Thursday, 21 November 2013

After Action Report - (S)Entries - Part Five

Hello again and welcome to the fifth (and final) part of the NBA Intro game (S)Entries. This last weekend, SUN 17 NOV 13 we had Joseph, Omar and Leslie.

More Serbian gangsters were beaten and abducted and the team found out a little bit more about the threat they faced. I have diverged significantly from the adventure in the Core Rules at this point and so the Spoiler Warning is not in place for this session but it will be reintroduced next session when the agents begin The Zalozhniy Quartet.

Sun, 28 JUL 2013
18:50 (GMT+1)
Gyasi tells the team that the bar that Knezevic is heading to is called “они и ми” (“Them and Us” in Serbian) and is located near the Sacred Heart Cathedral on Marsala Tita. Gyasi knows it from his own investigations here in Sarajevo and tells the team that it is a known hangout for the Serbian Zemun Clan here in Bosnia.

Gyasi describes the bar layout. The customer entrance is at the front and at the rear are double doors allowing deliveries, a rear entrance along with access to a cellar for barrels and other storage. There are two floors, upstairs is accessed by a beautiful wrought iron spiral staircase and consists of the landlord's quarters, but there are a couple of spare rooms upstairs used by visitors. The bar is a long L-shape downstairs made of dark oak and there are a number of circular tables taking up the main floor. Behind the bar and it's mix of spirits is a large mirror, dusty and smeared with the accumulated dregs of alcoholic beverages. The unisex toilet is to the rear next to the bar. Opposite the bar the walls of the bar are plastered with pictures of rough looking men in Serbian military uniforms, ill fitting suits or sportswear. It's a cosy little place with little space for manoeuvre.

The team split up, Ron is to wait over the road at a bar opposite nursing a pint and listening in, ready to provide backup or vehicle support if necessary. Angela and Evelyn will go in using the “lost tourist” method and distract the patrons with a tale about a broken down car. Gyasi will sneak in unobserved whilst this takes place. Luc will cover the rear, prepared to follow Kovacs should he decide to sneak out the back.

The tall wooden double gates are closed and a large blue panel truck is parked close to the alley wall. Green plastic bottle bins flank the rear exit. Luc adds to his dishevelled disguise by pouring some of the remains of the alcohol on his clothing then leans against one of the bottle bins.

Angela and Evelyn dress as tourists. Letting the air out of one of the tyres of the rental car gives them reason to stop off and seek assistance. They enter and note that Knezevic is not downstairs in the bar so they start straight for the bar. They see around 15 people sat around drinking rakia, playing cards and smoking cigarettes. Behind the bar an older man and a younger woman tend to the customers.

Evelyn asks the barman if they have a phone to call for a mechanic to help them out while Angela pretends to be looking up something on her phone (but is in fact sweeping the camera around the bar taking HD video of the patrons). The man behind the bar follows the gist of Google Translate but indicates that there is no phone behind the bar – he does however put a local business phone directory in front of Evelyn before turning back to making the glasses dirtier by rubbing them with a filthy washcloth tucked into his belt.

Whilst Angela and Evelyn are acting as distractions, Gyasi slips in, disguised to prevent Knezevic recognising him, and orders a slivovitz before seating himself as unobtrusively as possible near the front entrance. He pops open a notebook and makes as if to get some work done. Out back Luc, after verifying he is alone, moves towards the back door and notes that it is locked.

Evelyn asks for a Perrier from the bartender and as she takes delivery Knezevic comes downstairs. He has changed his clothes and bound the fingers that Ron broke during the interrogation. He heads to the back of the bar and sits at a table headed by a man that must be Kovacs. Two other men, Mirko Ivanović and Vladislav Petrovic are sat with Kovacs. Evelyn asks bartender where the toilet is located and he indicates the back of bar just next to Kovacs' table.

Angela waits outside the bathroom for Evelyn to finish, surreptitiously recording Kovacs' conversation with Knezevic and pipe it through to Gyasi, Luc and Ron who all speak Serbian (Preparedness). Ron relays the translation back to Angela and Evelyn. Knezevic is saying that he's in danger and needs to be sent somewhere safe to recuperate; Kovacs listens and nodding. Whilst this is happening a muscular looking seems to have taken an interest is Gyasi. He is puffing himself up and eyeballing him closely. Gyasi shuts and puts away his notebook and makes his way to the bar to order another slivovitz.

Out back, Luc attempts to pick the lock (Infiltration). In a moment of random chance he knocks over a bottle on the step which smashes, drawing attention from inside the bar. Kovacs, Knezevic and the other two men on the rear table look over at the back door. Luc drops the picks into his pocket and slumps up against the nearest bottle bin, hoping that if anyone does come out they will only identify a drunken man taking advantage of poorly guarded dregs. Petrovic indicates to the barkeep to toss the keys for the back door over so he can check outside.

Angela fakes an interest in the tattoo on Kovacs' arm and takes a picture of it, standing far enough back to get his face in the picture. Ivanović pulls his jacket aside showing the butt of a pistol tucked into his belt. He shakes his head angrily, indicating to Angela that she needs to back away from his boss. Evelyn tugs her away saying that perhaps they should wait outside for the mechanic and they both head to the front door. Ron is already reacting, heading to the car and starting it, hoping that he won't hear the emergency code they had previously established.

The man who was staring at Gyasi approaches him from behind and grabs him by the left bicep to turn him around. As Gyasi meets his eyes the man curls his lip in a sneer and in a thick Belgrade accent says

“У затвору, ја бих јеби се као кучка.”

Gyasi turns and smiles, fluttering his eyelashes at the Serbian and demurely offers to take him up on that offer (Flirting). The man is somewhat nonplussed at the reaction and stands there looking confused and unsure if his intimidation attempt was perhaps poorly worded.

With the back door now open, Petrovic steps out downstairs and sees Luc propped up against the bottle bin. He eyes him with a mix of opportunity and disgust. Knezevic and Kovacs stand and make their way to the back door and a few other bar patrons take an interest and start shuffling past the tables to make their way outside. Petrovic approaches as if to give the drunk a solid kick so Luc quickly gets to his feet and motions his assailant follow him around the back of the delivery truck where he has another bottle he is willing to share with his new friend. Petrovic tries to grab Luc but against some theatrical stumbling he is unable to get a grip.

As Luc reaches the rear of the lorry and turns in, Petrovic reaches under his shirt and pulls a sharp blade from it's kydex sheath. Luc feels the reassuring weight of the 21” extendible ASP baton tugging at the back of his belt (Preparedness) but for now he swiftly removes his coat and bundles it around his arm, giving him some defensive protection in the event of a knife fight. As the other men start filtering out through the back door Gyasi tugs himself free from his new beau and heads to the rear. Evelyn leaves and starts drifting around to the locked gate that leads from the street to the area at the rear of the bar. Angela joins Ron in the Jeep and they get ready to make a fast entrance or exit if necessary.

Gyasi's new BFF grabs him by the shoulder so as to continue their discussion but a swift backwards elbow strike into his diaphragm leaves him gasping for air (Hand to Hand). Gyasi sets him down on the nearest barstool and pats him gently on the head. He feints towards the bathroom before heading out the rear door and the gathering throng.

Petrovic approaches Luc, passing his knife from hand to hand with practised nonchalance. Luc throws him for a loop by hurling a bottle into his nose (Athletics) mid pass. The impact of the bottle shocks Petrovic, whose knife clatters to the ground next to the wall. He staggers back, bleeding from a broken nose, and his friends from the bar see him reeling. Embarrassed at being outclassed by a wino, Petrovic throws caution to the wind and charges Luc, hoping to grab him with both hands and pin him against the wall.

Luc attempts a sidestep and trip (Hand to Hand) but moves too slowly and get slammed against the wall. He reaches down and grabs Little Petrovic and the Twins, squeezing and twisting as hard as he can. Petrovic collapses to the ground shrieking in agony. Luc pulls the ASP and takes up a position just around the side of the lorry as Knezevic, Kovacs, Ivanović and two more patrons approach his position.

Evelyn begins to pick the lock to the rear access gate silently (Infiltration) whilst Gyasi moves quickly to disable the two rearmost Serbians. A lunging teep kick to the first man's head turns into a spin kick to the second and both men are down and out in mere moments. Gyasi moves up behind Kovacs who, distracted by Luc's battle in front of him has not noticed the two men rendered unconscious by the hulking Gyasi behind him. Luc extends the baton with a sharp whipping motion and attacks the two men as they reach the corner (Weapons). The first man goes down with a broken collarbone but the second strike misses.

Kovacs reaches for a handgun tucked under his shirt and Gyasi runs into action, grabbing him around the wrist with both hands and wrestling for control (Hand to Hand). Gyasi uses a fast hip toss and follows it up with a driving knee to the stomach (more Hand to Hand) simultaneously hyper-extending Kovacs' wrist and using a ridge hand strike to the rear slide of the pistol to knock it from his grasp. Kovacs, overwhelmed by Gyasi's assault and suffering from a concussion after being bounced off the side of the lorry drops to the ground and Gyasi scoops up the pistol, power-stroking the slide back into battery.

Luc viciously smashes the tip of the ASP into the temple of his opponent's head and sends him to sleep (Weapons) and then indicates that his next opponent look behind him. Gyasi is pointing Kovacs' relinquished Glock at Knezevic. Knezevic spots the three unconscious men behind Gyasi and decides that this is not a battle he is likely to win. He raises his hands and slowly drops to his knees. Luc's opponent also decides discretion is the better part of valour and assumes the same position.

Ron reverses the Jeep quickly into the access alley and pops the trunk as Gyasi hoists Kovacs over his shoulder in a fireman's carry and moves past Luc through the now unlocked access gate. Luc follows and they load their second captive Serbian in two days into the rear of the car. Luc jumps in the back and Evelyn and Gyasi make their way swiftly round the corner and jump in Gyasi's car, following after Ron who immediately starts running counter-surveillance patterns before heading back out to the abandoned farmhouse where Knezevic was questioned.

Outside Sarajevo
Sun, 28 JUL 2013
19:31  (GMT+1)
Arriving at the farmhouse, Angela and Evelyn stay out of Kovacs line of sight. Gyasi and Evelyn decide to head to Brigovich's house here in Sarajevo whilst Ron and Luc bundle Kovacs down into the cellar for a nice chat. Angela gets to poke around on his phone whilst the scene is prepared. Kovacs has been in touch with a number of landlines in Belgrade and with both Knezevic and Brigovich but not Dedopovic. Looking Kovacs up on Interpol records show he has a criminal record and has served time in several prisons over the years. She informs Luc and Ron so they have a little information about his background before they begin the questions.

Kovacs smirks at Ron and Luc after they tie him to a chair in the centre of the cellar. He has the scars from around thirty stab wounds on his stomach and doesn't look as if he will break as easy as Knezevic. Ron opens up with some basic questioning and is greeted with a guttural laugh and a threat that Kovacs will see him, his family, his pets and everyone he knows dead and everything he knows and loves burned to ashes. Ron indicates some of the implements nearby and Kovacs laughs once more.

“Био сам тукао бољи људи него што сте раније мог пријатеља. Постоје и горе ствари од смрти.”
(“I was beaten by better people than you before my friend. There are worse things than death.”)

Luc, unable to help himself, glances up at Kovacs, remembering Vladek. Kovacs sees this and in turn tries to gauge what Luc knows. He nods his head towards Luc and says

“знаш зашто сам уплашена.”
(“You know why I'm scared.”)
Luc's eyes bore into Kovacs.

“Знам шта се плашите. Плашиш се оно што видите у њиховим очима? Иза њихове очи?”
(“I know what you fear. Are you afraid of what you see in their eyes? Behind their eyes?”)

Kovacs goes pale and clams up immediately, refusing to answer further questions. Ron suggests that if he is unwilling to help they will drag him along and use Kovacs to slow these things down if they need to make a swift getaway.

Luc speaks up again.

“Ви не плаши смрти... Плашите ли се да ћете постати као они?”
(“You do not fear death... Are you afraid that you will become like them?”)

Kovacs looks panicked. Ron turns to Luc and says “We'd best keep hold of him for now. We can use him for any experiments we need to run whilst we're looking into this”. Luc nods his agreement and addresses Kovacs again.

“Можете да купите себи мало времена, ако почнете да говорите”
(“You can buy yourself some time if you start talking”)

Luc suggests that a future as an information source would probably be infinitely preferable to that of a test subject (Interrogation) and Kovacs kicks off, struggling against his bonds. He has given up rational thought, trying so hard to escape his restraints that he dislocates his own shoulder in an effort to free himself. Luc kicks the chair over to prevent him from doing further damage to himself and he and Ron attempt to hold Kovacs down. He is fighting with all his strength, self-preservation overtaking damage control as his primary concern and the struggle could end with him being gravely injured if it continues.

Ron hits Kovacs with his taser who convulses but instantly becomes a lot easier to handle. Passing the taser to Luc he runs upstairs and asks Angela for something to sedate Kovacs. Angela raids the medikit and hands Ron a syringe of muscle relaxant. Ron gets back downstairs and injects Kovacs with a half-dose. He is no longer struggling but his words are slurred. Luc and Ron right his chair and they sit down opposite him to record the rest of the interrogation.

Ron reiterates to Kovacs that he can stay alive by sharing information with them. Kovacs laughs morbidly and again lets the two men know he is not scared of what they can do to him. Luc presses him again and Kovacs tells them of a grainy video that Brigovich once showed to some of his subordinates. The video looked to have been shot in a disused warehouse and featured a figure in a black hooded sweatshirt and trousers doing things that couldn't be done.

The figure moved with uncanny speed and strength and at one point appeared to be crawling along a wall. Luc asks outright if the figure Kovacs saw looked like it was human. Kovacs looks up under hooded eyes.

“Једном. Можда.”
(“Once. Maybe.”)

He continues with his story. Brigovich showed them the video before they went to Odessa to help out with an arms shipment telling his men that if anyone tried to mess with the Russians on the deal they would have to answer to it. Brigovich implied that his connections to the Russians were such that he could call on their asset if needed. Kovacs never saw this thing anywhere other than the video. Luc asks if Kovacs ever met Vladek but gets a negative so he pushes for more about Brigovich.

Kovacs volunteers some information the team already knew, about his houses in Odessa and Sarajevo, his relationship with Zoric, position within the Zemun Clan, finances and influence. Due to his connections in the Balkans, the Russians often come to him direct when trying to get things done in the local area. In his dealings with the Russians in Odessa he appeared to be working for them. Kovacs talks about some of the Russians he worked with: Vasily, Uri and Rolan. Vasily was a veritable man mountain who always seemed to have a cigar in his mouth. Uri liked to wear expensive tactical glasses and aviator gloves and Rolan, a young, fit Ukrainian always seemed wired and full of nervous energy.

Sun, 28 JUL 2013
20:04  (GMT+1)
Evelyn and Gyasi reach Brigovich's house in Sarajevo. It looks nice from outside and from what they can discern it is empty at this time. Evelyn breaks in (Open Sesame) and she and Gyasi take a look around. They take in an expensive minimalist interior and a well stocked wine cellar and in the garage find a black Hummer H2 and a rare and expensive Porsche 911 Sports Classic. Evelyn finds the car keys and a wall safe which she decides to open (Infiltration). Inside is a Glock 19 with two magazines, €90,000 in cash and two passports.

Both passports feature the same face; one Ukrainian and one Bosnian under the names Danilo Zelenko and Danilo Adamić respectively. Evelyn takes everything, ejecting a single round from one of the magazines and leaving it standing on end in the safe before closing and relocking it. Gyasi and Evelyn spend a few minutes setting up covert audio and video surveillance devices to cover the entrance, safe and other locations before they make their way back to the farmhouse. On the way back Evelyn sends MMS images of Brigovich's backup passports to Ron, Angela and Luc.

Sun, 28 JUL 2013
21:14  (GMT+1)
Ron receives a phone call from Ibis and steps out to answer it. She lets him know that the cameras she hacked have picked up movement at Brigovich's place in Odessa. A black Mercedes Benz E-Class has pulled up and three men clamber out. A squat powerful looking older man in a well tailored suit, a tall gaunt man and a figure dressed top to toe in black including a black hooded top.

She sends through a picture of the three men to Ron and on receiving the passport photos of Danilo she updates the facial recognition software she is running. She next identifies the E-Class as a rental from Hertz at Odessa airport. She tries to break into the server (Digital Intrusion) but comes up short. Changing tack she gives Ron an address for a safe house in Odessa and he lets her know about the results of the interrogation of Kovacs.

Sun, 28 JUL 2013
22:17  (GMT+1)
Arriving back at the farmhouse the team update Gyasi and Evelyn and decide what to do about Kovacs. Ron is all for taking him out back with a shovel but calmer heads prevail. Gyasi has a good friend as a contact in the State Investigation and Protection Agency (SIPA), Captain Marko Lukic. They decide that they will be able to hand Kovacs over to him and arrange for him to get lost in the prisoner transfer system, at least until they are safe out of the country.

Gyasi takes the blood and tissue samples from the Vladek's not-overwhelmingly-well-preserved sniper rifle but is unable to detect drugs or anything else anomalous. Ron is unhappy at this as it defies rational explanation. Luc receives an SMS from one of his contacts and after a brief phone call gets the details of a man named Donald Carroll in Sevastopol who might be able to help with the investigation in Odessa.

Angela gets an email indicating that a news article has popped with one of her pre-defined search terms: Lennart. The article is about the death of Brigadier General Malcolm Lennart in a fatal car accident in Canada. The team gather together upstairs in the farmhouse before they drag Kovacs to the handover with Lukic. Evelyn splits the money found in Brigovich's safe between the team and they then share (most of) what they know with each other. The consensus is to head to Sevastopol and from there into Odessa.

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