems a little troubled by this and thinks for a minute before he responds.

“I am sorry,” the doctor says, “but Ernest Krieger is my patient. I really can’t discuss him or his condition.”

Kyle presses, “We have an order here from a Hungarian court committing Ernest Krieger and we are the legal representatives of his family,” as he hands the document to the doctor.

The doctor looks at it and replies, “It looks very impressive, but I don’t read Hungarian. I do not doubt your word about this, but you might have noticed when you arrived: there is a Guyanese flag flying here, not a Hungarian one. I suggest you go to our local courts here pursue this matter.”

“We may do that,” continues Kyle, “but we are afraid that he might hurt himself or someone else before the court is able to act. Our only concern is for the young man’s safety and that of the young lady he is traveling with.

At this point Doc Freeman starts to quote the report from the Halberstadt Institute. It is clear that Dr. Bagvarti has heard of Doc Freeman but that isn’t always a good thing considering the man’s reputation. Dr. Bagvarti finally tells them, “I can tell you this without breaching medical ethics. If I thought Ernest Krieger was in any way a danger to himself or others, I would be legally bound to report and act on it. I do not feel that way. No, I am sorry, but I will have to ask you gentleman to leave now.”

The three get up to leave, but Kyle says in parting, “I am sorry you feel this way. I must warn you that we are not the only people looking for Ernest. The next people who come may not be so polite.”

(GM Note: The player phrased this last remark in such a way as to not sound personally threatening but rather as a concerned warning. Dr. Bagvarti took it in that spirit.)

The three leave the office and head out. As Kyle is about to turn the corner to the waiting room he hears Cat on the com saying, “Kyle…”

Kyle comes around the corner and sees two men have just entered the waiting room and all the patients seem very nervous. One has a cowl and faceplate and is looking off to the side where Cat had been sitting. The second is another serious East European man who obviously recognizes Kyle. Everyone goes for their weapons!

Kyle draws his pistol with one hand and his mono short sword in the other. Kyle puts a shot in the face of the heavily cybered opponent, but his 9mm round just washes off. The second attacker shoots Kyle but his armor absorbs most of it. Kyle responds by cutting the man’s arm off. Three rapid 11mm shots hit cowl man in the head as Cat walks across the room towards the attackers. This is quickly followed by a blast from her .44 Bulldog. The shots rock his world, but he doesn’t go down. Doc Freeman and William hear the door at the end of the corridor behind them getting smashed in. They turn to see another white man standing there with an H&K MP-2013 SMG; he empties his weapon into both Team members.

(GM Note: I had been rolling pretty badly all night as GM, but now I rolled a 10 on both shots and put 16 rounds into each character. This will eventually do the group well as William was standing near the receptionist, and when he turned to face his attackers he blocked the shots from hitting the woman. She interpreted this as William “throwing himself” in front of the bullets to save her. The armor of both PCs helps reduce most of the damage to impact, but it still tears them up.)

William especially is badly wounded and falls to the ground of his own volition. Doc Freeman yanks both his handgun and tranq gun out and fires. The attacker’s armor turns the damage. At this point Dr. Bagvarti steps out of his door to see what is happening.

In the waiting room, Kyle swings again and removes the other arm of his opponent. Cat continues closing with three more 11mm shots to the head of the metal man followed by the roar of her bulldog. The last shot takes him down. It is not over as the sound of an SMG is heard at the front of the building. Cat finally made it to the door and can now be seen by the man at the car. Her armor turns most of the damage to impact, but still she rolls out of the door critically injured.

In the back, the SMG gunner steps out of sight. Another man steps up with his Dai Lung Streetmaster and fires twice at Doc Freeman. One round hits and damages him slightly. On the ground William considers shooting, but in his position he might hit the researcher so he refrains.

Back in the waiting room, both Kyle and Cat unload at the lone gunman on the front lawn and cut him down. In the back corridor Doc Freeman fires first. His tranq gun scores another hit and drops the gunman in the doorway. At this moment, the SMG gunner steps back in the door with a fresh clip. He has Dr. Bagvarti, Doc Freeman and William dead bang. He pulls the trigger and “click”. (GM Note: Back to crappy rolling, I rolled a botch/weapon jam). The gunner steps back out of sight. Dr. Bagvarti finally gets out of the line of fire.

By now the sirens are approaching and the Team is in no condition to run. The last attacker has fled. Well, if you are going to get shot, a hospital is the best place to be.

Back at the Savannah Inn, Roger has reached the safety of the bungalow and the Team arms up. Zahra moves to a front bedroom window at the corner closest to the building where the fire had come from. She sees scatter grenades start to obscure the front of the enemy’s cabin. Nip pulls out her rifle and sets up to watch their own front door. Roger and Natasha move out the back and in a bounding overwatch head to their enemy’s back door. Roger kicks the door in and they enter. The sound of a vehicle speeding away is heard at the front of the bungalow. There is no one in the main room where Roger and Natasha are, but it is filled with the other team’s gear and equipment. Unfortunately there is a stack of C-6 on the table with a small box on top with a rapidly flashing red LED light. As they look, the light is flashing faster and faster. The two look at each other and run! The explosion blows out most of the interior walls and all the windows. Zahra is lifted off her feet and back across the room, but has only some minor stun damage. No one is getting their deposits back on these bungalows.

At the hospital, Dr. Bagvarti suddenly remembers something, “My wife, she is at my house. Could she be in danger?” Kyle gets on the com and tells Allison to swoop down and pick her up. Dr. Bagvarti calls his wife and she jumps into the spinner when it lands. Allison brings her to the clinic.

Kyle sees one of the enemy’s coms and listens in. He recognizes the language as Serbo-Croatian, but he doesn’t speak it. He hands the device to Cat, who is chipped for it. She listens and says, “They think we ambushed them, and they have called a withdrawal.” As the girl listens further she turns and tells the party, “They think they have been betrayed.” Then the line goes dead as the Serbs realize that the Team might have one of their radios. With her high level of Linguistics (from the University of Bucharest), Cat tells the team she recognized Serbian, Bosnian and Croatian accents.

The entire Team is taken into custody, but the doctor tells the police that the group saved his life and probably the lives of his patients. The receptionist sings praises about William’s “bravery” in taking the bullets that surely would have killed her. The police start to treat the group as victims and not “perps”. The police search for the Serbs, but they escape. They do have the one that Doc Freeman dropped with a sleep round. He is detained by the police.

In the next couple of hours two important things happen. Dr. Bagvarti comes to the Team ashen face, and asks to speak to Kyle, William and Doc Freeman privately.

“I just called my research associate, Dr. Elsa Warren, in Grenada. She was the one who brought Ernest to me. Elsa’s brother Gerhart was a friend of Ernest.” The doctor is almost in tears. “She was murdered two days ago. Not just murdered, but tortured to death.”

The Team is stunned. Dr. Bagvarti is clearly devastated.

The doctor then says, “I cannot break medical confidentiality, but I can ask if you, Dr. Freeman, would give me a consult on this case.”

Of course, Doc Freeman agrees, so Dr. Bagvarti goes into his assessment. He does not believe that Ernest is mentally ill as others do, but he clearly has emotional issues. He believes it stems mostly from the death of his mother and the subsequent emotional abandonment by his father. The young man was on a clinical trial of his new experimental drug designed for young people. The drug is meant to help level violent mood swings that youth are often plagued by anyway. This drug is not a maintenance drug, but is only meant to be used until the teenage brain matures. The doctor feels that Ernest’s previous drug regimens are antiquated and were not doing him any good.

“Unfortunately, I was not able to complete the trials,” the doctor adds. He then stops speaking and thinks for a minute before continuing. “This is my file on Ernest Krieger, but I cannot let you see it. But, pardon me, my stomach is a little upset. Please wait here while I go to the bathroom. I should be only about five minutes.” With that Dr. Bagvarti stands and walks out of the room. The three party members look at each other and photograph the file. When the doctor returns, he asks them if they have what they need. They do and thank him.

Kyle gets a phone call that evening. It is Iman Dr. Malik Samake. It seems there was an attempt to “extract” him as the Center closed for the day. While the attempt failed, one of the Center’s security people was killed. It is clear to him that this is connected to his great grandniece.

“I am taking a chance trusting you, but I hope you are the good man I feel you are,” the Iman says. “Daniela and Ernest asked about a book written by my father, a Mali holy man named Adama Samake. I once told Daniela about this manuscript, which describes the girl’s great great grandfather’s meditations in the desert. It resides in one of the restricted stacks at the Djinguereber Mosque, which is part of the Sankore Madrasah in Timbuktu, Mali. I hope this can help you. All I ask is that you try to make sure no harm comes to Daniela.”

Kyle promises to do his best. Then he makes two calls. The first is to his friend Lieutenant Maurice LeGran from the Trinidad and Tobago Police’s Special Branch. Kyle tells him about the shootout in Guyana and the murder of Dr. Elsa Warren in Grenada. This he connects to the attempted kidnapping of Iman Samake in Trinidad. Maurice thanks him and asks for the name of the investigating officer in Guyana. Kyle gives it to him and tells his friend that he will let the chief know to expect his call. The second phone call goes to the Grenada Constabulary. He identifies himself and gives them the information on the shoot-out, the attempted kidnapping and how it might relate to their murder investigation. Kyle also supplies the Grenadine authorities with the names of the current investigators working the Trinidad and Guyanese cases. The final stroke is to speak again to the local police and inform them of the possible connections in these cases.

That night Kyle has a chance to look at the two “bugs” they found earlier today. They turn out to be of Hungarian manufacture. Everyone on the Team now begins to look at the Hungarian crew of the S.S. Admiral Miklos Horthy in a different light. This “evidence” of their collusion is thin and circumstantial in the extreme. The decision is made to inform Captain Vadas that the bugs were found on the spinner and Allison, but that they may have been picked up somewhere else. We are only informing them on the off chance that someone might try to compromise their ship too. The Hungarian captain is surprised by this news and promises a thorough investigation to see if the bugs originated on his ship.

By now, the Team is longer considered foreign “troublemakers” by the local authorities. In fact they are considered as allies. Dr. Bagvarti again comes to them. He is now aware of attempted kidnapping in Trinidad (from the local police chief). He gives the Team one more clue: two names, Karl and Claudine Ebert. These are the names that Ernest and Daniela are traveling under. He tells them they flew out two days ago in the morning, but he really doesn’t know where. Kyle thanks him, and immediately puts Nip to work searching for those names on airline passenger lists. The local police give Nip a level of access that speeds her search. The rest of the Team rests and heals their wounds.



Episode 28: And Then Something Very Unexpected Happened

The Team gets their revenge on the Serbian Team that has been dogging their investigation by pouring buckets of bullets into them. Ernest and Daniela are in Timbuktu. The Team heads to the country of Mali in pursuit of their quarry in three groups. Cat’s contacts come up with two clean temporary IDs and two that have “a small problem.” Officials are bribed and their quarry is swept up. All that is left is the flight home and cash the paycheck. Then something very unexpected happens!


Otto Krieger, president and CEO of the Vienna Credit Bank, is dying of degenerative brain cancer. His grandson and heir, a young man with a history of mental illness, has run off with his teenage girlfriend, the daughter of two imprisoned Europe 3000 terrorists, and plans to turn the venerable institution into a progressive and socially responsible institution whose primary concern will be to help the “people.” The Team has six weeks to find the heir and return him to his grandfather (and the institution that was treating him). The fee is enormous and the perks are luxurious.

Dramatis Personae

The NPCs

Abdou: A Tuareg rebel leader and officer in the Azawad National Liberation Front (AFLN).

Captain Istavan Vadas: Captain of the super yacht, SS Admiral Miklos Horthy. He is also a reserve officer in the Hungarian Navy. He likes young women; very young women.

Dragoslav Cesic: Leader of the Serbia Hit Team, the “Baker’s Dozen”. He is a man with a price on his head.

Daniela Gaspard: The 16 yo girlfriend of Ernest Krieger and daughter of two imprisoned Europe 3000 terrorists. She has run off with the young heir.

Ernest Krieger: The 17 yo grandson of Otto Krieger and target of the Team’s search. He has a history of mental problems and is off his meds. The young man has run away with his girlfriend, Daniela Gaspard.

Magda Berchtold: The 38 yo third wife of aging patriarch, Otto Krieger and sister of Count Johan Berchtold, the Hungarian Foreign Minister and one of that country’s wealthiest men.

Karim Samake: A man in his late twenties from Mali. He is probably a relative of Daniela Gaspard.

Judge Ibrahim Sisoko: He is a tall thin man and chief judge of the civil courts in Timbuktu, Mali.

Lt. Colonel Daouda Sisoko: A jovial, heavy set man and commander of Mali’s 5th Military District.

Michael Szekere: A young 20 yo steward on the SS Admiral Miklos Horthy who will bend over backwards (and any other position you would like) to make the female Team members “comfortable”.

Otto Krieger: Our client is the 82 yo President and CEO of the Vienna Credit Bank, a major Euro investment banking house.

Petar Grol: A member of the “Baker’s Dozen” wanted by Interpol for murder.

Salif Tourel: A lawyer from Timbuktu, Mali experienced in both civil and Sharia law.

The Action

Wednesday, 16 November 2044: (3 Days behind Quarry)

Most of the Team rests that night, but Nip uses a sleep inducer to spend more time in the NET. With the help of Guyanese law enforcement’s NET access, she follows Ernest and Daniela as they fled Guyana. As the Team wakes with the new day, Nip locates the two runaways. They landed in Bamako, Mali about three hours ago. It is clear they are on their way to Timbuktu, Mali.

The morning brings a new communication from Istvan Vadas, captain of the super yacht, SS Admiral Miklos Horthy. He appears deeply disturbed and embarrassed. His investigation has uncovered a mole in his crew. After a little prodding he reveals that one of the ship’s stewards, Michael Szekere, has been communicating with a Serbian hit team. (This man is also the Team’s #1 suspect.) The people on the Horthy discovered this by a detailed search of outgoing transmissions. It seems the young steward has been piggy backing his transmissions on the regular channels the ship uses daily. His methods are very sophisticated.

The captain does have some encouraging news. They have not only identified the hit team, but they have located their safe house. It is a house removed from the only village on a small island in the Orinoco delta in Venezuela. That is very close. The Captain has spoken to his superiors and he can offer the Team support if they wish to “dispose” of these troublesome people. The Serb team is expecting an update from Michael by 6am tomorrow morning. They have that window to strike in. The Horthy can bring them in and get them out. The ship cannot fire on Venezuelan national territory, but most anything short of that they will do. Captain Vadas is not pleased about this betrayal, and is taking this personally. He is sending the steward on a run to Trinidad for more supplies, which is one of his regular jobs so he will not be suspicious.

The Hungarians have also investigated this Serbian team. It is called “Пекарски Дозен” or the “Baker’s Dozen”. They have small dossiers on ten of the thirteen members with pictures. Also, three of these men have prices on their heads. One Petar Grol, a Serb, is wanted by Interpol for the murder of an Italian businessman and is worth 3000 euro alive. A Croatian, Luka Subic Zrinski, is wanted for questioning for a series of bombings in the Czech Republic. The Czechs are offering 2000 eb for his return, alive. The leader of the team, a Serb named Dragoslav Cesic, is wanted in Romania for crimes during the recent Transylvanian War. They are offering the equivalent of 5000 euro for his return. The Romanians are less fussy about his condition. (William is aware that the Consortium, whom he has worked with for many years, is offering 50,000 euro for Dragoslav, and they are just fine with dead.)

Cat calls her contacts and orders four alternate IDs. They are for two males and two females. She requests that they be East European and Muslim. Also, she would like to see if a letter of introduction could be arranged from a mosque to get access to the library at the Djinguereber Mosque of the Sankore Madrasah in Timbuktu, Mali. Her contacts are not sure they can come up with all of this in the 24 hours she wishes. They will do their best but warn her to have her “checkbook” ready. This is going to be expensive!

Doc Freeman’s business managers contact the Hotel Bouctou in Timbuktu (the finest in that city) to inquire if they would be interested in selling or working on a mutual partnership. They are willing to talk, so travel arrangements are made.

The Team finishes up with the Guyanese authorities and Commonwealth MI-5. They mount up in their flying craft and head out to sea to rendezvous with the S.S. Admiral Mikos Horthy off the coast. The Horthy moves towards the Orinoco delta and the Serbian safe house. Cat sends Allison in a spinner to pick up Randy in Trinidad. He will be sufficiently recovered to participate in the strike.

Captain Vadas opens the bridge and the Command and Control center of the ship to the Team. This dispels any doubts as to the true nature of this ship. The Horthy is a warship with the thin veneer of a civilian pleasure yacht laid over it. The Team rests and gets ready for tonight’s mission. Cat will direct the operation from the C&C and Nip will direct NET operations from the cyber-command station. This makes it necessary to install the Team’s custom tactical display on the Horthy’s mainframe. Nip writes a program to erase it (and all copies) when the operation is over. She is quite sure that her counterpart on the Horthy’s crew will have been told to secure a copy.

The Serbian safe house is on a peninsula sticking into the Atlantic Ocean. It is a mile from the nearest house and two miles from the closest (and only) village on the island. The plan is simple: move in, take them out and if they capture any of the people with a reward on their heads, so much the better. William informs the Team about the “other” reward on Dragoslav Cesic.

About 11 pm the stern of the Horthy opens up and two zodiac-like craft manned by the ship’s marines bring the Team silently to the island. Allison brings Randy in aboard the Sportspinner and drops him on a hill about 450 meters from the house. He has both his M-21 EBR and his Barrett M-90. Allison then pulls off and waits on station. Nip moves in with her SMG armed Bumblebee remote. Now it has a silencer/suppressor on it so it will be a bit harder to spot when it fires. Randy finds a position where he can cover the back of the house, its whole right side and most of the left side.

The safe house has two buildings. The main house is a one story bungalow with a “widow’s walk” on the roof. The “two car” garage/workshop is about 15 meters from the main house on its right side. Three cyber dogs walk the perimeter on the two sides and back of the house. The remotes find a man with an assault rifle on the roof walkway, and two others heavily armed outside by the front door. There is also a back door, but no one at it. In the front left quadrant of the house, four heat signatures are moving around. The back right quadrant of the house has two more. The garage contains two additional heat signatures. The plan is simple. Kill them all!

Kyle, William, Natasha and Roger will approach the front of the house. Doc Freeman and Zahra will approach the right side by the garage. Zahra will prepare to take down the cyberdog on that side and Doc Freeman will fire an M-79 grenade launcher into the garage. Nip will line up on the cyberdog on the left side of the house and Randy will take aim on the roof sniper. In the target house all that is heard is the sound of music on a radio.

On Cat’s signal, Natasha and Roger charge the front door. The two guards there turn to them and are hit in the head by fire from William and Kyle. Randy drops the roof guard. Both Nip and Zahra drop their cyberdogs. The silenced shots do not alert those inside. The cyberdog at the rear of the house detects Zahra and turns towards her. Randy shuts him right down. Kyle and William join the charge.

Inside the cottage, the front door explodes off the hinges as Randy comes thru and steps to the side. Natasha comes in with her SAW at ready. The Russian ex-Spetznaz officer opens fire on three of the four starting on the left. The first two are cut to ribbons, but she misses the last. Roger fires on two on the right, which includes the one Natasha missed. He hits and kills both. Doc Freeman fires his M-79 grenade launcher thru the garage window and lays the round right on the two thermal signatures. Roger then discovers the door to the right back quadrant of the house and kicks that door down. Two people are scrambling out of bed and one has retrieved a pistol. He cuts both naked figures down. William and Kyle enter and sweep the rest of the house with Natasha. The Doc drops a second grenade on the figures in the garage, just to be sure. Zahra then enters the garage. One of the dead is male and one is female. Beyond that it would take a forensics team to tell who they were.

Nip sees a car in the distance come to a screeching halt, turn around and head for town. Randy brings his weapon around but the car is now behind a hill. Cat sends Nip in pursuit. Back at the cottage, the Team does not find any of the enemy with a reward on them. Also, they have two dead Venezuelan women and the two dead Venezuelan dog handlers. Cat tells them to bag the four Venezuelans and do what they can to clean up those four’s DNA. The rest of the bodies are put in a pile outside and Doc Freeman lays two white phosphorus grenades on the pile with any combustible material they can find. They take all the electronics and any papers they find. Cat limits any other looting to one item each.

Nip follows the car into town and it heads for the docks. There she sees Petar Grol and Dragoslav Cesic get out and talk to some people by a large boat.

“I’ve got them,” cries Nip. “Can I fire?”

Cat turns and looks to Captain Istavan Vadas who shakes his head.

“No,” Cat answers, “The fire will technically be coming from this ship and they are on Venezuelan soil.

“But they are getting on the boat and heading out to sea!” wails Nip.

On hearing that, Captain Vadas smiles and tells Cat to have Nip pull back and just keep them under surveillance. Cat does so and immediately orders the Team to withdraw. The captain then turns to the crew and, in Hungarian, orders, “Prepare for surface action!”

All along the sides of the Horthy the four large hidden sponson turrets deploy their Militech 7 barrel 20mm gatling cannons and smaller doors open to expose ten 7.62 miniguns also along the sides. On the foredeck a turreted rapid fire 4 inch naval gun rises into position. The anti-aircraft systems deploy. The zodiacs return to the ship and then the Horthy begins to surge through the waves in pursuit of its prey. The ECM operators on the ship keep the fleeing smuggler’s boat blind to the approaching danger.

At about 900 meters the Horthy turns her port side to the other craft. The 20mm guns start firing. They quickly get hits and the smuggler’s boat starts to slow. Three high explosive rounds from the main gun then blow the vessel to matchsticks! Nip takes her remote over the wreckage. It is flaming debris with a few body parts. Captain Vadas cannot afford to remain in the area any longer so the remote is retrieved and the ship heads back out to sea.

The captain has the crew stand down after they are well out of Venezuelan waters. Nip and her opposite number now have to shut down the system. The Hungarian launches his program to capture Nip’s files as Nip activates her shutdown. With Fred cheering from Nip’s shoulder, the battle programs derezz. The Hungarians get nothing. The officer in the chair next to Nip turns to her, smiles and nods to acknowledge her victory. Nip smiles back sweetly.

Cat makes sure Doc Freeman autopsies the four dead Venezuelans and removes any incriminating bullets and other forensic evidence. He then supervises the cremation of the bodies in the ship’s arc furnace.

The Serbs’ computer is not very helpful. It contains records of the other team’s travel research and such, but nothing they don’t already have. Oh, yes, there is quite a porn collection on it! The GPS reader, bug tracker, three assorted e-books, radios and satellite uplink are put with the Team’s other gear.

The Team is ready for bed, but Cat tells them to pack everything and mount up in their flying crafts. She tells Captain Vadas that they have tracked Ernest to West Africa and the Team will be flying there tomorrow. She wants him to bring the Horthy to Africa and take station off Dakar, Senegal. The Captain is surprised, but agrees. The Team loads their gear, heads to Trinidad and their safe house. Now they are allowed to rest.


Thursday, 17 November 2044: (1 Day behind Quarry)

The Team’s C-23 Sherpa leaves that morning from Jamaica and arrives in Trinidad later in the day. The two spinners are flown back to Jamaica and the Sherpa takes the AV-3 Jaguar back there also.

Cat’s contacts call back and tell her that they were able to put together two temporary IDs for a pair of male and female European Muslims. This couple is writing a book about historic mosques of the world. A call to the publisher will confirm this. Well, for two weeks anyway until the real publisher’s representative gets back from vacation. They also will have a letter of introduction from the great mosque in Constanta, Romania. That may not matter because in a week these IDs will start to “decay”. The cost is 5X normal or 20,000 eb (for both).

For the other two IDs, they have come up with two real people who “no longer need them.” These two people were actually going to Timbuktu. They were couriers on their way to Grozny, Chechnya to take a “package” to that city in Mali. Two members of the Team will have to impersonate the two and make the delivery. After that they will be free to work their own case. At least this cost is somewhat normal (2000 eb each).

It will be difficult operating in Mali. There the Team’s corporate immunity is not recognized. Still, Mali authorities do issue pistol permits for Randy and Zahra in their role as bodyguards.

The Team formulates its plan. Doc Freeman, Allison, Nip, Zahra, Randy and William will be themselves. They will be in Mali to look into “expanding opportunities” in the hotel business. Roger Blackmore and Natasha Kerensky will become the married couple Richard Knowles, an English Muslim convert, and Irina (Rokavic) Knowles, a Chechen expatriate. They will be doing the book on historic mosques. Kyle and Cat will become the couriers Goren Kovac, a Bosnian Muslim, and Ivanka Balakov, a Bulgarian Muslim. They will all rendezvous in Timbuktu, then secure Ernest Krieger and return him to his family. Cat gets local language chips for Timbuktu (French, Bambara, Tuareg and Arabic all at +3) for the whole Team.

At this meeting, Zahra makes two points. First, “If Ernest is declared incompetent or dies, who benefits?” Second, “Otto Krieger will die very soon and then Ernest will inherit. Do we really want to make an enemy of Ernest?” This gets the Team to thinking. Cat asks Nip to investigate the first point, and also to do some research on the late Dr. Elsa Warren.

Nip orders a Microtech Virtual Reality BBS, and has it delivered before her plane leaves. She will program a virtual conference room in it. Then, Doc Freeman, Allison, Nip, Zahra, William and Randy fly to Dakar, Senegal. There they will get a hotel for the night.

During the flight, Doc Freeman gets to study Dr. Mohan Bagvarti’s file on Ernest Krieger. Since it is a file that is part of a study, it does not have the extensive psychological testing as the others, but it is scholarly and complete. Dr. Bagvarti has a completely different diagnosis. Ernest Krieger does have psychological issues. He is impulsive and prone to anxiety attacks probably brought on by the early death of his mother and psychological abandonment by his father. With proper counseling he could overcome these problems and will grow out of the worst of it with age. The drug Dr. Bagvarti and Dr. Elsa Warren were working on was designed to take the edge off his anxiety while leaving him clear. Also included was the notation that Ernest is dyslexic.

On the flight Nip looks into the Vienna Credit Bank and the question of who will benefit if Ernest is declared incompetent of dead. She cannot find this information so she asks William to authorize a 10,000 eb payment to Infocomp. William deems this worthy and the payment is made. It seems the bank is controlled by a trust; control of the trust devolves thru the family like an old aristocratic title. The eldest male child inherits. If there is no male heir, then the eldest female can. If no other heir is available going back two generations, then the widow of the last director of the trust may inherit, and that would be Magda Berchtold. Ernest’s death would not let Magda inherit since Ernest has a younger sister. If Ernest is declared incompetent, then a guardian would be appointed. The trust document stipulates that a close family member related by blood or marriage should be given precedence. That would probably be Magda.

Cat, Kyle, Natasha and Roger fly to Bucharest, Romania to pick up new IDs. Their cover story is that they have just had a traumatic experience (the gunfight in Lethem) and this has given Kyle a sense of his own mortality. He is here to visit the graves of his family. The others are his friends and are here to support him in his “time of need.” Well, they are all immediately detained on arrival. The four are left waiting in a room for almost forty minutes. Finally, a uniformed senior Romanian security official comes in. He seems rather amused.

“I have worked security at this airport for over twelve years.” He begins, “And ten of those as security chief. Every week or so a flagged passport comes across my desk and that person’s embassy will want to speak with them. Today, we have set a record. I get four flagged passports on just one flight.”

The security chief pauses for a reaction, but there is none. That tells him something too.

The official continues (in Romanian), “Kyle Vaduva, Welcome to your family’s homeland. Your current difficulties with your government are not unknown to us. In fact an American Embassy official is here to see you.”

“Do I have to talk with him?” inquires Kyle.

“If you want to enter Romania, yes,” is the reply. Kyle nods.

Then in English; “Catherine Ortiz, or is it Fisher?” asks the officer. “You are traveling on a Paraguayan passport, but there is an American embassy official to speak to you also. Now, since you are not traveling on an American passport, you don’t have to speak with them.”

Cat tells him that she has a dual nationality and will certainly speak with the official.

Now the man turns to Natasha and says (in Russian), “Ah, my dear, it seems your embassy would like to speak to you too.”

Kerensky nods.

The uniformed security man now turns to Roger. “Ah, but Mr. Blackmore you are the big winner today! Not only did your embassy send someone, but Commonwealth MI-6 actually sent an official over, but alas they will all have to wait because Interpol wants to see you first.”

(GM Note: The “what the fuck” look on that player’s face was classic!)

Each team member is brought to a separate interview room. A self-important young man in a suit comes in to speak to Kyle. He shows him his C.I.A. credentials and gets right to the point.

“I know who and what you are, Vaduva. Now, what are you doing in Romania?

Kyle looks at him and with a straight face says, “Visiting the graves of my ancestors.”

The agent slaps his palm down on the table, “Don’t give me that shit! You are a traitor and a criminal. Either you cooperate or you are finished.”

Kyle thinks for a minute and calmly replies, “You know you can just go fuck yourself!”

The operative is on his feet, but masters his anger. “Well, you aren’t going to see shit. We will make sure that you are not allowed to enter Romania. In fact, we will have you deported back to the good old USA and we can have this chat there.” The man starts to walk out.

Kyle reaches for the most diplomatic response he can muster, “Bite me!”

Cat’s interview goes a bit better. She repeats the ‘party line’ about visiting Kyle’s family graves, and the embassy official prods her for more information. Cat just stops him.

“Look you have asked your questions and I have answered them. I am NOT traveling on an American passport and therefore not under your jurisdiction in any way. You obviously know who I am, so let’s just get to it. There is no threat you can make that will change why I am here. Don’t bother threatening me with action against my father; he still has a lot of friends in the agency. That could end up going very badly for you. As for me, my mother’s family and friends are not without influence. So, I think we are done here.”

The American official looks into her eyes and realizes that this is useless. He thanks her for her time and leaves.

A colorless bureaucrat comes to see Natasha. He identifies himself as being with the GRU, Russian military intelligence. He also asks what she is doing in Romania and she dutifully replies that she is visiting the graves of Kyle’s family and providing “emotional support” for her friend in time of need.

“Of course you are,” replies the officer. “The problem is that we are concerned when an ex-Spetznaz officer is working with a burned C.I.A. agent and a disgraced ex-SAS operative. If what you say is true, then all is fine. If not, then you should remember your loyalty to the motherland. It would be in your best interests to keep us informed about your current activities.”

Natasha says she will and the embassy ‘official’ leaves.

Two men walk into Roger’s interview room and they look pissed. They identify themselves as Interpol. One is from Directorate 1 — Counter Terrorism and the other from Directorate 2 — Counter Espionage. This can’t be good. They start the interview by asking him what he is doing in Romania. Like the others he spouts the “party line”. The two seem to accept that, or they are really interested in something else. Finally, they spread six photographs: four men and two women, in front of Roger. They demand he tell all he knows about them and where these people are. He looks at the six pictures.

Roger carefully examines the photos but has no idea who they are, so he says, “I have never seen these people before in my life.”

“Bullshit!” is the response from the two. Apparently that was the wrong answer. The two spend the next hour berating Roger. They drag up the fact that he left the SAS under the cloud of suspicion involving illegal weapons dealing, and the “questionable” company he is now keeping. Still, Roger (really) has no idea who these people are. The more he denies it, the more they don’t believe him.

“All right, if that’s the way you want to play it, so be it,” the D-1 official finally says. “When we bring them down, we will make sure there is a cell right next to them for you.” The two then leave.

Next, the first British ’embassy’ official enters. He identifies himself as MI-6. It seems that MI-5 has briefed them on the recent doings in the Caribbean and Guyana. He has a simple question. “Are you here in Romania about these current troubles?”

Roger assures him that he is only here to lend support to his friend, Kyle, in his time of need. The MI-6 agent seems skeptical, but accepts his explanation.

The ex-SAS trooper’s next ’embassy official’ is exactly that. Roger realizes that the man is actually here to help him get through border control. So the Brit asks, “Can you get me out of here?”

The man says he will do what he can, and in five minutes Roger is brought back to the main waiting area and the rest of the Team. The airport security chief comes in soon afterwards with a piece of paper.

Mr. Vaduva,” he starts, “I have here an official request by the American government to deny you entrance to Romania and deport you back to the United States.” He pauses, and then tears the paper in half. “We do not take orders from the United States. Welcome to Romania, all. I hope you enjoy your stay. Because of this incident, I am sure that my country’s other security services will bekeeping a close eye on you. Also, it seems that all of your own governments will be doing the same.”

The Team’s passports are stamped and they catch a cab into the city. There is quite the trail of vehicles and remotes following them.

Kyle remarks, “I guess we should head to the cemetery first and make the visit.” The Team goes to the graveyard. Cat seems actually moved by the experience. They all then head to their hotel. They triple check themselves and their gear for tracking devices and find none. It is time to lose their multiple tails. This doesn’t prove overly difficult as both Kyle and Cat spent years living in this city. The first attempt loses all but one tail. He is quickly identified and the team then loses him too. They meet their contacts and are brought to a warehouse. There they are given their new identities and have time to work on their disguises and voices. This is somewhat easier for Kyle and Cat since they have a high tech disguise feature. Fortunately, Roger and Natasha already resemble their new IDs.

Roger now realizes that the new identities of Kyle and Cat are two of the people that Interpol is looking for! At first he considers not mentioning it, but then thinks, “Oh my God, no, I have to tell them.”

Well, the two lovers think. It’s not like we have never been hunted before. They now must be extra careful.

Roger and Natasha are taken to Constanta overnight. There will be a quick photo op at the mosque tomorrow and then off to Mali. Kyle and Cat study the interrogation films of Goren Kovac and Ivanka Balakov and the collected research on their drab existence. Although Cat doesn’t seem to be bothered (she did after all spend a year being tortured in a Russian psychiatric prison), Kyle is disturbed by the casual brutality of the Collective interrogators. In the morning it will be on to Grozny.


Friday, 18 November 2044: (2 Days behind Quarry)

Doc Freeman, Allison, Nip, Zahra, William and Randy fly from Dakar to Bamako, Mali. On the flight Doc Freeman starts to translate (with the help of a translator program on his E-book) and study the most recent report on Ernest Krieger from the Budapest Psychiatric Hospital. Upon arrival, they take a series of rooms in the finest hotel in the city. The Team checks to make sure their appointments are set for tomorrow. There are officials to talk to and forms to fill out to begin the process of foreign investment in a hotel in Mali. Their cover must be solid.

Nip works on her next assignment and researches all she can find on Dr. Elsa Warren, who was murdered in Grenada by the Serbians. This information helps the Team understand the complexities of the interrelationships of some of the people involved in Ernest’s life.


Dr. Elsa Warren
(Library Search Results)

 Dr. Elsa Warren was born Elsa Zoller on February 7, 2010 in Cologne, Germany, the eldest child of Dr. Rupert Zoller and his wife Ingrid. She attended the University of Berlin for her undergraduate work and attended the prestigious medical school in Paris, France. There she met Robert Warren, an Englishman studying political science. The two started to date seriously. The doctor went into psychiatry and eventually ended up at the Halberstadt Institute in Vienna. There she remained until 2038 when she entered Austrian military service at the outbreak of the Transylvanian War. She stayed in the army for two years treating the troops who returned from that unsuccessful venture.

Just after the war, Dr. Warren and her husband divorced. They had no children and the breakup was fairly amiable. In 2040, she went to work at the Budapest Psychiatric Hospital, but left abruptly two years later to go into private research at the Twin Island Pharmaceuticals of Trinidad. There she worked with Dr. Mohan Bagvarti on a series of psychiatric drugs. The initial results were promising, but the company could not keep up the funding. The research was dropped.

Last year, Dr. Warren accepted a senior position at the Mount Gay Psychiatric Hospital in Grenada. She has recently published a well-received work on childhood neurosis, and has been mentioned for a Nobel Prize.


Natasha and Roger (as Richard Knowles and Irina (Rokavic) Knowles) take off from Constanta, Romania to Athens, Greece and their various connecting flights to Bamako, Mali.

Cat and Kyle (as Ivanka Balakov and Goren Kovac) fly to Grozny, Chechnya via “Air Wallachia”. This small freight company is run by Martian Ministry of Communications Special Branch as a front in cooperation with the Collective. On the flight, one of the crew comes up to Cat. The crewman used to work for her when she (as Ileana Morel) was the Balkan Station Chief here before the Transylvanian War. He tells her the “truth” about the IDs they are using. The two were captured snooping around their hanger at the airport in Bucharest. The Collective thought they were spying on them, but it turns out they were just trying to get to Grozny to complete their courier assignment. Well, they interrogated them and put them on ice. The crewman tells the two to be careful.

Back in Jamaica, the C-23 Sherpa puts on its external tanks and begins the long fight to Dakar, Senegal. The Team does not want to be totally dependent on the Horthy for their exit.


Saturday, 19 November 2044: (3 Days behind Quarry)

Doc Freeman, Allison, Nip, Zahra, William and Randy are in Bamako, Mali. There they have a few meetings with some minor officials regarding foreign investment in Mali. It is all friendly and business-like except for the last. There the deputy minister for economic development informs them that it will probably take weeks for the proper permits to go through.

“We are a poor country”, the deputy minister explains. “It takes much to get things done quickly.”

At this point, William takes over the negotiations and arranges (with 10,000 eb cash) to get the permits by tomorrow evening at the latest.

(GM Note: Excellent negotiations by William and a killer Streetdeal roll reduced this “fee” from 20,000 eb!)

Later that night, Randy slips away from the hotel and goes to a storage locker with power that Nip had rented earlier in the day on the NET. He puts the Microtech Virtual Reality BBS in there and activates its NET connection. The Team’s virtual meeting room is now ready.

Natasha and Roger arrive in Bamako, Mali. There are three ways to get to Timbuktu. You can take your life in your hands and drive the terrible roads there. Of course you can fly Air Mali (which Doc Freeman’s group will do). Or, you can take the two day trip down river to Timbuktu by boat. The young “married couple” is booked to take the river route — they sit back and enjoy the trip, which is spectacular.

In their cozy cabin that night, Roger turns to Natasha and says, “Hey, not much to do here at night, and we are supposed to be married, so…..”

Off fly the clothes and into the sack they leap. It is time to work on their “cover story”!

In Grozny, Cat and Kyle meet their contact and are brought to a warehouse. There a man asks, “Who has the gun?”

A Glock 17 (Bosnian Army issue) was with Goren Kovac’s belongings so Kyle raises his hand.

Their contact turns to Cat and says, “OK, then you, Ivanka, get the case.” The man produces a large, high security courier’s briefcase and handcuffs it to her left arm. There are three thumbprint scanners on the case. “Put your thumb on the center pad.” She does and the case is now keyed to her. They provide some (very) baggy clothes of North African origin for her. The long sleeves cover the handcuffs and a heavy cloth satchel that she will carry hides the case.

Goren,” the man continues, “Here is your cell phone. When you get to Timbuktu, the two of you will go to the Hotel Colombe Two and wait for your call. The password will be the Sword of Saladin. May Allah protect you both.”

The two are driven to the airport and smuggled onto a cargo flight to Mogadishu, Somalia. When they arrive they are greeted by some very serious people, who take them to a safe house in the slums surrounding the rising new metropolis that is becoming Mogadishu. There they are left for the night.

During that night Kyle hears Cat purring softly. In her half-awake state she is cuddling the case.

Occasionally she sniffs and scratches it. Finally, she notices Kyle looking at her and says to him, “I can’t help it. It’s in my nature.”

Kyle admits he is curious too, but this appears to be more than a simple delivery. It is best to not wonder about its contents and just make the delivery so they can get on with their true mission. Cat sighs and agrees with him. The two go to sleep.


Sunday, 20 November 2044: (4 Days behind Quarry)

Doc Freeman, Allison, Nip, Zahra, William and Randy are still in Bamako, Mali. There they finish up their meetings with officials regarding foreign investment in Mali. They notice a white man who seems to show up in the background everywhere they go. Perhaps he is trailing them? They decide to do nothing yet, but all are now aware and watch him.

On the Niger River, Natasha and Roger notice a male Frenchman of mixed race on the boat who is taking more than a normal interest in them. They take note and continue to “build their cover.” It seems they have drawn quite a pleasant assignment.

Cat and Kyle are taken from their safe house in Mogadishu and brought to a small airstrip outside the city. There they are put on a rickety private plane and fly from Mogadishu to Faya-Largeau, Chad. Cat appears to be more nervous than normal. Kyle asks what the problem is.

“I am listening to the engine and it’s on its last legs,” the biogen replies. “And as you can see this crate has only one engine!”

Well, the plane makes it, lands at the small airport where a group of Tuareg warriors in blue tagelmusts (an often blue turban-veil popular among those people) herd them to a tumble down building near the air strip. The guards do not seem particularly well disposed towards the two Team members.

The Team’s C-23 Sherpa finally arrives in Dakar, Senegal and waits.


Monday, 21 November 2044: (5 Days behind Quarry)

Doc Freeman, Allison, Nip, Zahra, William and Randy fly to Timbuktu in the early morning on an Air Mali flight. The airport is a single runway affair a few kilometers outside the city. A large cab/van is there to take them to the Hotel Bouctou. During the ride north to the city, they see a couple of hundred infantry troops heading out east into the desert. The cabbie laughs and says some of the infantry battalion defending the city is undergoing maneuvers in the desert; better them than him. As they are getting out of the cab at the front of the hotel, Randy sees Ernest, Daniela and a bodyguard get into a taxi right in front of them.

(GM Note: Poor Randy, he was, “ah, ah, ah….” But there was little he could do as his car/van was full.)

The management of the Hotel Bouctou has a full day of activities planned for Doc Freeman’s party. This is, after all, an important “business deal”. Still, Nip finds time to break into the hotel’s reservation computer and find Ernest and Daniela’s room number. She also discovers that a Karim Samake of Bamako, Mali is in the room next door to the couple and those rooms have connecting doors.

Cat and Kyle fly on a cargo plane from Faya-Largeau to Timbuktu. They arrive a little after noon. On the plane they are given local clothing to blend in. As the plane sits on the ground, twelve Tuareg nomads walk up to the plane. Fourteen “nomads” walk away from it. A truck takes them to the Hotel Colombe Two. There they are to wait for a call to deliver their “package”.

On the Niger River, Roger is getting more curious (and bothered) by their French shadow. He looks for an opportunity to get in the man’s room so he can waylay him when he returns. The plan is to leave him unconscious and tied up in his closet. The boat’s next stop will be a day up river. It is daylight, however, and the chance to slip unnoticed into that stateroom does not come about. Natasha and Roger arrive by boat late in the day and take a cab to Hotel Colombe One.

Well, the Team has its first meeting in its virtual conference room. Doc Freeman has finished studying the last psychological report on Ernest from the Budapest Psychiatric Hospital. The Doc’s conclusions are startling. Doc Freeman feels that the first two listed tests are flawed, the Mental Status Examination is nowhere near accepted clinical guidelines, and the brain scan seems wrong. Furthermore, Nip compares the attached brain scans to the others they have and confirms that the brain scan is NOT that of Ernest Krieger. The background information is even thinner than the Halberstadt report and diagnostically incomplete. The interview was too brief and terminated by a supposed outburst by Ernest which seems uncharacteristic of him as Doc Freeman now has a good handle on the young man’s problems. Dr. Morin’s recommendation for hospitalization is wildly premature, the drug regimen proscribed is archaic, and his suggestion of a frontal lobotomy is barbaric. Upon reviewing this document, Doc Freeman can only conclude that this is the worst evaluation he has ever seen. It is based on spurious data and tests of questionable validity. To the layman it appears complete and scholarly, but it wouldn’t pass any competent medical review.

Some members of the Team had been having second thoughts about this mission, and now they begin to speak up.

Randy comes right out and speaks his mind. “I think this Magda hired the Serbs to clean up after her. I don’t trust her. Ernest doesn’t seem to be the nut we were told about. I think we are on the wrong side here. Zahra is right. We shouldn’t be making an enemy of Ernest. Soon he will be a powerful and influential man. Do we want him for an enemy?”

Kyle adds, “I am tired of being on the wrong side, but we really have no proof that we are being lied to. We work for Otto not Magda. I don’t think the man would do anything to hurt his only grandson. Still, if we find proof that we are being double dealed here, then maybe we should change sides.”

“No, no,” injects Roger. “I am here for the money. Who cares about the other stuff? We grab the kid, turn him over, and get paid!”

“Well, we should probably talk to Ernest first,” adds William.

“If we do that,” Allison remarks, “he might just run away.”

“Oh Jesus,” says Roger, “If he does that, I say just put a bullet in the kid and drop him on the deck of the Horthy. That will get us another 50,000 eb at least.”

“That is not going to happen!” insists Randy. “No one is killing the kid!”

Finally Cat intervenes, “OK, maybe we haven’t been told everything, but that is the nature of our business. Killing him is out of the question. We have spent more than 100,000 eb on this mission already. Yes, we have to talk with him, but after we have him in custody.”

“So what should we do?” asks Nip.

“We are the legal representatives of Ernest’s guardian, we have a valid order of commitment and enough evidence to back it up,” continues Cat. “I say we get a lawyer, grease a few palms if necessary and have Ernest detained by the authorities here. The court will take a few days at least and we can talk with him then.”

Everyone agrees this is a good course of action.

Tomorrow’s plan is made. Doc Freeman, Allison, Nip and Zahra would continue with the tour of the city and negotiations with the hotel. William and Randy will get a lawyer, go to the authorities to have their commitment order served and Ernest detained. Natasha and Roger should go to the Djinguereber Mosque and see what they can. Cat and Kyle will have to wait for their call to get rid of their “package”.


Tuesday, 22 November 2044:

Doc Freeman, Allison, Nip and Zahra get the full tour of the hotel and the major sights of the city. The management pulls out all the stops to make their pitch for an investment by Doc Freeman.

Meanwhile, William and Randy find a lawyer, Salif Tourel. They explain the situation and give him their various orders and paperwork. Salif takes their case and they pay him 10,000 eb up front. Half of that sum is for part of his fee, the other half is for “expenses”. The lawyer suggests they go at once to the Palace of Justice where 1000 eb gets them to see the chief Judge Ibrahim Sisoko. The judge listens to their story, looks at their documentation and says this case could have international repercussions. He sends them to see Lt. Colonel Daouda Sisoko, the commander of the 5th Military Region. Judge Sisoko makes a quick call and tells them that the commander can see them immediately.

They all go to the military fort and are brought inside. Randy looks out and it seems an armored force is getting ready to move out. Four old T-54/55 tanks are out of their garages and being prepared in a readying area. They are brought in to see the commander. Lt. Colonel Daouda Sisoko is a more heavy set man than the reed thin judge. The military officer is jovial and friendly. He listens sympathetically to William as he makes his case to “help” the young man get the treatment he needs. Again, William hears the story about Mali being a poor country and how it is hard to get things done, but the commander has a solution. For 10,000 eb he could guarantee a swift arrest today, a quick decision from the local court tomorrow, and they could be on their way out of the country by Thursday. A stack of crisp 100 eb notes appears on the Colonel’s desk. The officer opens his desk drawer and slides the money into it with his riding crop. The commander of the 5th Military Region thanks them and the interview is over.

Natasha and Roger go to the Djinguereber Mosque. They are greeted with great courtesy, and meet with various members of the university there. The two are shown around, but there are many places that women are not allowed to go. Natasha is shown to the women’s area while Roger continues the tour in the restricted areas. There are about a half a dozen local women there talking amongst themselves. Natasha realizes that one of them is Daniela! The Russian keeps her cool and starts talking with all the women there. Her language skills are chipped, but that just seems to amuse (and set at ease) the other women there. Finally, she starts talking with Daniela.

“I am here with my husband,” she tells Natasha. “He is looking for a book written by my great, great grandfather.”

Natasha doesn’t push for information, but concentrates on bonding with the girl.

Roger inquires about their famous library and is brought there. As he looks around, he sees Ernest at a desk reading a bound manuscript. He walks over and introduces himself. The two hit it off! Ernest is impressed that Roger is a writer and is easily coaxed into telling the Brit what he is doing here. He shows Roger the manuscript he is reading. It is the writings of a Muslim holy man, Adama Samake. In it he writes of finding a cave in some hills just north of the salt mining area and oasis of Taoudenni in the north of the country. There was a carving on the wall there. He shows Roger the hand drawn illustration in the book:

“W || A” (I can’t get this thing to type Greek letters so it should read: “Omega || Alpha”)

“Imagine that,” says Ernest excitedly, “Greek letters written in a cave where they have no right to be. And there is more. Iman Adama Samake writes here that he believes there is a cave behind that wall. This could be a huge find!”

The two talk at length and learn that each is there with their “wives.” Finally Roger says, “You know, we should all get together sometime.”

“That would be wonderful,” replies Ernest. “Why don’t you and Irina (Natasha) have dinner with us tonight? We are staying at the Hotel Bouctou and they have a wonderful kitchen.”

Of course, Roger accepts and the two part company. He and Natasha return to their hotel. They are in the home stretch now.

Kyle and Cat are lounging around in their room waiting. Kyle looks at his girlfriend sprawled out on the bed and says, “Hey, we have nothing else to do but wait. Why waste a perfectly good bed?”

Cat just looks at him and rattles the handcuff on her wrist attached to the “package”.

“We can work around that,” Kyle says.

Cat stretches seductively on the bed, “I don’t know, it will be so hard to get my clothes off with this thing on my wrist. I might need some help.”

Kyle has always been a “helpful” sort. The two work up quite a sweat and annoy a few neighbors.

Late in the afternoon Goren Kovac’s “phone” rings. The voice on the other end says, “The sword of Saladin”. He tells the two to come downstairs. A small van is waiting for them. They put on their clothes quickly and go down to the waiting vehicle. The driver introduces himself as Abdou. He drives them deep into the city and the van pulls into a building. There the two are blindfolded and led through several courtyards. Finally, they walk upstairs and then their blindfolds are removed. They are in a large room with a number of Tuareg nomads. There they wait.

Just before sunset a car pulls into the alley below. Two men get out, one is tall and thin, the other more heavy set, but they both bear a familial resemblance. The bigger man tells the other to stay with the car, “In case this is a trap.” The large man comes upstairs. There is a muffled conversation in the other room and Goren and Ivanka (Kyle and Cat) are summoned. Abdou produces a key and removes the handcuffs. Cat is told to put her thumb on the lock. Abdou and the heavy set man follow suit and the case opens. Inside are 10 stacks of 100 eb notes (100,000 eb). The new owner looks under the cash and Cat and Kyle see stacks of bank bearer bonds. There must be millions there! He then sets all the locks to himself and closes it.

Abdou says to the man, “Now, it is time for you to live up to your bargain.”

The heavy set man pulls out his cell phone, hits speed dial and says, “Operation Desert Wind is a go.” He then turns to leave. As he reaches the door, he stops, turns and holding up the case smiles and with a smarmy tone says, “Allah Akbar.”

A few of the others in the room repeat that phrase but without much enthusiasm. After he closes the door, more than one Tuareg spits on the ground and curses. They obviously don’t like him.

Abdou now is beaming. He comes up to the Kyle and Cat and says, “Good news my brother and sister! Your request to us when you first volunteered for this assignment has been approved by the elders. Tomorrow you will join us in our Jihad to cleanse the land of the evil and corruption that plague it. As the sun rises, we will strike and take this holy city back from those who sell it to the infidels!”

As he speaks he leads the two to a door and opens it. Inside is a very large room filled with M-16 assault rifles, M-60 and M2 machine guns, grenades, C-4, ammunition and crates of military supplies.

Abdou continues, “You will stay with us tonight and pray. In the morning it shall be a new day for us in many ways. Come, take what weapons you need. Blood will flow with the red dawn! Allah Akbar!”

From the nearby rooms comes the enthusiastic reply, “Allah Akbar!”

And from both Kyle and Cat’s lips also comes the cry, “Allah Akbar!’

However, going through Cat’s mind is, “I have to have a word with the people that got us these IDs when…err….if we get back.”

As they are getting ready for dinner, Randy looks outside and sees 4 T-54/55 tanks escorting over a dozen BTR-40 APCs heading out north into the desert. Later Doc Freeman, Allison, Nip, Zahra, William and Randy come down for dinner that evening and are surprised to see Ernest and Daniela having dinner, talking and laughing with another European couple (Roger and Natasha as Richard and Irina Knowles), but the Team doesn’t know who they are). About half way through their meal, two officials and a group of policeman enter the dining room and surround Ernest’s table.

Ernest Krieger,” starts the official, “I have an order here to detain you pending a hearing tomorrow. You must come with us.”

The second more traditionally dressed official steps forward and says, “Ernest Krieger and Daniela Gaspard. You have both been living in this hotel under the false pretenses of being married. You both will be charged with the crime of Dina.”

As the young couple is led away by the police, Roger asks, “What is Dina?”

Their waiter replies, “Unlawful sexual intercourse.”

Roger looks at the waiter, “Don’t they cut your head off for that?”

“Oh no,” says their waiter pleasantly, “They are stoned to death for that, but nobody has done that for … almost a year.”

At the Team’s nightly NET meeting, Roger is raging. “We had them in our grasp. A quick invite upstairs, a knock on the head and we would have been on the road again with our payday in hand. Now they are going to kill him!”

William responds, “No, Ernest is bought and paid for. We will be granted custody tomorrow, drop him off on the Horthy, and be on the beach in Jamaica 500,000 eb richer by the weekend.”

Roger is not so sure.

Most of the Team is a little concerned that Kyle and Cat did not come to this meeting. They are probably delivering their ‘package’ now. Everyone turns in for the evening.

Well, almost everyone. Kyle and Cat arm themselves with some grenades, M-16 assault rifles and a couple of Colt Model 1911s. Cat pokes around and finds some old C-4, and a selection of detonators. She secrets them away and an extra couple of Colt .45s in her now empty large cloth bag. Although the elders have given their blessing for them to participate in the attack, many of the Tuareg warriors remain opposed to Cat, as a woman, fighting with them. They will accept it but they insist that she not wear the blue tagelmust, as it is for males only. She is given a tasuwart (the Tuareg head piece for women) instead. There are four other ‘foreign fighters’, who have come inspired by the Voice of the Desert. They will all be on the front lines tomorrow in the main assault on the government house. Tonight is for prayer and meditation.


Wednesday, 23 November 2044:

As the sun starts to illuminate the desert with pre-dawn light, the solos awaken to the sound of gunfire far off in the distance. Randy goes to the roof of their suite and looks south. The gunfire is coming from the airport. The sound of outgoing mortar fire from the military fort awakens the rest of the Team. An inquiry to the hotel desk reveals that Tuareg rebels are attacking the airport. Everyone is told not to worry; the military has the situation under control.

The sun is rising. From the fort, four Type 60 light tanks (Chinese) along with fourteen BTR-40 APCs filled with infantry move out in formation toward the airport. Many of the now awake guests come onto the hotel roof and watch the vehicles head out to relieve the airport. Cannon fire announces the commencement of the battle.

For Randy, however, the volume of fire is much more than what four tanks would make. Multiple columns of black smoke appear in the distance. Soon, only four of the BTR-40s come screaming back to the military fort. Then begins the unmistakable sound of artillery fire and it is hitting the fort in Timbuktu. Roger, Natasha, Randy, William, Zahra and Doc Freeman recognize the sound of 105mm artillery. Soon it is joined by mortars, and finally the sounds of multiple large firefights erupt in the city behind them. To the ex-military, the distinctive sounds of the AK-74 and the M-16 tell them two different rifles are being used in this fight. The guests begin to get nervous.

William tries to make a call on his cell, but there is no reception. Another guest tries the landline, but that is down too. In fact all TV and radio is out or being jammed. William heads to his room and dives into in his cast iron bathtub. He suggests others do the same. They do not. This hotel has drawn no fire at all. Then out of the desert, many armored vehicles approach the city. At first the guests think these the troops that left yesterday evening, but what comes into view are eight M-60 MBTs and eighteen M-113 APCs. Three aging T-34/85s roll out from the fort to oppose them, but are quickly destroyed by the massive M-60s. The enemy armor then storms the fort. The fighting there is over in twenty minutes.

At about 10 am the people at Hotel Bouctou see an M-60 leading four M-113 APCs across the desert towards them. The few troops at the hotel melt away. The Jihadists have a list. They round up a few of the African guests and all of the non-African ones. This group is told they are all being “detained” by the “new government” as their “status” is examined. Doc Freeman, Allison, Nip, Zahra, William and Randy are taken away with all the others.

At Hotel Colombe One, the same scene (minus the tank) occurs, but Roger and Natasha are the only Europeans there. At the jail, the two are given a brief interview and their credentials are checked. To their surprise, they are not put in a cell, but brought to another room and asked to wait. After a couple of hours, a man comes in and questions them on their business in Timbuktu. They explain about their book project on historic mosques of the world, and they even show him the picture of the two of them in front of the Great Mosque in Constanta. The interviewer engages them in a small discussion on the Koran — which their chips help the two avoid making fools of themselves. The fact that they are writers seems to cause their interrogator to warm to them. The official hands them two new identity cards and informs them that better rooms are now available at the Hotel Bouctou. He will arrange for them to be moved there at no additional expense. He ends with, “And I hope you will write well of us. We shall restore this holy city back to the faithful.”

Roger and Natasha are then driven to Hotel Bouctou, which is a huge step up. Finally video service is partially restored. Well, they can get one channel, a Jihadist news report. The first story is the announcement of the Declaration of Independence of the new Islamic Republic of Azawad. This “new” country composes all of northern Mali and much of both banks of the Niger River east of Timbuktu. The report goes on to tell of heavy fighting in the city of Gao in the east by the new republic’s Azawad National Liberation Front or AFLN. There is a video report showing a government gunboat coming down river from Bamako towards Kabara, Timbuktu’s river port. Two bunkered 105mm rebel guns begin to fire on the boat. The Malian navy craft tries to turn and flee, but it is hit several times and sunk. The rebels now have the river blockaded. The news then turns to events in this city. Well, they get to see a video of the storming of the government house. It seems that this militant group is fairly media savvy! However, Roger and Natasha are not prepared for the scene of victorious attackers celebrating in the main hall of that building. Kyle and Cat are among the Jihadists in the ‘uniforms’ of the AFLN celebrating wildly with the rest. Was this part of the plan?


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