TRU Echo

Mission 003: Opertion GERBOISE [session 11]



Assignment: Inspect Reggane, Algeria and determine its ties to Red Sickle

Reggane (26°42′N 0°10′E ) is a town in the Adrar Province of central Algeria, in the Sahara Desert. It is the southernmost town of the Tuat.

In the proximity of Reggane there was until 1965 a rocket launching site where numerous civilian and military ballistic rockets were launched. France began its nuclear testing program in the vicinity of Reggane and conducted 4 in 1960 and 1961, during the Algerian War (1954–62), before independence. The climate is extremely arid and known for very high summer temperatures. On 12 July 2002 the highest official temperature was 48.9 °C.

Reggane is the last town on the Tanezrouft track heading south across the Sahara to Mali. Customs and police inspection here are mandatory before crossing the Sahara.

Gerboise Tests

Gerboise Bleue (“blue jerboa”) was the name of the first French nuclear test. It was an atomic bomb detonated in the middle of the Algerian Sahara desert on 13 February 1960, during the Algerian War (1954–62). General Pierre Marie Gallois was instrumental in the endeavor, and earned the nickname of père de la bombe A (“father of the A-bomb”). The chief scientist for the project was Dr. Andre DePaul.

Gerboise is the French word for jerboa, a desert rodent found in the Sahara, while blue is the first color of the French tricolor flag. So the second and third bombs were named respectively “white” (Gerboise Blanche) and “red” (Gerboise Rouge), the remaining colors of the flag.

With Gerboise Bleue, France became the fourth nuclear power, after the United States, the USSR, and the United Kingdom. Gerboise Bleue was by far the largest first test bomb up to that date, larger than the American “Trinity” (20 kt), the Soviet “RDS-1” (22 kt), or the British “Hurricane” (25 kt). The yield was 70 kilotons, bigger than these three bombs put together.

In comparison, Fat Man, the Nagasaki bomb, was 22 kilotons, one-third as powerful.

Subsequent tests:

13 February 1960: Gerboise Bleue (“blue jerboa”) 70 kt
1 April 1960: Gerboise Blanche (“white jerboa”) 5 kt
27 December 1960: Gerboise Rouge (“red jerboa”) 5 kt
25 April 1961: Gerboise Verte (“green jerboa”) 1 kt

Mission 002: Operation DIRTY RAIL [Epilogue]

Mission 002: Operation DIRTY RAIL [Epilogue]

  • Jack travels with police to the main precinct station in Hamburg. Over the course of the next few days, he works with their doctors and forensic scientists to investigate Tashika Katruta’s body. They confirm the burn marks are of radiological origin and that there have been crude attempts to graft skin over the burn marks. He has clearly been exposed to consistently high levels of radiation in the past. However, the doctors are baffled by the fact that he exhibits no tell-tale signs of cancer induced from the radiological exposure. In fact, he has absolutely no sign of any sort of typically common illnesses or disease that you would expect to see in a man of his age. A detailed investigation of his fingers reveal stretch marks in the skin,. Also, there appears to be degenerated bone, tissue, etc where his missing knuckles should have been. It’s not clear what happened, but Jack and the other doctors reach the conclusion that he was actually born with normal fingers and they were somehow altered later in life. Also of note is the cartilage throughout his body is significantly stronger than normal, while still retaining its flexibility. There is no clear consensus among the doctors about what has happened to Tashika, but many of them propose possibilities that draw from various similar but less drastic known medical conditions. Jack is unconvinced. The entire time he conducts the investigation he can’t help but shake an odd feeling about Tashika – that something doesn’t add up about the whole situation. He’s had this feeling before, when he’s noticed fleeting images out of the corner of his eye, or had a strange tingling sensation before something truly odd or unusual has occurred.
  • Meanwhile Lincoln helps the local police conduct the interrogation of the gunman and the truck driver. The truck driver doesn’t seem to know much. He was hired by an “exotic” woman who looked like perhaps she was from the Russian Far East. She spoke fluent German but with a slight Russian accept. Lincoln quickly deduces that he’s probably referring to Natalia Karnof, one of the six members of Red Sickle. Natalia hired the truck driver and two of his buddies. He was simply told to go to a pre-arranged destination near Gorleben, Germany, pick up some specialized cargo and transfer it to the port in Hamburg. The truck driver has an extensive criminal history, that includes theft, armed robbery, etc. The worst of his crimes was human trafficking. He had multiple warrants for his arrest. The other truck drivers had similar backgrounds. He doesn’t know anything else about the cargo, Red Sickle, etc.
  • The gunman (Danil Titov) can provide a little more information. He was trained by the Red Sickle at the Russian training camp that the group raided. He – like many of Red Sickle’s trainees – was a poor youth who wanted money and was disillusioned with his lot in life and post-Cold War life. He is originally from Moldova. Most of the Red Sickle’s recruits are drawn from Russia, Belarus, Moldova, Armenia, and the Central Asian countries. They typically share a hardline support for communist beliefs and feel the oligarchs who rule Russia and the former Soviet Union, coupled with “capitalism” is why they and their families now live in poverty. The overall motivation espoused by Red Sickle to their recruits is the overthrow of governments and a return to communism.
  • The gunman had met two members of Red Sickle: Santin Yuchenko (the leader of the cell) and Tashika. Santin ran the training camp in Russia, which is why the gunman knew him. The gunman can also confirm that Santin used the call sign “Sickle 1” when communicating with others via radio, strongly suggesting that Santin was the one calling the shots at the camp when the group raided it. The gunman doesn’t know a lot more about Santin.
  • The gunman was much more familiar with Tashika. After “graduating” from the Red Sickle’s training facility, the gunman, along with 3 others – the other gunmen you killed – were assigned to be Tashika’s personal team. In recent weeks they had been working extensively on coordinating the arrival of the Hanjin Ottawa at Hamburg. The gunman isn’t very knowledgable about the specifics, but from what he understands, Hanjin Shipping is a Korean front company used by Red Sickle – or maybe even someone Red Sickle is working for. The gunman does know that the Hanjin Ottawa was go to travel to Algiers, Algeria. He had also heard rumor that from Algiers, the cargo was to be taken to a place called Reggane. He wasn’t sure where exactly Reggane is, but he got the impression it was in Algeria too.
  • When Lincoln further interrogates the gunman about his contact, Lincoln is able to tell that the gunman was being honest and forthcoming with his initial answers. However, Lincoln’s demeanor and intensity (I’m rolling an investigation + intimidation with bonuses from your profession cop skill) seems to really rattle the gunman. It’s almost as if Lincoln’s shear force of will breaks the guys down. He seems desperate to provide some sort of information. He nervously starts spouting off nonsensical minute details – anything he thinks Lincoln might want to hear. While doing so, it seems to job some near-forgotten memory. “Wait…yea, I remember now…that place, Reggane, I – I think it was in Algeria. I remember the boss saying something about a French scientist working there. Maybe it was Dr. DePaul. Yes – that’s it, Dr. Andre DePaul. He was suppose to be at the port in Algiers to meet the ship and escort the cargo back to Reggane.” Finally, the gunman says one more thing of note to Lincoln. When pushed about the Red Sickle, the gunman leans in and whispers – as if scared – and says, “I don’t really know why, but the big boss – Santin [Yuchenko] – he always wore a full ski mask and gloves. We always wondered if he was like Tashika…you know, deformed or whatever. But none of us ever got close enough to find out.”
  • The Department B debrief is pretty rough. First off, flights out of Europe are cancelled for a couple days while authorities investigate the train explosion and the attempted theft of materials at Hamburg. During this time the group is contacted once by Shepherd. He checks in on you, but doesn’t address any mission specifics, even on a secure line. He’s obviously concerned that authorities are eavesdropping on transmissions because of the terrorist attack. However, it’s obvious that Shepherd is stressed and he sounds very tired.
  • When the group returns to Atlanta a few days later, they are met at the airport by Shepherd. He escorts them to the DHS office in Atlanta and to the Department B secret basement facility. Then an extensive debrief begins. He seems even more haggard and tired than usual. And the tell-tale smell of alcohol is more obvious than even before.
  • For the most part, Shepherd just listens, but when the group presents leads and information, he immediately leaves the room and tells the group that he’s passing it to Department B’s intel support. It’s clear to the group that the mission went well beyond what Department B had expected, and Shepherd even admits as much. He actually apologizes to the group and admits that Department B had underestimated the threat and poorly resourced the group (both in regards to finances and information). However, he says that this thread of Red Sickle and its ties to North Korea (the email reference to Yongbyon), Pakistan (again, the fact that the email is from .pk – or Pakistan’s country code), South Korea (Hanjin Shipping as a front company), Russia and the former Soviet Union (Red Sickle), and Algeria (destination for the ship) has become Department B’s number one priority. While it is possible that by interrupting the shipment, the group has successfully thwarted Red Sickle’s attempt to gain nuclear material, the fact is apparently Red Sickle is involved with a number of nuclear powers.
  • Here is the result of Department B’s intelligence unit’s investigation into the information you provide:
  • Department B is able to dig up a little information about the Israeli agents you met in Russia. They are Mossad operatives who operate in Russia, conducting nuclear-related human intelligence. They are both ethnic Persians and are used by the Mossad because of their ability to pose as Iranians. Their names are Javad Akbari and Kamal Jalili. They are associated with an Israeli front company called Iran Air.
    The intel guys are unsure of the exact purpose of the worldwide nuclear test map. Here is the map, if you’re interested.
  • A quick investigation of the geo-coordinates of the three locations from the laptop indicate they are all continuity of government or command and control facilities.
  • Raven Rock Mountain Complex
    The Raven Rock Mountain Complex (RRMC ) is a United States government facility on Raven Rock, a mountain in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania. It is located in Liberty Township, Adams County, about 14 km (8.7 mi) east of Waynesboro, Pennsylvania, and 10 km (6.2 mi) north-northeast of Camp David, Maryland. It is also called the Raven Rock Military Complex, or simply Site R . Other designations and nicknames include “The Rock”, NMCC-R (National Military Command Center Reservation), ANMCC (Alternate National Military Command Center), AJCC (Alternate Joint Communications Center), “Backup Pentagon”, or “Site RT”; the latter refers to the vast array of communication towers and equipment atop the mountain. Colloquially, the facility is known as an “underground Pentagon”. The facility runs more than 38 communications systems for its users. The Defense Information Systems Agency computer operations staff provides computer services to the National Command Authority, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Office of the Secretary of Defense and other United States Department of Defense agencies. Its largest tenant is the Defense Threat Reduction Agency. RRMC also houses the emergency operations centers for the Army, Navy and Air Force.
  • Sentralanlegget
    Sentralanlegget (English translation: The Central Facility) is the war headquarter of the Norwegian government. The facility is located in Hole municipality in Buskerud County, and designed as an underground shelter in the west side of the mountain Kongens utsikt. The purpose of this is to avoid a direct hit from a nuclear missile from the east.
  • Mount Yamantau
    Mount Yamantau (Russian: гора Ямантау) is in the Ural Mountains, Bashkortostan, Russia. The name means bad (evil) mountain in the Bashkir language (Яман тау). It is also known as Mount Yamantaw. It stands at 1,640 metres (5,381 ft) and is the highest mountain in the southern Urals. Along with Kosvinsky Mountain (600 km to the north), it is suspected by the United States of being a large secret nuclear facility and/or bunker.[ The closed military town of Mezhgorye is situated nearby. As late as 2003, Yamantaw was not yet fully operational.
Mission 002: Operation DIRTY RAIL [Session 10]

Mission 002
Operation DIRTY RAIL
Session 10
Session Date: 2 February
Players: Brad, Braon, Lenora, Lex, TJ

Location: Port of Hamburg
Game Date: 4 August
Game Time: 0700

  • A firefight erupts. Lincoln, who had actually been at the Hanjin administrative office, begins to make his way to the quay. He notices three tractor trailer trucks with unusual cargos – probably nuclear material – also making their way to the quay. He finds a forklift and gives chance.
  • The group engages the four gunmen and quickly gains the upper hand. The three semis arrive in the middle of the firefight. Eventually two of the drivers are killed and one of the semis is blown up.
  • One of the semi-drivers and one of the gunmen are captured – the rest are killed.
  • At the end of the fight, while Lincoln and Marcus are searching the shift, a strange wind blows past them. They look back and see a strange, semi-transparent, faintly humanoid shape.
  • Suddenly a man matching the description of Tashika Katruta (a member of Red Sickle) appears in one of the semis with Jack. A fight ensues and Tashika is eventually killed by gunfire from other members of TRU Echo.
  • German police arrive to help clean up the mess and investigate what has happened. They reveal that a terrorist attack occurred on the train that was carrying the nuclear material. The attack leveled the small town of Gorleben, killing tens of thousands of people.
Mission 002: Operation DIRTY RAIL [Session 9]

Mission 002
Operation DIRTY RAIL
Session 9
Session Date: 5 October
Players: Brad, Braon, Lenora, Lex

Location: Red Sickle Training Camp, western Russia (near the border with Belarus)
Game Date: 3 August
Game Time: 2300

  • The group flees from the Red Sickle training camp in their stolen helicopter. They quickly go to the chicken farm, grab Martin and their gear, and then head for the nearest airport.
  • They arrive at the airport in nearby Smolensk. They convince the airport’s director of operations to trade their stolen helicopter for a ride on a small private airplane. The group leaves for Germany in an attempt to stop the runaway train carrying nuclear materials.
  • During the flight, Martin is able to successfully crack into the extremely well protected and secure laptop. He finds the following information:
  • Email: From Korea contact to Red Sickle. Email is from email address: Red Sickle, rendezvous with others and transfer materials to Hanjin Shipping at the Port of Hamburg.
  • Text document with the following:
  • Raven Rock Mountain Complex:
  • 39.734,-77.419
  • Sentralanlegget
  • 60.080278,10.341944
  • Mount Yamantau
  • 54.255,58.102
  • Rather than try to intercept the train, the group decides to go to the port of Hamburg and investigate the lead from the email.
  • The group also makes contact with Interpol and speaks with a German liaison with Interpol names Niklas Kaufman. Niklas agrees to have authorities meet the group at the port of Hambug.
  • Adrian is able to convince the pilot to take them to Hamburg. There they take a taxi to the port and find the Hanjin shipping terminal.
  • Once the group arrives at the port, they see that the Hanjin Ottawa in at the quay and is being uploaded with shipping containers. The group speaks briefly with a harbormaster, trying to convince him that something is going on with the ship. It becomes clear that the harbormaster is in on Red Sickle’s plan, and he is able to alert a Red Sickle team on the ship.
  • Four armed thugs emerge from the ship and aim submachine guns at the group.
Mission 002: Operation DIRTY RAIL [Session 8]

Mission 002
Operation DIRTY RAIL
Session 8
Session Date: 21 September
Players: Brad, Braon, Lenora, Lex, TJ

Location: Red Sickle Training Camp, western Russia (near the border with Belarus)
Game Date: 3 August
Game Time: 2300

  • The group assaults the Red Sickle compound while Martin orchestrates power outages and provides tactical guidance based on eavesdropping on Red Sickle’s communications.
  • During the raid, the group is able to locate computer and communications gear. They steal a laptop, blow up the majority of the training airfield at the camp, kill a few Red Sickle trainees, and escape in a helicopter.
  • They were also able to find a stash of hardcopy materials referencing a train that was carrying nuclear materials from France to Germany. The materials included:
Mission 002: Operation DIRTY RAIL [session 7]

Mission 002
Operation DIRTY RAIL
Session 7

7 September 2011

Players: Brad, Braon, Lenora, Lex

Location: Moscow, Russia.

Date: 2 August

Time: 1000

*Jack and Adrian return to the apartment and the group decides to call Shepherd and ask him if Department B could arrange for Mikel’s family to be brought to the States.

  • The group begins investigates possible locations in the area where Mikel mentioned for the the Vympel camp. They come across what appears to be a military camp. Martin hacks into classified satellite imagery data holdings and is able to acquire more detailed imagery; however, he knows that his hacking is detected.
  • The group is able to identify the basic security for the compound, and they learn that their is a mock airfield (probably for anti-terrorism training) and a bivouac compound.
  • Jack and Adrian return to Mikel’s apartment. They tell him they were able to arrange passage to the States and ask for his help in setting them up with a contact who can provide illicit arms (grenades, AK-47s, etc). Mikel tells the group he will coordinate a meeting with an arms dealer named Alexander Rasputin at 2100 at a nearby cafe called the Vogue.
  • At about 1900, the group leaves the apartment. Just as they’re leaving, an explosion rips through Mikel’s apartment. Lincoln goes to the group’s apartment to gather their stuff, while Jack and Marcus tend to wounded in the apartment complex. Once paramedics arrive, Jack and Marcus return to the group and they leave for the Vogue.
  • The group arrives at the Vogue, has dinner, and waits for Alexander. Soon Alexander arrives. The meeting is brief and a little tense, as Alexander has heard about what happened to Mikel.
  • He has most of what the group wants, but they spend almost all of their remaining cash on the gear.
  • As soon as the meeting is over, the group leaves for the Vympel camp, which is in extreme western Russia. The cross-country drive takes about 7 hours. The group arrives in the area at 0500 on 3 August.
  • The group is able to identify an old abandoned chicken farm near the training camp. Martin sets base their, and starts to build a communications intercept device. He is able to cobble together a basic device that enables him to detect nearby active frequencies and listen to voice communications if they aren’t encrypted. He learns that most of the people at the compound communicate via push-to-talk handsets operating in the high frequency range. He sets up a basic machine translation protocol for the intercepted communications and is able to learn that most of the conversations are from someone identifying himself as Sickle 1 directing others (at least twenty men, all with call signs that consist of the word “Red”) to take up their posts. It’s clear that Sickle 1 is in charge of security for the compound. Martin also detects a microwave signal operating in the mid 2GHz range. The signal is encrypted, so Martin shifts his focus to decrypting the signal. He is able to learn that it is transmitting data vice voice communications. The data is GPS locational information. When Martin plots the locations on a hardcopy atlas, he learns that it plots to Kassel, Germany and is traveling northwest at a slow rate of speed. He is able to overlay the GPS locations on a rail line.
  • Marcus sneaks off into the woods under the dark of night to see if he can make out the security status of the compound. Marcus stays at his position all day. He has a good line of sight to one of the watch towers that surrounds the compound. The tower only has one guard at a time. The guards switch out every three hours. Most of the guards don’t seem overly vigilant.
  • Lincoln and Jack find a hiding spot near the intersection of the main road and the access road leading to the training camp. They watch for any vehicles arriving or leaving the camp. No vehicles arrive or depart the compound throughout the entire day.
  • The group rendezvous at the chicken farm that night. Martin and Marcus brief the rest of the group on what they learned. Jack remembers reading a news story recently about a controversial train traveling from France to Germany. The train carries spent German nuclear fuel that had been processed at a facility in France. After processing, the fuel is transferred to a holding location in Germany. It seems very likely this is the train being tracked by GPS.
  • Adrian drives to a nearby city so she can get a cell signal. She calls Shepherd and informs him that the group believes the train that is targeted for destruction is in Germany.
  • When she returns, the group splits up. Martin travels down the main road and sets up position along the power line that feeds the compound. HE’s planning to simulate rolling power blackouts. Meanwhile the rest of the group is planning to sneak into the compound. They travel through the woods south of the camp and take up position on its southeastern perimeter.
Mission 002: Operation DIRTY RAIL [session 6]

Mission 002 Operation DIRTY RAIL

Session 6

10 August 2011

Players: Brad, Braon, Lenora, Lex, TJ

Location: Moscow, Russia.

Date: 1 August

Time: 1300

  • The group returns the to hotel.  After a thorough check, the group determines the room is clean of eavesdropping devices and no one has been in the room since they were last present.
  • Lincoln takes responsibility for securing the room and keeping watch, Jack works with Martin to scan Sven’s fingerprint from Adrian’s camera.  Jack also stores Sven’s blood sample.
  • Martin conducts some internet searches for Mikel Babanin’s alias (Alexander Rugov).  The search reveals a few other people, but no one who matches the age or other demographics for Mikel.  
  • Marcus – with some assistance from Lincoln and Adrian – watches the Karma Bar from the room via binoculars.  (I’m going to assume that Lincoln and Adrian occasionally assist Marcus and have them roll assisting perception checks).
  • Martin calls Sophia and asks her to bring along some friends for their date.
  • Martin and Jack leave for their date with Sophia and her friends.  They meet up at a nearby Coyote Ugly. Sophia introduces Jack and Martin to her friends, which includes a woman named Natalia. Natalia and Jack hit it off. Throughout the night, Martin is able to learn that Sophia has keys to the Karma Bar and can access the bar at any time.
  • Marcus and Lincoln notice something unusual on the street below by the Karma Bar.  The two Middle Eastern men they saw in the Karma Bar earlier show back up.  However, they don’t go inside the bar.  Instead, it appears they take up positions on the street where they can monitor the bar.  One of the men stands across the street from the bar entrance and the other stands a few blocks way from the entrance.  They continually scan the area.  On one occasion, the man down a few blocks from the Karma Bar glances up toward the group’s hotel room.  It isn’t clear if he actually saw Marcus and the others watching out the window.
  • Adrian quickly helps Lincoln with a disguise and then Lincoln goes down to the street to check out the bar.
  • Adrian and Marcus search around and find an empty hotel room a couple floors up. Adrian breaks into the room and they continue their surveillance; however, they notice the Middle Eastern man across from the bar is gone.
  • When Lincoln gets down to the street, he also notices the man is missing. A quick walk around the bar reveals there is a back entrance.
  • Lincoln returns to the hotel and goes to the group’s original room. When he gets there, he gets a bad feeling about the room and texts Marcus and Adrian. Marcus comes down and they enter the room together only to find it has been ransacked.
  • Marcus begins investigating if anything has been taken, if any surveillance equipment was set up in the room, and what of their equipment has been tampered with.
  • Lincoln goes downstairs to the lobby and speaks with a receptionist. The receptionist reveals a Middle Eastern man just left the hotel.
  • Adrian, still watching the street from the hotel room she and Marcus broke in to, sees the Middle Eastern man return to the street, meet up with his companion, and they begin walking down the street away from the hotel. Adrian quickly heads downstairs to meet up with Marcus and Lincoln.
  • Adrian and Lincoln meet in the stairwell. They decide Adrian should chase the men while Lincoln goes to the room to get Marcus.
  • When Lincoln gets to the room, Marcus tells Lincoln he needs to finish his investigation. Lincoln leaves the room in order to assist Adrian in the chase.
  • Adrian spots the men on the streets and tracks them down. Lincoln is not far behind and eventually joins up with her.
  • Once again, member of the group make there way into Moscow’s extensive metro system, as the two Middle Eastern men duck inside a metro stop in an attempt to get away from their pursuers.
  • Adrian and Lincoln give chase, jumping over the entry gates into the metro system and drawing looks from the pedestrians waiting for the train.
  • Once on-board, an uneasy stalemate develops between the Middle Eastern men and Adrian and Lincoln. Adrian realizes the men are Israeli – possibly Mossad – and begins to wonder what their role here is, though she assumes they must know something about Mikel.
  • They avoid her inquires; instead, they tell Lincoln and Adrian that they should steer clear of the Israelis. The confrontation ends with some tension, as Lincoln promises the next meeting might be a little rougher.
  • By the time Lincoln and Adrian return to the hotel room, Marcus has finished his investigation and Martin and Jack have returned from their date. During his investigation, Marcus discovered nothing had been stolen, but Martin’s computer had been tampered with.
  • Martin checks out his computer. He learns that someone tried – and failed – to defeat his password encryption. However, he also notices that someone plugged an external drive of some sort into one of his USB ports.
  • At this point, it’s late in the night and the group decides it would be best to find an alternate location to stay. They go to a nearby low-rent efficiency apartment complex called Gorbyuro – the same complex where Mikel lives.
  • The pay for an apartment, set up a camera to monitor Mikel’s apartment, and the get some much needed rest.
  • The next morning Adrian, Marcus, and Jack go to speak with Mikel, while Lincoln and Martin keep watch from their apartment.
  • The meeting with Mikel goes well at first – he allows them to come in and serves them breakfast while hearing out what information they need. When the trio enters the apartment, they see Mikel’s family – presumably father, daughter-in-law, and two grandchildren. During the course of the conversation, the group learns Mikel’s son was a member of the Russian army and was killed in Chechnya.
  • Mikel provides the group a little information up front – that he is familiar with the rogue Spetsnaz group, he knows its members, and their general whereabouts. He agrees to tell the group all that he knows for $5000 and the safe relocation of his family to the US.
  • The group eventually agrees to these terms (only after Marcus insults and angers Mikel). Mikel reveals the group was formerly part of the Vympel (also known as Vega or Directorate B) group within the Federal Security Service (FSB).
  • The exact lineage of Vympel is not known but the unit was formed in 1981, as a dedicated spetsnaz unit specialized in deep penetration, sabotage, universal direct and covert action, protection of Soviet embassies and espionage cell activation in case of war. Most of the Vympel operatives mastered two or three foreign languages, for they were intended to act in foreign countries, deep behind enemy lines.
  • Vympel quickly gained the reputation of being among the best Soviet special forces units, surpassing its GRU and MVD counterparts. However, after the collapse of the USSR, Vympel was decimated by endless re-organization and re-definition. It passed under the aegis of the Security Ministry before being receded to the MVD (Interior Ministry). However, the MVD had no use for such a unit. The bulk of the Vympel operatives could not stand the humiliation of being subordinated to the police, and duly resigned: of 278 officers, only 57 chose to remain within the MVD. The unit was re-named “Vega.”
  • In 1995, the FSB Special Operations Center (TsSN FSB) was granted control over Vympel. The group regained its original name and was reintegrated into the Intelligence Service structures. The emphasis shifted from covert and clandestine sabotage operations to counter-terrorism and nuclear safety enforcement. Vympel operatives undergo special training related to improvised or special explosive devices, permitting them to use “terrorist-like” tactics to carry out their operations. Physical training includes close hand combat, parachute training, diving, underwater combat techniques, climbing, and alpine rope techniques. Regional groups of Vympel were deployed in cities with especially important nuclear facilities.
  • Vympel (i.e. the Directorate “B” of the TsSN FSB) is still a classified and secretive unit. It took part in Russia’s Chechen campaigns and in storming of the Supreme Soviet building during the 1993 Russian constitutional crisis. Little is known about its current operations and activities, the exception being the capture of the Chechen militant leader Salman Raduyev in March 2000 and the assault on the school in Beslan in September 2004.
  • Mikel explains the rogue group TRU Echo is looking for was specifically tasked with operating as a Red Team, testing the security of Russian nuclear sites. The rogue team quit Vympel in the years following the fall of the Soviet Union. He knows of six members who he believes are still active within the rogue element. These members include:
  • Tashika Katruta. A man of Kazakh origins, noted for his skill at tracking and outdoor survival.
  • Khal Orlov. This unassuming fellow has the “face of a choirboy” but excels at the most brutal forms of hand-to-hand combat. Orlov has a knack for silent movement.
  • Pushkin Duchov. Pushkin is a native Russian. He serves as the group’s expert on electronics, explosives and other technological items. He never underwent the full course of Vympel training.
  • Natalia Karnof. Natalia came from the Soviet Far East, and seemed almost Oriental in appearance. She speaks fluent Chinese, and spent the years 1989-1991 on liaison with the embassy in the People’s Republic of China. Karnof knows numerous other languages as well and “has a touch” with foreign cultures.
  • Michenko Petro. Petro is an excellent marksman, with a passion for things military. He shuns the company of others.
  • Santin Yuchenko. Yuchenko serves as the leader of the cell. He has a taste for cruelty. He wears a drooping mustache.
  • Mikel tells the group he doesn’t know exactly where the rogue group’s base is, but he believes they operate out of an old abandoned special forces camp southwest of Moscow along the border with Belarus in the Smolenskaya Oblast’.
Mission 002: Operation DIRTY RAIL [session 5]

Mission 002 Operation DIRTY RAIL

Session 5

27 July 2011

Players: Brad, Braon, Lenora, Lex, TJ

Location: Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations directorate, Special Agent in Charge Principle Field Office – Atlanta, GA.
Date: 27 July 2011
Time: 0800

  • After over a month of a half of down time following their successful completion of Operation UMBRA, the group receives letters in the mail from Department B instructing them to return to the DHS field office in Atlanta on the morning of 27 July.
  • The group assembles and are once again given a mission by Gregory Shepherd.
  • Shepherd gives the group another envelope. This mission, code named Operation DIRTY RAIL, is concerned with identifying a rogue element of former Russian Spetsnaz – or special forces – before they can destroy an unidentified high value rail target.
  • During debriefs with UMBRA, she reveals to Department B that she knows a former Russian army colonel who was a hgh ranking member of one of Russia’s spetsnaz groups called Alpha Group.
  • She provides what little information she knows: his name is Mikel Babanin, he is retired from the army, he probably lives in Moscow, and he use to frequent (and perhaps still does) a bar called the Karma Bar, which is in downtown Moscow.
  • The group spends a little while making their plans and putting together travel arrangements before Adrian approaches Carla about the logistics. As usual, Carla seems a little reluctant, but with some persuasion from Adrian she agrees to help with all TRU Echo’s requests.
  • Adrian stays with Carla after the rest of the group leaves and chats the secretary up, trying to learn more about her.
  • Though slow to provide personal information at first, Carla eventually reveals that she is a window who lives alone with her two cats (Ferdinand and Isabella), she is a workaholic, and her gruff demeanor is a result of the fact that she truly cares for the Department B and TRU agents. She feels a sense of responsibility for them. She is reluctant to agree to send a lot of weaponry with TRU units, because she feels the excess weaponry leads to unnecessary violence. Finally, she reveals that her husband was a former Department B agent and was killed in the line of duty.
  • It takes about three days for Carla to make the logistical arrangements for shipment of the group’s equipment to Moscow and creation of new identification papers.
  • Meanwhile, Adrian sets to work developing completely new looks for every member of TRU Echo.
  • About midday on July 31, the group leaves from Atlanta for Moscow. They arrive on the morning of August 1.

Date: 1 August 2011

Time: 1000

  • The group arrives at Moscow’s international airport; Jack and Adrian each rent a small compact car (Lada Kalina) while Lincoln picks up the groups equipment at the cargo terminal.
  • The group decides to find a hotel near the Karma Bar. They find a hotel called the Savoy hotel, which is across the street from the bar.
  • The group carefully searches the room and eventually determines the phone is setup so that it can easily be tapped.
  • Martin spends a little time trying to dig up some info on Mikel. He finds a little information about the former colonel, mostly from old article about military exercises. He also finds a picture of the colonel. Most surprising, however, is that he discovers the colonel apparently died three years ago.
  • With few other leads, the group decides to go to the Karma Bar for lunch.
  • The bar is mostly empty. It’s decor gives it the initial impression of elegance, but a closer inspection reveals this is just superficial. The place smells of smoke – a combination of pipe, cigar, and shisha. It also smells of alcohol, and especially vodka. The lunch crowd is small – only three tables are occupied. At two tables are groups of caucasian, probably Russians. At a third table is a pair of Middle Eastern men, who are eating and sharing a hooka pipe.
  • The bartender is an older man whose demeanor suggests a familiarity with the bar. Also behind the bar is an attractive caucasian young woman with blonde hair and blue eyes.
  • Martin strikes up a conversation with the girl, whose name he learns is Sophia.
  • The rest of the group begins eating their lunch and Marcus begins to drink. Despite the early hour, he shows no restraint in ordering drink after drink.
  • While Martin continues chatting with Sophia, Adrian begins talking with a tall, thin blonde hair man from one of the tables. He introduces himself as Sven. He offers to show her around town and gives Adrian his cell number. She also convinces him to take a picture of the group. Once he’s done, she’s careful not to smudge his fingerprints.
  • After lunch the group leaves, taking a round-about route to their hotel. After a few minutes, they realize they are being followed by Sven and his Russian friends.
  • The group decides to try to confront Sven, but on their own terms. They go to a metro station and get on a metro. Sven and his companions continue to follow TRU Echo and they get on a different metro car.
  • A couple stops later, the group gets off the train at the same time Sven and his friends do. An awkward standoff ensues in which the group confronts Sven about followed them – specifically Adrian. At first Sven denies it, but eventually the confrontation escalates.
  • When another train arrives at the station, Sven and his buddies jump on board, but they are followed by TRU Echo. The confrontation continues and Jack – eager to get some answers – actually strikes Sven in the nose with his cain. One of Sven’s buddies reacts by going for his gun, but Martin is able to shoot the gun from his hand.
  • At this point, Sven and his buddies agree to talk, so the group escorts them to a large park, where they can have a little more privacy. At the park, Sven admits that he actually works for “mother Russia.” The group, seeing an opportunity, explains that they are trying to stop a possible terrorist attack and they need to find Mikel Babanin.
  • Sven says that Babinin has gone into hiding and now uses the alias Alexander Rugov. He still frequents the Karma Bar, which is why Sven was there – mother Russia still wants to keep an eye on Mikel (Alexander). He also tells the group that Mikel lives at the Gorbyuro Apartments, in apartment 519.
  • Though the group suggests working further together, Sven declines, saying that they are done talking, and he and his friends leave.
  • TRU Echo returns to the Savoy Hotel, carefully checks their room and determines it’s clean, Jack works on getting Sven’s print and a sample of his blood, and Lincoln begins preparations for setting up surveillance on the Karma Bar while also maintaining security on the room.
Mission 002: Operation DIRTY RAIL



Assignment: Identify Spetsnaz group targeting high value rail

Target: Mikel Babanin
Former Colonel in the Former Soviet Union and Russian Armies, high ranking member of Alfa Group.
Currently believed to live in Moscow.
Has worked with UMBRA occasionally in the past.

Known Associated Location: Karma Bar, Moscow, Russia


Mission 001: Operation UMBRA [Session 4]

Session 4

14 July 2011

Players: Brad, Braon, Lenora, Lex, TJ

Location: Prague, Czech Republic

Date: 3 June 2011
Time: 1300

  • Marcus and Adrian drive around town, waiting for a call from Jack and Lincoln to tell them where to rendezvous.  In the meantime, Marcus begins questioning Orlando Thomas.  At first Thomas is reluctant to respond, but eventually he begins to give in – especially when Adrian indicates she’s willing to use her knife to extract some information.  He reveals only limited information until the group arrives at the warehouse, ties him up, and begins a more thorough interrogation.
  • Meanwhile, Lincoln and Jack rendezvous at an internet cafe near the hostel where they had been staying.  They pick up Martin, but just as they’re leaving, they notice a story in the local news which indicates Czech officials have requested the assistance of the FBI in tracking down “the suspected American terrorists” involved in the recent high profile incidents in Prague.
  • When Lincoln, Jack, and Martin arrive at the warehouse, they set to work on the interrogation.  The bartender from Gallerie NoD is kept in a separate room from Orlando.
  • Martin doesn’t play much of a role in the interrogation; instead, he continues to look for more information about the FBI working with local authorities.
  • In general, Marcus tries to play on the shared ties between Orlando and himself, while Jack tends to Orlando’s wounds.  However, when Orlando proves somewhat reluctant to provide more information, Adrian and Lincoln begin to threat Orlando with bodily harm.
  • Eventually Thomas admits:
  • That he has worked for the KGB and currently works for the SVR (Russian Foreign Intel Service) as a double agent, feeding them info on US operations in Prague and the Czech Republic;
  • UMBRA, who is also a spy working for Russia, was the one who originally turned him.
  • Orlando was assigned to work for the US State Dept in Prague for years, where he built a close and profitable working relationship with UMBRA. In recent years he was transferred to a different location.  About a year ago, he was transferred back to Prague. When he tried to re-connect with UMBRA, she avoided him.  
  • About four or five months ago, Stephen Lucas was assigned to work in Prague and make contact with UMBRA.  He was successful and negotiated UMBRA’s defection to the US.  This immediately concerned Orlando, who knew that his status as a double agent was in jeopardy and he’d be in trouble with the US.
  • It was at that point that he set out to kill UMBRA and Stephen Lucas.  He admitted that Damek Polotski and the thugs from Galerie NoD were working for him and that Damek was at the casino to kill UMBRA and Lucas.
  • Thomas also revealed that Lida Novak is also working at the nuclear research institute with UMBRA and as an agent for the Russians.  Thomas is still in communication with her and has used her to track UMBRA up until UMBRA and Lucas went missing recently.
  • Thomas says that in addition to the economic intel UMBRA gets from the research institute she is also interested because the institute focuses on nuclear medical research and UMBRA has serious radiation burns and illness.
  • Thomas doesn’t know how to find Stephen Lucas or UMBRA (if he did he would have killed them)
  • During the interrogation Marcus is angered and kicks Thomas in the mouth.
  • Eventually the group gets together and tries to decide on a course of action. They decide to send this text to Stephen Lucas’ phone:
  • “We arrived in Orlando but realized we made a wrong turn and now we need directions.”
  • A few minutes later they received a reply with the name of an apartment complex in an upscale part of town.  After a couple more text message exchanges, the group also receives what they guess to be the number of the apartment where Lucas is at.
  • The group travels to the apartment, leaving Martin behind to watch Orlando Thomas and the bartender.  
  • When the group arrives they waste no time in going to the apartment, where they find Stephen Lucas waiting. After a couple minutes feeling each other out, Lucas accepts the group’s story and takes them to a bedroom where UMBRA is staying.  She looks old and weak and covered in radiation burns.
  • The group tells her they are there to save her, but she reveals the Koreans have contacted her and are willing to pay her more than the US.  Adrian convinces UMBRA that the US will match her demands.
  • Meanwhile, Jack is searching through the main living room and begins to hear police sirens closing in on the apartment complex.  He warns the rest of the group that the cops may be coming for them.
  • Marcus carries UMBRA, while Adrian grabs the woman’s walker.  Stephen Lucas goes with them as they head for a stairwell.  Meanwhile, Jack and Lincoln set a fire so that the building’s fire alarm will go off.
  • The group races down the stairwell and heads to the building’s main foyer, where they plan to take a different stairwell to the apartments’ underground garage and grab Stephen Lucas’ car.
  • When they arrive in the foyer they see a group of about 15 – 20 people trying to escape the building, but they also see Damek Polotski and a couple of thugs wielding AK-47s.  The thugs open up on the group, mowing down bystanders in the process.  Everyone in the group gets hit, to include Marcus and Adrian who aren’t wearing bulletproof vests.
  • The group abandons their plan and instead heads for the nearest fire escape door.  Lincoln lays down cover fire while most of the group escapes.  
  • The thugs follow the group out of the building and ends up dealing a near fatal wound to Lucas. Lincoln finally drops Damek with a few well placed shots.
  • The group runs out to the street and is able to get the attention of some local cops and direct them to the thugs.  Jack bravely goes back for Stephen Lucas, putting himself in danger as he tries to evade the semi-automatic fire from one of the thugs.  
  • The gunfight finally ends when the thugs run away from the cops.  The group takes the opportunity to flee to the Renault they took from Orlando Thomas.
  • They head back to the warehouse, and Jack and Marcus do an excellent job of patching up everyone’s wounds.  They tie Thomas up and leave him in the warehouse.  
  • The group blindfolds the bartender and drops him off in a different part of town and then drops off a very wounded but stable Stephen Lucas at the US Embassy.  Then they leave for Estonia.
  • This information is drawn from an email exchange after the session. During the drive to Estonia, the group asks UMBRA a few questions:

In general, she seems a little reluctant to delve into specifics with the group, though she does seem drawn to Adrian – perhaps because she sees some of herself within Adrian. She is also genuinely thankful to Jack for stitching her up after the shootout.

So here’s what she tells you:

1. Her background in general.

She was born in Czechoslovakia in the 1960s. She served as an intelligence officer in the KGB and then the SVR. After the fall of the FSU, she began working as an agent, stealing secrets from the nuclear research institute near Prague. She was primarily charged with stealing secrets about nuclear medicine, but she would also report on any other activities underway at the institute.

2. Her ties to Orlando Thomas.

She met Orlando Thomas in the 1990s. At the time she discovered he was a intelligence officer working undercover as a state department employee. She was eventually able to turn him and use him as a source for Russian intelligence. They worked together until 2008. At that time he was reassigned to a different post. By 2011 when he returned to Prague, she had decided to defect.

3. Her role in the KGB and SVR.

She served as an intelligence analyst at first in the KGB and then as an agent in the SVR, collecting on nuclear research issues in the Czech Republic.

4. What she was focused on at the Nuclear Research Institute.

Mostly nuclear medicine but all nuclear research in general to a lesser extent.

5. Why she decided to defect.

She is reluctant to delve into this. She only says, “I’ve given way to much and now it’s time to get something in return.” And adds that her “days of basement work are over.” When she says this, she also mumbles “I think you know what I mean” and sort of gives a wink to Adrian.

6. and why the US (and the Koreans at a minimum) wanted her so bad.

Again she seems reluctant to delve into this too much. She just says, “Well, you know, all that basement work…everyone’s interested. Especially the Koreans. I guess the Americans just want it the most.”

  • When they arrive in Estonia, Lincoln is able to smooth-talk his way with an airline operator for some expensive, but no questions asked airfare.  Within a couple hours the group, along with UMBRA, are in the air headed for the US.
  • Operation: UMBRA accomplished.

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