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Operation Ifrit
The Domovoi task force had been slow to find it's feet. The team members had been gathered from across the breadth of the CCD, and had only a few relatively quiet days to sort themselves out before their first case had emerged. A serial rapist, suspected to be using 'magic' to lure and render unconscious women at night along the river parks areas. With so little physical evidence at the scenes of the crime, and no reliable information provided by the targeted women, it had proven a challenging case for the newly formed task force.

Detectives Favager and Köhl had worked tirelessly to track down the suspect, whom they had become certain worked in some capacity with park maintenance and security; the attacks all happened out of sight of cameras, and whomever the attacker was had proven quite adept at avoiding them elsewhere in the park; the most they had was movement, obscured by trees and other obstacles, moving off the main paths.

That investigation was called short, when the two detectives, working in tandem to question city park staff, received an all-hands-on-deck call moments before the news broke and chimed on their Wallet feeds.

The pair of detectives arrived at the site of carnage along Garden Ring Road quickly, having fallen in with a veritable motorcade of police and first-responder vehicles. Nearly half of Domovoi was already on scene, with the rest either remaining at the task force's HQ or still making their way in from where ever they had been on their off-duty hours.

The scene was chaos, and would be for hours to come as wounded were treated and witnesses gathered, damage cleaned up. The Garden Ring Road was too important to the daily functioning of the city to be allowed to be treated as a sealed crime scene forever; even if officially it wasn't one. There would be scientists and their like on the scene once the bodies were removed to take atmosphere samples and come up with whatever excuse they would to cover the event, while Domovoi would work more quietly to piece together the picture. Questioning witnesses was proving a challenge, when saying things like 'did you see the evil warlock that did this' wasn't allowed.

By early afternoon, the scene was under control, portions of the important thoroughfare already reopened to the public, and the city's hospitals were already discharging some of the day's more mildly injured.

Then the plane crashed. It wasn't the first to go down under mysterious causes in Moscow, and surely wouldn't be the last. This time though, while most emergency personnel rushed towards the downed plane, Detectives Köhl and Favager were rushing to the airport, there to question people regarding the sudden arrival of a fog bank dense enough to confound modern aircraft equipment enough to bring down a plane. A series of questions that brought up little of interest, and a lot of stone walls, as airport staff clearly suspected the police investigation was in regards to criminal negligence on the airport staff's part.

The breakthrough came with the deaths of comrades. Another rush across the city, to where a number of officers had been cut down in a blatant attack. There would be cameras, there were witnesses, and there was a direct, visible human involvement in the attack. An attack that could be spun as the use of some new-age tazer weapon on steroids, perhaps.

The weight that Domovoi could bring to bear was finally turned onto finding leads and evidence, while Captain Aleksandrov petitioned to the Chief Inspector for warrants and mandated cooperation of various city departments. The man's bad luck, being stopped as he had been in what would likely have been a simple search and release, would be his downfall.

A second team was tasked to investigating Theo Andlain, who claimed both responsibility for and leadership of the group behind the attacks. In a world powered by social media, it was entirely possible Andlain was just claiming responsibility to glean extra followers on his video blog or some such, but Captain Aleksandrov was not so arrogant as to simply turn a blind eye.

They had the man's name and image. They would have the same on the one who had struck down those officers within the day, god willing. Bank accounts, family members, friends and more would follow suit.

Edited by Drayson, Aug 4 2015, 08:55 PM.
Captain Aleksandrov stood in the basement offices of the Domovoi task force, specifically a briefing room. Seated around the table were a half-dozen detectives and other Domovoi officers. Monitors around the room displayed case relevant information, which was painfully little at the moment.

The self-proclaimed ringleader was Theo Andlain. The boy was cocky; plastered his name and face all over the internet. An easy thing to do in the social network age. The man had quite the ionized following; haters were nearly as outspoken as his supporters, and conspiracy nuts had a new banner to rally to. Of course, for once they were right; there was a global conspiracy in place to hide the truth. Certainly not a unified one, but an unspoken sort of agreement between many world powers that didn't wish to have to deal with the fallout of public realization before they were ready.

One such preparation for that inevitable day was the Domovoi task force. People needed to know their governments had in place a means to protect them. More importantly was a desire to find a means to rehabilitate, not simply imprison or execute. Not exactly an entirely mutual desire of course, but Drayson had collected not only the ones who had best weathered the storm of knowing things truly did go bump in the night without going insane, but had gleaned from that pool the best he could find.

Theo Andlain, it turned out, had no family to speak of, and none that could be called friends. Detectives had already canvased old classmates and the like to learn what they could, but the picture that was assembled was less then comforting. An outsider. A powerful social outcast, as it turned out.

Theo's bank accounts were frozen, no Wallet to speak of to be tracked. Little of interest found through his social media and online footprint.

The other though. The cop-killer. That one had proven a far more fruitful avenue of investigation. The young man hadn't even worn a mask when he was stopped by the police officers that had stopped him. Pankratiy Volkov. Easily found thanks to a pre-existing criminal record; part of why the officers had pulled the man over to begin with. An outstanding warrant on unpaid speeding tickets of all things.

Pankratiy had a family, had associates. His bank accounts were frozen of course. His Wallet was tracked for a time, before it went offline. A pattern of life was established.

Notes were compared; there had been no luck finding witnesses of the attack on the airport or the Golden Ring. That came as no surprise; who notices a person that may well have been standing in a crowd doing...nothing? And then remembers it after a tornado of flame tears through dozens of cars?

"Detectives Köhl, Favager. You are to focus all your efforts on finding Mr Volkov. He is the weak link here, so to speak. The man is arrogant, and will slip up. Follow the trail of breadcrumbs and he should lead us to Andlain."
The two detectives nodded in unison; they would be spearheading the hunt, and both were entirely comfortable with the idea, although for very different reasons.

"Officers Konstantinov, Sokolov. Whatever the Detectives need. Zinoviya, make sure our SWAT armoury is stocked. Volkov will not hesitate to kill, so we must be ready to incapacitate him before he can react."
The pair of beat cops both nodded in near unison; they were used to being employed as muscle, although they were expecting the Detectives to use them for less interesting tasks. Kira was already plotting out in her mind what few things were still needed to stock the armoury she was in charge of.

Finer points were discussed and in short order the team quit the room to follow up on their tasks, leaving Aleksandrov to return to his office and resume slugging through the red tape that Domovoi would need to cut through to get their job done. They could always turn to the Chief Inspector, but Aleksandrov wasn't about to run off to daddy for the easy way out at every turn. He would see the task done through the proper channels first.
It had taken longer then expected; the prevalence of social-media in the modern age had made for an uncontrollable spread of information on the attacks, and on those involved. Fan clubs always formed regarding mass-murderers, and with them would come copy-cats, impostors, supporters, and more. Weeks were lost chasing false leads or taking down would-be supporters.

The breakthrough finally came thanks to a less then enviable stakeout spearheaded by Officers Konstantinov and Sokolov. Or more accurately, requested by Detective Köhl after a possible facial match had been made using city cameras. The two police officers had spent a particularly cold night in a late 2000's Lada Niva which they quickly discovered the heater was faulty and gave out hardly an hour into their twelve hour shift.

The end result was a confirmation of the whereabouts of Pankratiy Volkov, the magic-user whom had very publicly slain two police officers the same day as Theo Andlain's attack on the Golden Circle. The man was hole'd up in a once-popular nightclub, The Ministry, which had closed it's doors a few months prior when one of the co-owners had lost most of the company's finances in a gambling and drug binge that left the man dead of a heroin overdose.

Captain Aleksandrov stood once more at the head of the table in the small Domovoi briefing room, which felt especially crowded with the task force's full complement of detectives, Officers Konstantinov and Sokolov (probably) jokingly threatening to start a garbage fire in the room's steel garbage can, Officer Zinoviya seated near the head of the table and firing up the table's builtin computer and the associated wall monitor, and Lt Chmela, commanding officer of the task force's assigned Special Purpose Mobility Unit (aka SWAT).

The newly formed SPMU was only ten members strong, small for such a team in Moscow, but thanks to that small size Officer Zinoviya had had far less trouble then she had expected getting the task force armoury stocked and ready for them, and equally had allowed the SPMU to develop as a cohesive team in the few short weeks they had had to prepare.

"Detectives Favager and Köhl have managed to confirm what Konstantinov and Sokolov have gathered. Pankratiy Volkov is currently hiding in a closed nightclub, and likely has been for some time already. All signs indicate that he is indeed hosting 'private parties' for some of his more dedicated fans. This also explains why we have not been able to track his financial records; likely these 'fans' are giving him physical cash."
The Captain indicated to Kira, and she activated the wall-mounted screen, displaying a few block radius around The Ministry.

"Officers of the Prospekt Vernadskoho District precincts will be providing the outer cordon, and their SPMU team will be on standby should we need added assistance during the raid. In light of Volkov's capabilities, we will be relying on your team heavily, Lt Chmela. The Vernadskoho SPMU is not ready for someone like him."
The Czechoslovakian lieutenant nodded solemnly; his team was as ready as they could be, considering everything they had trained for was theoretical.

"We will be executing the raid in five hours. From what we have been able to gather, the building is mostly or entirely empty save for Volkov in the morning. This will of course cause some issues with the public considering the affects on traffic flow in the region, and once the cordon is established, we will quickly loose any element of surprise should Volkov be paying any attention to the news or social media feeds."
People would be making angry comments on city service boards and their private feeds, and that would spread quickly.

Questions were fielded and answered, contingency plans and 'what if's' explored for some time, but eventually everyone seemed as content as they could be. It was time for the big show; Domovoi would level modern science and weaponry against people who could throw balls of fire from their fingertips or stop hearts with a thought.

Edited by Drayson, Dec 9 2015, 08:21 AM.
Unseen, Michael watched the meeting proceed on live feed. Considering the nature of the operation and his own position within the Custody, it had not been hard to secure a position in which he could observe their planning.

It was spying, he supposed, but his intent was that of a bystander. His goal to watch and learn; and there was much to learn from this team. Not only could he provide advice to better proceed if the operation failed, he would also be prepared for the tactics that might be used against him, if that time ever came.

Drayson, the leader of the operation was a meticulously competent commander. However, Michael had doubts. They had not come up against one like they were about to confront, and no amount of sound plans would prepare them for the storm that was to come.
"She saw a flaring halo around his head, radiant in gold and blue. It shouted of glory and power to come"
"No matter how fast light travels, it finds the darkness has always got there first, and is waiting for it."

Lt Chmela , head of the Domovoi SPMU team, stood back as his team filed through the armoury. Officer Zinoviya  worked dilligently to see each team member kitted out; body armour had been sized well in advance and each member knew fully how to dawn the gear, but she insisted on double-checking each as they filed forward to draw their weapons. Clasps and straps were inspected, velcro straps pulled loose then fastened for a better field. They knew how to wear the body armour, she knew the science behind how it worked. Worn too tight and the armour would compress and break bones. Too loose and it would be blown off by the initial pressure of a blast.

Once the team member's armour was up to her standards, she would walk with her tell-tale thumping stride, her functional-but-obvious prosthetic leg giving her a much heavier left-step then her right. Each member was trained on the whole slew of next-gen non-lethal weaponry the Domovoi Task Force stocked.

Directional sonic weapons, directed energy weapons, even the newest arrival to the inventory; a directional plasma stream emitter. With each non-lethal weapon, the team members drew breachers shotguns or SMGs, sidearms, tools and equipment, all under the careful supervision of Officer Zinoviya. Half an hour later, the full SPMU team was assembled in the main precinct's garage, with the rest of Domovoi loading any final gear into the vehicles.

The preparations were being mirrored in two other precincts closer to The Ministry, the closed night-club serving as Pankratiy Volkov's personal hidey-hole. Their SPMU teams were on stand-by to backup Domovoi if needed, but more importantly their personnel would establish the outer cordon, making sure civilian traffic and presence in the area was kept to a minimum. Timing was everything in an age of near-instantaneous updates to social media.

Officers Konstantinov and Sokolov had already departed, tasked with the again unenviable objective of making sure the target was still on site.


Prospekt Vernadskoho District police established the outer cordon as the Domovoi task force approached The Ministry. Various city services websites were updated quoting a myriad of issues from ruptured water mains to minor car accidents. This information automatically updated social media apps that helped people avoid traffic delays on their drives to or from work.

By the time personnel of Task Force Domovoi arrived in the Prospekt Vernadskoho district, the officers on the cordon were already reporting the rouse had proven, thus far, successful. They hadn't seen much traffic yet, and fewer questions and complaints.

Few complaints other then Officers Konstantinov and Sokolov, who filed yet another report that the heater in their Lada Niva was indeed burned out, and that they were probably freezing to death.


Captain Aleksandrov leaned over the shoulder of Officer Zinoviya, who sat at the console in the SPMU mobile command unit, parked only a few blocks from The Ministry. At first glance, the vehicle might have looked like an armoured bank car, and such an impression wasn't far off. It was the satelite dish, camera mast, and antennas on the roof that gave it away.

That, and the presence of an armoured personnel carrier parked next to it, where the Domovoi SPMU team was going over final kit checks. Cameras and trackers, communications systems, charges on their non-lethal weapon systems, mag checks on their more lethal, conventional, weapons. Two police vans sat in the shadows of the armoured vehicles, where Domovoi officers and detectives went through their own pre-raid drills. They would follow in the wake of Lt Chmela's team.

Detective Favager stood to one side, thumbing one final message into his Wallet. A promise to get his hands on the AAR (after action report) and body-camera footage of the raid, and to get that data to the Atharim. Domovoi would be able to start making a difference in the CCD, but the Atharim worked globally; the United States, Australia, even China would follow suit. But what about the rest of the world? Africa, South America, the rest of uninified Asia? Those places would have only the Atharim to protect them, as had been the case for longer then he could fathom.

Officer Zinoviya had unwittingly arranged much the same thing, promissing to forward the data and tactics to her old professor, Joseph Theiss, Atharim weapons specialist. Which, truthfully, she had no idea about.


The approach on The Ministry was quiet. Domovoi officers made use of modern scanning equipment, identifying two simple commerical brand wireless web cameras. Likely the entirety of Volkov's security. Hand-carried equipment were set up outside of view of those cameras, and directional beams were emitted simultaneously, jamming their signals. To the casual observer of whatever feeds those cameras provided, it would seem like they had simply lost their wireless router signal.

The Domovoi SPMU carrier came in next, rounding the corner and into view of where those cameras had been pointed mere seconds after they had been disabled. The vehicle lurched to a halt, the heavy rubber tires chuffing loudly against the ashphalt. The ramp dropped and Lt Chmela's team thundered out and stormed The Ministry entrance.

Thermal imagers had already indicated five people inside the building, three in the main dance floor area, and two others in a back office. All five were asleep, or at least lounging mostly unmoving for the past hour, likely too drunk or high to really be aware of their surroundings. Apparently, according to Officers Konstantinov and Sokolov, there had been a party that night.

In the AAR, there was no obvious answer to how Volkov was alerted to the team's approach. Their entrance was quiet, methodical. No signs of alarms were found, even in the scene analysis in the days that followed.

The first man into the main dance floor was down three steps into the room as a bolt of red lightning arched across the room to strike him in the chest. His gear was made of a super-conductive layer over the ballistic protection. It was designed to carry most of the electric current down to the floor and into the ground, without it coursing through the wearer's body. It helped, but the man's heart still stopped from the shock.

All Captain Aleksandrov saw in the command vehicle was the man's camera flash red then turn to static, and the man's vitals flat-line.

The second man into the room came up firing, so to speak. He stepped over his fallen comrade's smoking body, a directional sonic emitter pressed to his shoulder and leveled on the only man standing in the room.

As luck would have it, the man standing was indeed Volkov. As the weapon was aimed his way, the man clearly did something likely meant to protect himself; a wave of his arm, which was surely meant to ward off bullets or physical projectiles. But there were no such things; only sound waves. They were disrupted for a moment, as the waves carried through the disrupted air between shooter and target. When it reached, Volkov let out a strangled scream of pain, reeling back and grabbing at his ears.

One of his lackeys, a sixteen year old fan-girl, ran towards the SPMU team member before she too collapsed to the floor, screaming and grabbing her ears. The brief disruption of the sonic weapon's line of fire allowed Volkov a moment to recover. He raised his arm towards the door, loosing another bolt of red lightning.

Which struck and walked across the wall, tearing through the wood and drywall, rupturing a gasline. The next team member through the door circled wide and dropped to a knee as she came in, levelling her own non-lethal weapon on Volkov. A coherent beam of plasma connected her weapon and Volkov's chest in an instance, invisible to the naked eye of course. That conduit of charged particles then carried an electric shock to the target. Much like a taser, but over longer distance and with no detectable darts and cables.

Again Volkov was staggered, dropping to the floor in a twitching, soiled mess of bodily fluids. The man was weeping and screaming between pained convulsions, as the Domovoi member simply stood and kept her weapon trained on the target, leaving an opening for the rest of the team to enter.

Lt Chmela was fourth into the room, and directed two of his team members towards the back room where the other two heat signatures had been sighted. The SPMU member with the sonic weapon had already slung it and was cuffing the girl had charged him, while two others stormed Volkov. With all their high-tech equipment, their plan was surprisingly low-tech. A bottle of chloroform and a rag, made of a piece torn off of Officer Sokolov's locker room towel.

The third heat signature in the main room was still unconscious; a middle-aged man, too wasted to have noticed what was going on around him. He was subdued easily enough.

Volkov's screams had awoken the other two though, and as two Domovoi team members booted open the office door they were met with unexpected resistance.

Lt Chmela stood near the door, staring at the wall to his right, his helmet cam focused on the visible rippling of air from the gas leak.

The problem was that the building had been renovated so many times in recent years. And The Ministry's previous owners had done a lot of work under the counter, to avoid taxes and an aversion to doing the proper paper work. The building plans didn't point out that they had illegally tapped into the natural gas line. They saved a ton on their heating bill, but there was no indication on the building's blueprints of the presence of the gas line, which should never have been in an outer wall to begin with, let out that it shouldn't have existed at all. The building's main gas line had been cut and drained hours before the raid.

As the pair moved to enter through the door, an almost pitiful bolt of flame flashed out. A 20-something young man stood naked over the drug-ruined body of a girl in the office. Alerted to the raid by Volkov's screams, the man was in a fear-induced panic, the only time he could seem to make use of his powers.

The bolt of flame missed both the Domovoi agents, and then the young man dropped to the ground with a brief scream of pain. Another charged plasma stream, another body-crippling jolt of electricity.

And an explosion, as the gas leak caught flame. The gas in the room already burned off in a split second, creating a brief vacuum.

Lt Chmela was killed instantly. Where simple CPR might have saved the team-member dropped by Volkov, the ensuing fire prevented any such resuscitation. Of the five other team members in the main room, two were killed, as were Volkov and the unconscious middle-aged man. Once the fire got into the gas line, it spread; investigations after the fact indicated that the illegal gas line had been leaking for some time, creating pockets of gas in the floor.

The second magic user though, whom had inadvertently started the fire, was taken alive. Shocked by the flames and the pain of the Domovoi weaponry, he was rendered unconscious and was successfully arrested.

In the aftermath, Domovoi reconvened at the precinct, most of the SPMU team either at the coroners or the hospital, their perp dead, and three unknowns unconscious in the department stockade. It was a small miracle none had been injured, aside from smoke inhalation, but until it could be determined which ones, if any, could use magic, they couldn't be safely checked into a hospital. Of the three, one was known to be a magic user though, and that one held the interest of Captain Aleksandrov. He had lost good people trying to catch Volkov, to try and get a lead on the group's mastermind, Theo Andlain.

His team had done everything right. Their weapons and tactics had proven effective. It had been little more then bad luck that had led to the disaster. He tried to focus on that, and the task at hand. How do you question someone, if you can't safely leave them coherent enough to think, and thus kill you with their magic?
How does one question a man who is mentally incapacitated - fogged and drugged and so out of it that they can barely stop drolling. The problem was you can't.

Alex had only one idea and it rested on the persumption that she could tell when a person grasped the source of their power. At least that was how she explained it. Granted she couldn't exactly tell her colleagues how she knew this - her relationship with the now felled Volodin had remained secret but he was the source of her knowledge through their extra-ciricular activites.

Alex knew it would one day end badly sadly it wasn't even the cops that took out Bas. And no one really cared one way or the other. She did but only peripherally - as a friend.

The only thought Alex had to this was to be in the interviews with the so-called magic users. She didn't have to be in their sights, or even see them. But they needed to render the perp innert when she sensed them grabbing their power - an overpowered shock treatment. At least thoughts how she relayed it to the Captain. She couldn't explain her ability, but she knew when these men would grab their power. She could indicate to the men and women running the equipment to turn on the power, or do it her self and remove the middle man. Keep them drugged but not out of it. Train them not to touch the source of their power and maybe everyone would get out of it alive. But it was all very risky - so very risky. What the really needed was a way to cut a person off from their power without actually having to manipulate them with drugs. A what if scenario that someday she hoped would be solved.

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