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The Strange Case of Dr. Jäger
EX SUPRA Spooktacular: Part 2
Happy Halloween! It’s my favorite holiday, and I love combining the holidays with my writing. Last year, I wrote “Paramilitary Activity” a Halloween-themed interwar spy story set in the EX SUPRA universe. This year, I bring a sequel to last year’s Spooktacular, set in the home of one of history’s greatest monsters.
BERCHTESGARDEN, BAVARIAN ALPS, GERMANY
0200L 26 OCT 2031
George Smiley died a year ago. George Smiley was murdered one year ago. A Halloween celebration turned into a nightmare by a Chinese wet work team. One year ago the new rules were written in blood, and as hard as John, Athena, and everyone else at Langley worked, they were no closer to finding the traitor in their ranks that burned John and Athena and brought about Smiley’s demise.
Of course, his name wasn’t actually George Smiley, it was Stan Black. Stan was a beloved veteran case officer who just happened to be dressed as the legendary fictional spy for the Halloween party. It was Stan who first welcomed John and Athena to Special Activities Center, the CIA’s paramilitary outfit, when the duo completed their training a few years earlier and it was Stan who rescued them when their first operation on the Korean Peninsula went bad. He’d done ops and ran sources on every continent, and so everyone felt he deserved to be remembered as his beloved fictional hero. But for all the love, someone inside Langley still turned traitor and cost Stan his life, and had it not been for John and Athena, most of the Center’s best operators would have been killed with him.
One year after the tragedy at Mountain Shadows, John and Athena were at wit’s end. Every thread they pulled in the hunt for their mole turned only to dust. Every double-dealing arms dealer they tracked and body they dropped got them no closer to revenge. To make matters worse, their latest assignment brought them to the heart of the Third Reich: a reminder that the world was only getting shittier and they needed people like Stan more than ever.
At the dawn of the synthetic biology revolution, the ancestral remnants of the Nazi Party realized they could revive their genocidal vision for humanity with the likes of CRISPR and its commercial successors. Despite what the democratic German government projected to the rest of the world, Bavaria remained a hotbed for supremacist ideology, it just hid behind a thin veil of old money and new nationalism. It was here that the Nazis in the shadows started experimenting on their new empire. Dr. Rudolf Jäger opened a new genetics lab under the auspices of charitable disease eradication, funded by several German industrialists. When he wasn’t running fundraising galas, he was borrowing the DNA of his neighbors to develop an Aryan modification to the human genome.
They’d been briefed that the doctor had been on Langley’s watch list for a while, but running assassination ops on NATO territory was still frowned upon so they could only monitor him when he rarely left the country. However, the CCP’s mole burning Langley’s agents left and right had suddenly changed that calculus when his name came up on a list of go-betweens for MSS operatives moving through Europe. Dr. Jäger for his part thought he was safe. He’d ran the lab for several years without raising suspicion of the German federal authorities, until he got a knock on his door. In the dead of night.
“Valkyrie set. By your count, Thor.” Athena placed the infrasonic breach charge on the hinges of the expertly carved front door of the mountainside mansion. The Nazi doctor had a top of the line security system…for burglars. The infrasonic waves of the charge would shatter the hinges of the door and scramble the entry sensors of the house alarm without waking the neighbors. John had already tapped into the house telecommunications lines in order to jam any outgoing alerts to the local authorities from the security system. The target would surely hear the breach, but no one else would.
“Five.” I live for this.
“Four.” Remember these charges have a 50% fail right.
“Three.” If it fails, I just get to use the det cord.
“Two.” The firing mechanism triggered on “two” and the sound of what resembled a mosquito flying by your ear emitted from the door charge. The metal frames shattered and the heavy wooden door fell off its hinges and forward into the white marble foyer without much drama.
“Knock. Knock.” John whispered to no one in particular. That the door wasn’t booby-trapped was a good sign. He raised his suppressed FiveSeveN pistol and fluidly entered and cleared the foyer. Athena followed, suppressed P90 at the ready and aimed at the top of the staircase leading to the bedrooms. As John cleared the rest of the first floor, John quietly wondered into his comm if they had the right man. The place was filled with pictures of family and friends, antique furniture, and research awards and artwork adorned the walls.
“Guy seems like a pretty normal dude for a Kraut scientist. We sure this is the right place?” He expected pictures of the Fuhrer to be adorning the halls.
“They all seem like normal dudes on the surface, that’s how they come to power.” Athena whispered back as she crept up the stairs.
“Fair enough. Coming up on your six.” John passed Athena on the staircase and peeked the near corner, she kept her weapon on the far side corridor.
“Hallway clear.” John pushed towards the master bedroom, Athena catching up with him once he posted up on the next door. The house remained eerily quiet, a wolf howled in the distance. The house remained pitch dark, the faint glow from the experimental thermal-vision contact lenses giving both of their eyes a faint orange glow that couldn’t be seen from more than a few yards away. John checked that the door was locked and signaled to breach. Athena shook her head. He cocked his to the left in confusion. She pointed at the moonlight under the door, no doubt coming from the window that the floor plans showed aligned with the doorframe. John squinted. The middle of the door remained dark where the moonlight should be showing. Someone was on the other side, no doubt waiting with loaded weapon. He also noted what looked like a wire running along the hallway molding that entered the wall right before the door. Now that’s a booby trap.
John smiled and reached around for the det cord in his pack. Whoever was on the other side of that door was gonna wake the neighbors. It was better if John and Athena initiated on their own terms. Athena threw in her ear protection and backed off. John assembled his charge but then thought over his placement. He took a few steps backward on the side opposite of where the booby trap wire entered the wall. He set up a ring charge of det cord on the wall itself instead of the door and then took a few more steps back. Athena flashed him a thumbs up. He counted down in his head.
Five. I love my job.
Four. Shit, I forgot my ear pro.
Three. Ah, fuck it.
Two. Ignition. BOOM.
The blast blew a three foot wide hole in the wall and threw up a cloud of dust that filled the hallway and bedroom. Athena charged through the hole first and fired off several rounds before taking more in return. John followed. I can’t see shit. Fuck, I can’t hear shit.
The hail of bullets from a submachine gun grazed his torso as he dove for cover, Athena fired back with her own burst from the P90. He felt around for blood, a round slashed right below his left kidney but didn’t seem to have any done any real damage. He’d deal with it after the Nazi. He rolled further to his left and brushed up against Athena. He caught her orange-flickering eyes in the dusty dark. The guns continued to trade fire across the expansive bedroom. he fumbled around for a micro-grenade. If the breach didn’t get the bastard, a few ounces of PETN at his feet should.
“Get down!” he grabbed Athena’s forearm and pulled her to the floor. John lobbed the walnut-sized explosive across the room and remembered to cover his ears this time. The blast hit and a scream followed. In the moonlight, a distorted figure limped out. The duo peaked over the bed frame.
“Christ he’s still standing.” John reached for another grenade.
“You had your fun, Johnny. My turn.” Without a second thought, Athena grabbed her knife in one hand and held her P90 in the other, she rushed the shadowy figure with another burst and tackled him to the floor. The bullets stopped and John jumped to his feet to make sure Athena was alright.
In the moonlight, he finally caught sight of the Nazi…with Athena’s blade jammed through his throat and a bloody pool massing on the floor.
“You good, Valkyrie?” She groaned.
“Yep, just uh, gimme a minute. Think I landed on his weapon.”
Athena climbed off the mangled body of the Nazi and stumbled to her feet. John reloaded his pistol. He was already thinking about the next steps.
“We gotta send a message to Chris and Shelby at Berlin Station, let ‘em know what we got. And warn ‘em their counterparts might be pissed.”
I still don’t know what I’m looking at John, besides a dead Nazi.”
“We know that’s Dr. Jäger, right?” John pointed at the bullet-ridden body lying on the bearskin rug. She could see the wheels starting to turn in his brain. She pulled out the portable DNA scanner, it flashed red. She felt around for a bloody hand and pressed it to the screen.
“His DNA came back as inconclusive, but his fingerprints came back as the ones associated with the German federal databases." Athena shook the portable scanner at him with the results on the screen.
“So if that’s really Doc Jäger, how many 50 year old scientists do you know that look like they can bench 405 and can take a wad of PETN and a full magazine to put down? He doesn’t even look like the picture in the file Langley gave us.”
“…What’s your point?”
“I think he wasn’t just running a research program, Athena. I think he was the research program.” Athena threw another confused look at him. John looked down again at the bloody mess and then back at up at his partner. He grimaced.
“His DNA didn’t come back inconclusive, he spoofed it with his mods.” Her eyes narrowed.
“He’s a geneticist but more importantly an ideologue. He wasn’t just trying to rearrange some bullshit Aryan genomes, he was trying to improve them. Look at him. He changed his outside as much as his inside. Clearly he was confident enough in his research to put it in his own body. The Nazis wanted a fucking army and Langley knew he was working on this.”
“Get to the point, John. Polizei are gonna be here any minute.” She started to pace.
“Everyone on the fucking planet will want this technology. Think about the implications for soldiers and spies everywhere. This makes designer babies look like a dollar store gimmick. Imagine a person that can modify their capabilities and appearance without expensive hardware. ChiComs probably already have it if he really was a go-between for their agents. Russians too. Langley has known about this guy for years, Athena. And all we get some is old surveillance photograph and some bullshit excuse about ops on NATO territory. We’ve killed scores of bad guys for less. Dude with this much talent and intent and we don’t have a whole task force dedicated to snuffing his ass out?”
“What are you saying, John?” She checked her magazine and peered out the window for any flashing lights.
“Athena, what if the reason we didn’t whack this guy before is because Langley didn’t want him dead? What if they needed his research? What if we’re running our own bio-enhancement program?” Athena took a step back and leaned against what was left of the bedroom wall. She exhaled.
“Fuck.” She tried to absorb all the implications, her brain racing against the clock to figure things out before they were on the run from the German authorities.
“And what if…” Her eyes lit up, realizing what was really going on.
“…What if the reason we can’t find our mole, is because they’re part of the program?”
To be continued…
John and Athena will return in the EX SUPRA sequel: Project Duality, about the synthetic biology revolution of the 2030s, set to the backdrop of a global US-China conflict. The story you just read will feed into Project Duality. If you haven’t yet read EX SUPRA, the Prometheus Award-nominated novel about the future of war between the US and China. You can buy it, here.
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