Birds of a Feather - Chapter 7: Moscow to Uzbekistan on six

Dieter 2002-10-07 17:43:29
"Thanks, Gregor. That sounds like a good idea."

I grab my coat and go for a nice walk, taking great care to notice the rear of the train and the General's car and such.
Dieter 2002-10-07 18:15:35
As Artis steps off the train, the chill (36F) of Autumn in Russia greets him...good thing he brought a warm coat.

Shuffling about the platform are any number of passengers out for a smoke al-fresco. Peddlers selling everything from cabbage to cel phones populate the few free spaces where people aren't already standing.

Towards the engine, crews can be seen unfurling hoses, most likely for refueling the mighty diesel behemoth.

At the back of the train, the General, his "secretary", and guard are seen cohorting with some locals. Taking notice of his actions, Artis sees that the General is signing autographs with the occasional souvenir polaroid being taken by his secretary. The General truly is a dichotomy of character. Moments later, a group of individuals dressed in black with large goon-like accoutrements are seen heading for the General.

Inside, the bar car is teaming with passengers taking shots of vodka to kill the chill before going outside.
Gatac 2002-10-07 19:05:37
Being one of the denizens of said bar, Jessica figures she's still on the job and looks for anything suspicious.

(OOC: Wow, I really am the supreme arbiter of precise expressions.)
Dieter 2002-10-07 20:54:03
The "bar" inside the dining car is little more than a 1 meter long counter built into a corner. The vast selection of beverages range from one type of vodka, one type of whiskey, and a yellowish/brown concoction the bartender calls beer. Only a few people order something "off the menu". Those orders mostly consist of a polite request and a rather large "tip".

The dining car itself can accomedate about 10 people sitting at the counter and perhaps another 20 or so in the small booth-like tables.

Right now, the only occupants of the dining car are the cook, the bartender, a drunk who probably passed out 10 minutes after leaving Moscow, Gavin, and Jessica.
Gatac 2002-10-07 21:06:51
Jess walks over to Gavin, then attempts to sneak some words over to him.

"New plan ?"
Gatac 2002-10-08 07:35:57
"Aye, let's. I say we take a look outside, keep an eye on the oaf. That's the General, mind you," he adds, seeing a jab at Artis begin to form on Jessica's brow. "Even if nothing strange happens, I'm up for some fresh air."
Dieter 2002-10-08 16:24:35
Gavin and Jessica step outside, the cold Russian evening also bidding them a chilly zdrastvuytye.

They see Artis eyeing the General and his seemingly ever-growing entourage. The General greets them all and escorts them over to his car, first showing them his helicopter.

(OOC: Yeah, I forgot to include the heliport on drawing I did. It is behind the General's car, in front of the caboose.)
Gatac 2002-10-08 17:55:26
Looking at Artis, Jess remembers what she went to the bar for and bows to Gavin.

"What in the name of all that is good and holy made you people decide to let Artis watch the General ? I'd feel safer if we'd lock him up in the bathroom for the rest of the mission. Who let this psycho at it ?"
Dieter 2002-10-08 18:19:13
As Jess chides Gavin, a babushka...presumably out of nowhere particular, tugs on Gavin's coat. She speaks in Russian then in very broken English.

"I have hats. You like hats? I give you good price!"
Dieter 2002-10-08 19:39:22
7:22pm, Samara local time

The train steams off towards Orsk, on schedule. Gregor manages to find his contact and make it back to the train just as it is pulling out. He finds the team plotting inside the cabin.

"Hello friends. I come bearing gifts."

Gregor manages to find just about everything requested, save the thermal imager

"A thermal imager pun intended, a hot commodity in these parts. Most of the ones circulating in the black market are bought by Central Asian warlords. Now, I don't know what you're planning, but if it involves ruining the General's business trip...count me in."
Dieter 2002-10-14 17:24:33
Just as the team were deciding how they were to execute their plan...things go awry.

Bored of the conversation, Jess looks out the window at desolate yet serene landscape of a cold night in southern Russia. Just as she was about to address the team with her usual "Ok...already, let's just do something", out the corner of her right eye Jess sees a flash of orange light followed a millisecond later by the sound of twisted metal and a violent lurch in the team's train cabin.

Everyone in the cabin is thrown to and fro and the sound of squealing breaks, crashing metal and associated terror fills the immediate area.

Artis clutches on for dear life to the overhead luggage rack as Gavin assumes the position and covers his head. In the ensuing calamity, one the team's duffle bags falls from the aforementioned luggage rack and clocks Harry in the head, knocking him out. Jess tries to grab on to something solid, but is immediately tossed into the compartment wall.
Dieter 2002-10-14 22:56:02
"Holy crap!"

I grab my stuff and ask Jess to "see if Harry's all right", then try to get out of the train car to see what's going on. I turn on our little communicator thingy so I can describe what's out there.
Dieter 2002-10-14 23:21:28
Jess recomposes herself and heads over to Harry. Aside from the large lump on his frontal lobe and an even larger headache to come, he'll probably be OK.

Hearing from Jess that the explosion came from towards the back of the train, Artis crawls out of the car to appraise the situation. The task will be easy since it appears every car beyond the one he's in was blown off the tracks. It looks like the engineer managed to blow the emergency brakes with the rest of the train (ie. the team's car and up) stopping about .5km from the point of impact. At the end of an s-bend in the tracks, he can clearly make out the outline of the rest of the train. The car that previously went behind the one he's in is overturned and on fire.

His ears still ringing from the violent impact and overall hysteria, Artis can also vaguely make out the chatter of small arms and automatic weapons fire in the distance. What he doesn't see is surmised by the multiple muzzle flashes which dot the skyline like fireflies.
Dieter 2002-10-15 06:18:10
Gavin readjusts his scally cap and hops out of the train into the frosty night, sidearm at the ready. He immediately turns his trained eyes and ears on figuring out where the direction and volume of the gunfire.
Dieter 2002-10-15 15:46:21
Gavin joins Artis at the back of the passenger car. There's definitely a gunfight going on over yonder. By Gavin's estimates, there's probably at least a dozen seperate muzzle flashes.

Without getting closer, it's hard to tell anything else from this distance.
Dieter 2002-10-15 17:06:42
"I'm thinking that we should steal the chopper and get the hell away from this firefight... barring that, we hole up in our cabin until these turkeys kill each other off."
Dieter 2002-10-16 15:34:37
Gavin looks at Artis and ponders his plan with scrutiny.

"...we better call the Home Office just to be sure."

At this point, Jess and the battered gumshoe Harry step out for a look of their own. Harry tries to adjust his hat to cover up the ever-growing lump on his forehead as Jess chimes in just as Gavin finished his remark.

"What the...??? Well, one good thing about this...for once we didn't cause it. Art, I think Nightengale should know about this."

Artis nods and pulls out his phone.

"Yeah...and by the time we get orders, the number of gun-toting maniacs down there should have thinned out at least a bit."

Going through the usual barrage of passwords and proxy numbers, the call finally reaches Nightengale.

"Yes. What do you have to report?"
Dieter 2002-10-17 17:13:34
"Um... the train we're in was attacked. The cars behind ours were separated and they're under attack about a quarter-mile or so from our position. General Alexander Koskov and some Uzbekestanis were in those cars. We need to know if we should intervene, and barring that, how we're going to get to Tashkent now."
Dieter 2002-10-17 17:29:10
Philpott sighs slightly then pauses for a long second.

"Indeed. I'm now pulling up the high orbit recon satellite for Central Asia. Relaying the images to your PDA. As for Koskov and the Uzbekistanis, the meeting is legitimate. Our contacts in Moscow confirm that Koskov was negotiating an arms contract with them. The main question is who would be so bold as to attack him and the delegation. Find out who is behind this and report back. Good luck. Nightengale out."
Dieter 2002-10-17 19:42:34
Artis pans with binoculars across the immediate foreground and firefight. From this distance, it's hard to say who is fighting with who and to which side the battle is leaning towards.

One lone figure is seen running towards the team, illuminated by the firey glow of the flaming passenger car.