March 2022 – Operation Brutus

01.03.2022 – 21:00 EET

Julia walks towards the briefing room, coffee in one hand, phone in the other. Her stern look at one of the interns, is enough to make him rush to open the door for her. She walks right into an ongoing briefing while hitting send on her phone. The agent giving his briefing looks severely annoyed at her behavior.

“Jules, do you mind? I’m in the middle of a briefing”

“Ah yes your expedition to save some rich douche-bags more money, attaboy Harry”

“Well sure you’re on a quest for something that will kill whoever you’re saving”

“Hah, we got this last one alive. Joke’s on you! Now if you’ll excuse me, just here for this projector. Unlike you, we have some cute animals to save”

Julia grabs the projector and walks out, while exchanging smiles with Harry. It’s a good thing the Tiberian Serpent doesn’t have a very active HR department. The banter keeps the office bearable for her.

Agent “OLoFI” looks at the laptop screen, an email from Julia Sharpe just came in, her first ever assignment. Julia is a legend at the Tiberian Serpent, she’s thrilled to be working together on this one with her. Scrolling through the provided information, she carefully starts her work of intelligence gathering. Being her first ever real assignment, failure is not an option.

02.03.2022 – 11:32 EET

After pulling an all-nighter, her eyes are about to fall out and agent OLoFI for sure thinks her single laptop monitor, morphed into four screens.

“How the hell am I supposed to get this tracking number”

Going back over her material, a light-bulb goes on in her mind. The adrenaline rushes in as she quickly grabs the handler file.

“That’s it! Wendy! Oliver doesn’t know Wendy at all, but he’s expecting an email from her”

“All I need to do is pretend to be Wendy and convince Oliver to send me the details”

After carefully crafting a phishing attempt, running the details through her assigned Red Team members, she’s ready to send it out.

“This better fucking work, I do not want to blow this”

A few painstaking hours go by, as she tries to distract herself by going over all the material again and again. Until finally, an email from Oliver. Google translate quickly gives her all the details needed. She gathers all the information and starts writing her final report, ready to be send over for verification by a senior analyst.

03.03.2022 – 14:11 EET

“Agent call-sign and verification badge?” Asks the security guard

“OLoFI” she says as he inspects her badge

“Come right in, agent Sharpe is waiting for you”

Nervous like a child at the dentist, she walks into the briefing room. Julia sitting at the end of the table, staring at the projected images on the wall. Between the cigarette smoke and coffee smell, her images with analyses are on the wall. Her images made it to a briefing room!

“So, here’s what I think” Julia says while shifting her attention.

“Your analysis was excellent, we need to act fast. Since both countries are not friendly, we will need some time to convince the right people to make this bust. And by convince I mean bribe officials using our informants inside their governments”

“Ow.. okay.. We can just do that?”

“Not that easily, but saving animals is good PR right now. And at least one of the countries has a yearly wage we use to but a new chair. So it should not be too expensive”

“So what is our plan?”

“Right now we’re in contact with both authorities in Kenya and China, once we have a confirmation from Kenya, we will send the local police in to kick the doors of everyone involved. They won’t be very coordinated, but that won’t be an issue. As long as nobody calls each other. For the Chinese, we want them to bust the market while to animals are being delivered. They will have an informant at the harbor to confirm the ship arrives and the cargo is on it’s way. Police will bust the market the second they see the animals being delivered”

“When will we know if they can make the arrests? And why do you need me here?”

“We should hear about this any moment. And you are here because you found them. See, we have these things called body-cams these days. Meaning you and I are going to sit back and have a drink, while we watch the Chinese police arrest these fuckers. Trust me, it beats Netflix any day of the week. Also… We need to record the bust so we know we didn’t bribe people for no reason”

“Ow wow, that would be amazing. But I still don’t know why I’m here right now”

“Yes of course! So it seems you have a real talent for this work. And you phished someone, which is usually outside our mandate. I can use people who work outside the box on my team. You are here for a job interview for my team…”

25.03.2022 – 09:48 EET

After docking and unloading the ship, Wendy and Oliver get in a black Mercedes sedan. Following the trucks through the bustling streets of Tianjin. The market isn’t too far away and the organisation that hired them pays well.

“So what are you doing with your cut? Wendy asks

“Get a fucking drink, try getting stuff done as a Chinese man in Kenya. So done with that place. What about you?”

“Pay my rent, China is getting crazy expensive these days. And I don’t want to live in the smoke of all these factories anymore”

“Clean air is expensive in China for sure..”

The trucks pull into an alley, they all get out of their vehicles and approach a man smoking a cigarette. He’s holding a clipboard and an envelope. Smiling from ear to ear, he walks towards them.

“Do you have the animals?”

“Yes, have a look” Wendy motions the driver to open the truck.

In the back of the truck they see cages filled with animals packed together, no longer having the energy to fight. Some of them dead, others very much near death.

“Looks good, they seem mostly alive, so fresh enough and well preserved”

Oliver hears a car behind him, he turns his head and sees there are now several cars driving into the alley.

“Ow fuck, run!”

He shouts as he throws down his cigarette and runs towards the entrance. As he’s almost at the door, police officers storm out of the building and jump out of their cars. Weapons drawn they yell at everyone to put their hands behind their heads and get on the ground.

Oliver gets on the ground, he sees even more officers run into the market from all sides, they’re taking it all down it seems. A police officer walks up to them and orders them to their feet. Holding a piece of paper with their information and pictures, he asks.

“Are you Oliver Zeis Leung and Wendy Liu?”

“Yes, that’s us”

“Great, you’re coming with me. Officer Zhang, put these two in the back of my car”

“Yessir. You two, move!”

The officer hits Oliver in the back with a baton repeatedly as they make their way to the car. Both Oliver and Wendy know that whatever happens next, will not be good for them.