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I Spy Mission Log - Entry 01

Individually, everyone is called to sit-down with their superiors concerning a low-profile mission with potentially global implications. Armed only with the location of the Mission Briefing and a accompanying airline tickets, each pawn of intrigue travels forth.

Each agent is called to a Mission Briefing at a United Nations Security Council safehouse in Christchurch, New Zealand.

The place is of the rather standard safehouse type, a ten bedroom plantation house complete with servant's quarters and surrounded by a quaint cast iron fence. Resting against the fence in the shade of an old willow tree, is a fairly fit man in his mid thirties, dressed in light gray suit and sunglasses. He looks as though he's waiting for the next bus.

Not too far away at the street corner, a woman in a straight red dress, cut above the ankle, is leaning over the door of a black Stingray, conversing freely with the driver. Exchanging giggles, a smile and a nod, they are oblivious the world around them.

Shortly thereafter, a solid muscular man, with thick red hair and beard arrives. Dressed in slacks, shirt and sport coat, he comfortably makes his way across the street toward the house. Checking the number once, he steps inside the gate in the fence, strides confidently across the lawn and disappears into the house.

After a while, one of the front doors of the safehouse (but not the main door by the circular drive) opens and a tall athletic man, with a face apparently chiseled from granite, briskly strides toward the front pedestrian gate. Unlatching the gate, he steps out onto the sidewalk. Frowning, he taps his military issue wristwatch and mutters, "Twenty minutes late? Who do these guys think they are?"

As he turns back toward the house, a jaguar pulls up to the house and parks in front of a fire hydrant. Out of the car, it makes the familiar chirp of an alarm being activated. The well-built man has very short auburn hair and is dressed in contemporary office casual.

About the same time the boyfriend's car squeals off, a beat-up dark brown sedan pulls up and four ill-meaning thugs take to the sidewalk, armed with knives and blackjacks. Intent on both the woman and the owner of the jag, they split up.

Ironically the woman, although in a tightfitting off-the-shoulder dress, is fairing better against her opponents than the guy. She has one subdued and still manages to fend off the second. The man, on the other hand, has his back to the fence and barely able to keep his assailants away from his face.

The colonel suspects he know exactly who the lackluster defender is, and heads over to help. At the end of his patience, he sweeps behind one of the attackers and locks him into a sleeper hold. Certainly not expected this much resistance, the two remaining thugs flee back to their getaway car, and drive off.

Hefting his unconscious man over his shoulder, the colonel walks over to assist the woman with hers. The assailed man just shakes himself off and heads toward the house. After two and with their two "pals" head inside, the man by the fence stops leaning against the fence and looks around.

A New Zealand transit authority bus pulls up and lets off one passenger, a woman in good shape with longish brown hair and light curls. She steps away, checks her handbag, and makes her way to the house. The man by the fence is obviously surprised, as if he didn't actually expect a bus to stop here, but he tries to conceal his astonishment. He follows her inside at some distance.

Once in the great hall entryway, official looking men take the unconscious ruffians off your hands. You are all then led to a large conference room filled with cherry furniture. Seated at the table already are the solidly muscular and bearded man from before, and two new people: a short portly fellow with Ben Franklin glasses in his early fifties and balding with curly gray hair, and woman in her mid-twenties with dark hair and reddish eyes, wearing a finely pressed corporate suit.

After everyone has taken a seat, the older man stands and introduces himself only as Zeb. Turning down the lights, he explains the geography, history, and current status of the assignment, with the aid of an archaic slide projector.

"Whiteout Base is located on a flat, icy island at 64 degrees 15 minutes south, 60 degrees 30 minutes west, ten miles away from Camp Perez. It is situated on property claimed by Great Britain, Chile, and Argentina. Estimates of its human population range from 80 to 120."

Changing slides from a map of Antarctica to a black-and-white photograph, Zeb continues.

"In 1947, President Gabriel Gonzalez Videla of Chile established several research stations to reinforce his country's claim to the Antarctic peninsula. Although geothermal activity was detected very close to the site in question, the station was abandoned after two years because the Chilean government was unwilling to finance its continued operation.

"The site lay dormant and unoccupied until 1981, when Atlantis Enterprises contacted Salvador Allende Gossens (the new president of Chile) and offered to buy the station. Both Argentina and Britain protested the sale of the station on the basis of the international treaty of 1959 which stated that no person, organization, or government may own land in Antarctica until 1999. Allende ignored their protests and sold the station to Atlantis Enterprises.

"Beginning five months ago, routine satellite reconnaissance of Antarctica showed evidence of construction and expansion at the Atlantis site. Best information suggests that Atlantis Enterprises has revived an old association with an ultra-survivalist group, the Children of Neptune (CON). This group has been connected with subversive activities including drug trafficking, the selling of military secrets, and the counterfeiting of Swiss francs.

"Only in the last year has any detailed information surfaced about CON. The agency has thwarted two CON operations (the Floating Island Mission and the Mercenary Atoll Mission). The purpose behind the construction of a floating island and a nuclear-powered floating dry-dock can only be guessed at. Plans and blueprints belonging to CON have been discovered for entire floating cities and submarine cities. Now, it is apparent that CON is on the way to assembling one of these future-survival cities in Antarctica.

"Atlantis Enterprises has ignored all attempts at contact by the Scientific Committee for Antarctic Research (SCAR) and governmental agencies of several countries. Each time an aircraft approaches the research station and requests landing instructions, the pilot is informed that the airfield is under localized whiteout conditions and is advised to fly to another nearby research outpost if the craft must set down. (Localized whiteouts are not uncommon in Antarctica, but the reported whiteout conditions at the Atlantis base have become so prevalent that the research station is known to outsiders as 'Whiteout Base.')

"It is known that research is carried on at Whiteout Base, even though exact discoveries and experiments have not been reported to the scientific community. Outside researchers hypothesize that the residents of Whiteout Base are involved in agricultural and geothermal energy research."

Shifting slightly, Zeb continues.

"Responding to the urgings of SCAR members, the UN Security Council decided to inspect the research station. A little more than two weeks ago, a plan was conceived to have a team of SCAR scientists, including a representative of the Security Council, fly to the research station in an effort to open a line of scientific communication between the station and other Antarctic bases.

"The scientific team embarked, flew toward the research station, and requested landing instructions. The pilot was informed that severe whiteout conditions over the airfield made landing impossible. The scientists feigned radio failure, approached unchallenged, and landed safely - under clear skies.

"The scientists were greeted at the airport by a guard who was efficient but not hostile. He transported them to the research station, which looks from the surface like a cluster of greenhouses.

"The team stayed in the complex as visitors for about 24 hours. They were given tours by qualified personnel of certain areas of the complex, and were politely but firmly denied access to other locations. They were under constant personal supervision by at least one guard, in addition to any tour guides.

"When the scientists tried to question personnel about the 'whiteout' ruse, everyone claimed to know nothing about it except the leader of the outpost, who identified himself as William Billeter, Canadian by birth, and the head administrator of the complex called Atlantis II. Billeter explained that airport personnel are instructed to discourage casual visitors by claiming a whiteout exists, because the station's work is centered around self-sufficiency, and too much interaction with the outside world would defeat the purpose of their research. Billeter assured them that when visitors do land, they are treated cordially but encouraged to leave fairly promptly.

"The leader explained further that Atlantis II was involved in researching agriculture in polar regions, with the intent of achieving self-sufficiency. He said the project is funded by Atlantis Enterprises. The scientists identified themselves and explained the reason for their visit. Billeter agreed to their request to set up a temporary outpost about 500 yards southeast of Atlantis II to conduct their own research, and allowed the team to maintain constant radio contact from their base.

"The scientists used the outpost to keep 24-hour surveillance on Atlantis II. Activity outside the complex was almost negligible, much less than would be expected for a base of its size. No aircraft or ground vehicles arrived or departed during the surveillance period, which lasted more than 11 days. During this time, the scientists made brief, scheduled visits to the complex every three days to exchange meteorological data. Their requests for other information were refused."

Zeb pauses to drink from his water glass.

"On day 12 of the surveillance, Geiger counters at the scientists' camp detected significant levels of radiation emanating from Atlantis II. They contacted the base, asked about the cause, and were told that information was privileged. The' scientists detected the source as a cloud of radioactive steam that was airborne and beginning to drift. They requested permission to leave the base, and were told that their plane would be ready for takeoff in one hour.

"They abandoned camp, keeping all their surveillance records and notes on the complex, as well as maps and photographs they had procured at Atlantis II. Just after taking off, they contacted the UN Security Council and sent a coded radio message concerning the radioactive cloud. Shortly thereafter, the Ellsworth base had this contact with the SCAR aircraft, at 1000 hours on June 2."

Zeb plays the radio contact recording through an old reel-to-reel.

"Ellsworth, this is Penguin One. Come in, Ellsworth. Over."
"This is Ellsworth. We read you, Penguin One. Over."
"Ellsworth, we are airborne from Whiteout Base. Prepare to receive a complete report as soon as we land at Ellsworth. Our ETA is 1200 hours. Over and Out."
"We'll be ready for you, Penguin One. This is Ellsworth, over and out."

"One hour later, this message was received from Penguin One."

"Ellsworth, this is Penguin One. Do you copy, Ellsworth? Over."
"We copy, Penguin One. This is Ellsworth. Over."
"Ellsworth, we are having fuel problems. We've just passed our PNR and the gauges are dropping fast. We'll try to put her down on the Filchner Ice Shelf Our current position is 73 degrees South, 47 degrees West. We're going down."

"There was no further contact." Switching on the lights, Zeb retakes his seat.

"Because of the mystery about what happened to Penguin One, the Security Council has decided to increase the intensity of its investigation of Atlantis II. SCAR intends to send an investigative team to Atlantis II to discover the source of the radioactive steam, the complete plans of William Billeter, and his intended means of achieving his goals. The group has contacted your agencies to submit members for such a team. Violence is to be kept to a minimum.

"Your team and its equipment will be transported from Christchurch, New Zealand, to Ellsworth Base, Antarctica. At Ellsworth your team is to immediately report to Dr. Michael T. Jameson for supplemental verbal instructions. Jameson can be found in the base library. He is an agency contact working for the UN Security Council.

"It is suggested that your team transport all issued equipment from New Zealand, since Antarctic bases are poorly equipped for espionage missions. A limited supply of cold-weather equipment, food, water, and vehicles can be obtained from any Antarctic base."

After the lengthy briefing, Zeb introduces everyone in the room and gives their particular area of expertise:

- Fairly fit man in his mid thirties: Michael Kerr - CIA counter-espionage
- Woman in a straight red dress: Sue Martin - MI6 secret service agent
- Solid muscular man, with thick red hair and beard: Robert Brennan - CIA counter-terrorism
- Tall athletic man, face of granite: Col. Robert Hogan Jr. - DOD tactical analyst
- Well-built man with very short auburn hair: Tim McHale - CIA computer and electronic security
- Woman in good shape with longish brown hair: Anna Bargli - Italian secret service agent
- Woman in mid-thirties with dark hair and reddish eyes: Miss Hemingway - freelance - William Billeter is a pet project

Folding his arms across his chest, he then asks, "Any questions?"

Anna Baragli Shadowcat Tim McHale Michael Kerr
Sue Martin Robert Brennan Col. Hogan Jack Thompson