"What are the holes in the floor?"
"That's where they took the bomb rack off. This is a converted bomber."
It's on that cheery note that the team land in Ashkabad airport. The countdown is somewhere in the wilderness of Ahal, in the middle of Turkmenistan. They have approximately sixteen hours before something bad happens - and Observation has absolutely no idea what.
"Anything to declare?"
"Er... a sniper rifle, four machine rifles, lots of ammo, several packs of C4...a pair of LAW rockets...and this rather large bribe."
One short debate about transport later ("let's look up the British embassy and request transport!" "No, we don't have time! To Crazy Mustafa's All-Nite Soviet Surplus Store!"), the team are on their way in a truck. As they drive out of Ashkabad, they see the gas flares and refineries of the massive Gazprom facility.
Observation finally manage to get a fix - or rather, three fixes. One point seems to be in the mountains, one south of the mountains, and the last point to the north. After some debate (and being shot at by someone in the darkness), they decide to check out the potential disaster point to the south, which is closest to the road. They soon find a camp, and notice one rather out-of-place piece of equipment, a brand-new radio transceiver. They tune their JANUS boxes to that frequency so they can eavesdrop, but before they can investigate fully, dawn breaks and the camp wakes up. Smeil and Evans, who were sneaking around the camp, manage to avoid being spotted, but the nomads see the truck where LeBlanc and Black are waiting.
For a moment, it looks like a firefight will break out, but one of the nomads walks up to the truck and says "you are Kurt?" in broken English.
"Yes", replies Black confidently. "I'm Mr. Kurt.".
The nomads break camp and head north, accompanying the truck to the 'meeting place.' Apparently, they were waiting for a heavily armed European to show up. The team confer psychically and agree to play along. Smeil and Evans stay behind to wait for the real Kurt.
On the drive through the mountains, LeBlanc happens to mention the sniper who shot at them as they drove from Ashkabad. The nomad chief frowns and sends three riders back to deal with it. As soon as the nomads are out of earshot, LeBlanc contacts Smeil and Evans to warn them that they might have company soon...
...or, more accurately, more company. A white Landrover is approaching. Mr. Kurt is here...
Smeil takes out his sniper rifle and decides that taking out the tyres is the best approach. The landrover's driver manages to keep it from spinning out of control.
In the mountains, the nomads lead Black and LeBlanc to a particular pass. There, they meet a convoy of two Russian army trucks. It appears that the characters have stumbled onto an arms deal. A dead-eyed soldier has one very simple question for the two: "where is the money?"
The truck, they soon discover, is full of very big and well-armed men, who do not take well to Smeil shooting their tyres. Between the sniper rifle and Evans' psychic control, the two JANUS agents are able to hold the line against Kurt's men. While controlling one of the mercs, Evans spots an older man franctically fiddling with a radio handset...
...and Black notices the nomad's radio crackle. He telekinetically sabotages it, and listens to the transmission on his JANUS earpiece. It's Kurt, who is screaming at the nomads to stop shooting at him. It seems to be a day for mistaken identities. Meanwhile, LeBlanc attempts to stall the Russians by asking to see the merchandise first. In the back of the Russian truck are several large conical devices. He trains the camera on his JANUS box at them, and Control is able to identify as nuclear mines.
While Smeil picks off the nomads approaching from the north with his sniper rifle, Evans deals with the last of the thugs from the van. He controls the mind of one and has him charge into the rest while pulling the pins from his grenades. Boom. The mercenaries defeated, Evans and Smeil capture Mr. Kurt and his very heavy briefcase. Opening it, they find that it is filled with gold Kruggerands.
The gold is south of the mountains.
The heavily-armed Russians who want the gold are north of the mountains.
If only they hadn't blown up that nice fast landrover...
While Black bluffs, stalls and is basically very snooty and English at the Russians, LeBlanc drives their battered truck back across the mountains at very, very high speed. Evans psychically interrogates Kurt. He's a Nazi! A real, genuine, hiding-out-in-South-America one. Evans gets a telepath flash of a strange device in a laboratory, some sort of dimensional communications device.
LeBlanc arrives, picks up the gold, does a handbrake turn and zooms back across the mountains, desperately trying to get back before the Russians turn on Black (or, knowing Black, before Black does something disturbing with his electrical powers). Just before the Russians get too antsy and the AK-47s come out, the truck enters the pass.
The exchange is made, and JANUS suddenly owns three surplus Russian mines.
Countdown over. Later investigation reveals that Kurt intended to use the mines to blow up the gas fields. They find detailed geological plans suggesting that the resulting explosion would have made Krakatoa look like a Christmas cracker. It would likely have been an extinction-level event...
JANUS promises to dispatch a team to South America, to investigate the Nazi connection there.
* Much lighter tone than last week
* I'm missing a load of jokes, because I waited too long to blog this. Oops.
* One big problem with the campaign setup is the need to come up with a world-shattering threat every week. Finding threats that endanger the whole planet, but can be stopped within 24 hours by a small team and fit into a single session is very hard. Making each threat 3-4 episodes long might have worked better, but that takes away from the tv-ness of it all.