Andrew was rudely awakened by the loud telephone ring on the nightstand beside him. He fumbled to reach for it in the dark before finally answering. “This is Harrington,” his voice sounded brusque and throaty. “Harrington, this is Zaehner. I apologize for the early rising, old chap, but I need you at the embassy right away. I’ve sent a car to pick you up. It should be there in fifteen minutes.”
“Yes sir, I’ll be ready.” Andrew got out of bed, fumbled for the lights and squinted irritably as they came on. Starting to undress he took a cursory look at the clock by the bed. “Four-thirty. Does the man ever sleep?”
Andrew walked into Robin Zaehner‘s office just over 30 minutes after being roused. Impeccably dressed in a dark suit, hair flawlessly combed, shoes spotlessly clean. He looked at the two other men sitting around Zaehner’s desk. “Ah, Harrington, come in, come in please. Have a seat.” invited Zaehner and motioned Andrew to an empty chair by his desk. The man was polite, but his furrowed brow meant something was obviously troubling him.
“Gentlemen,” he continued without waiting for Harrington to sit down, “I’ve called you here on a matter of great concern. Our source at the TPMO has informed us that the” NKVD “is tapping all their resources to frantically search for a Mr. Nesim Aliyev. They’re circulating this picture around to their sources.”
“A Nazi infantry-man?” asked one of the other men in the office, a medium sized man, dressed in an impeccable SAS uniform.
“It appears so,” paused Zaehner to take a sip of his tea, “we don’t know much about this chap except that he appears to have fought in the Wehrmacht. Our analyst believe he is Azeri, so it’s most probable that he was enlisted into the” Ostlegionen “during the war. Why the Soviets are pulling all the stops to apprehend him is a mystery, but obviously anything this important to the Soviets becomes a matter of importance to the British Crown. Now, I’ve asked you here because I want you to find this man before the NKVD does and bring him into our custody. We need to question him and ascertain why he is so bloody important. It is up to you, but I recommend beginning your search at the Azerbaijani section just outside the Old City.”
Sensing no further questions Zaehner dismissed the men, “Time is of the essence, gentlemen, we’re up against the NKVD on this one.”
The three men stood and left Zaehner’s office and took a moment to introduce themselves. The man dressed in the SAS uniform was Lieutenant Dudley Smiles, a martial arts expert and trained commando who fought in the war. The other was Colin O’Brien, an Irish born agent who’d served in the SAS as well, but was now on active reserve. The three of them had been recruited into the SIS after Serpentfall and were all well versed in the middle east.
The Search for Nesim
As advised, the three men travelled to the Azerbaijani neighborhood in the Southern end of the city to meet one of Andrew’s local contacts, Mahmoud Rahimi. Rahimi, told the men that a man fitting Nesim’s description caused a disturbance two days ago at the Tabriz Teahouse (area #54). The police were called, but the man was not apprehended. Rahimi, told the PCs that the man, was sweating badly and appeared to be sick. He had open sores on his hands and face and were secreting some type of substance.
The heroes head to the nearby police station and demand to speak to the Police Lieutenant. After a tense confrontation with the desk sergeant, the Lieutenant was called. O’Brien and Harrington attempted to persuade the Lieutenant that there was an eminent health risk at the tea house, but the man would not agree to close the establishment. The men argued for several minutes and were not getting anywhere fast. Harrington, slipped the lieutenant a bribe and the officer reluctantly agreed to first talk to the officer who had responded to the disturbance call. Officer Abbas Rahmar, confirmed that it was reported than the man appeared sick, but did not actually see the man. He had been identified as “Nesim” and fit the description. The lieutenant grudgingly agreed to have the heroes investigate the incident further.
The characters talked to Omar Tardiz the owner of the tea house. The man confirmed that a man who called himself “Nesim” caused a disturbance two days ago. Tardiz told the PCs that the man became agitated at one of the patrons who was preaching about the benefits of communism. Nesim accused the Soviets of kidnapping Azeris in Armenia SSR and conducting experiments on them. Tardiz also confirmed that the man appeared sick. when questioned, none of the patrons or employees had gotten sick since the incident.
As the heroes were concluding their investigation, officer Rahmar entered the tea house and offered a file given to him by the lieutenant with three possible addresses for Aliyev families in the city—one of which was close by in the Azerbaijani neighborhood. The men recruited officer Rahmar and headed on foot toward the address.
Caught in the Crossfire
As the four men neared the Aliyev residence, they noticed a black Soviet sedan parked in front of their destination. An elderly woman is being held by four Persian Army soldiers. Another three men, dressed in cream colored suits were arguing with the soldiers. Officer Rahman approached the scene and questioned the men. One of the cream colored suited men produced a Shahrbani identification and told the officer that he did not have jurisdiction. The Shahrbani agents were demanding that the soldiers hand over custody of the woman, but the soldiers refused. The situation spun out of control when the Shahrbani agent attempted to arrest the soldiers. The soldiers opened fire killing one of the Sharbani agents, and the other agents returned fire. Rahmar, too confused to know how to handle the situation ran away. In the confusion, O’brien ran into the line of fire and removed the woman to safety, Smiles subdued two of the remaining Shahrdani agents with an impressive use of martial arts, while Harrington fired at the soldiers. The three way fight was over quickly. Smiles collected the Shahrbano agent’s and soldiers’ identifications, while the rest of the heroes convinced the woman to get in the car. The heroes left the scene in the black sedan before the police arrived.
The heroes calmed the woman down and explained that they are trying to help her son who is obviously very sick. The PCs charms work on the old woman and she told them that her family left the area known today as the Armenia SSR in the early 1900’s do to tensions between the Arminian population and the Azeri. The family settled in Tehran where Aydan married Nesim’s father, also an Azeri immigrant, in 1918. Nesim was born the third of nine children in 1923. Of which only Nesim and his sister, Jala remain alive. Most others succumbed to disease, war or childbirth.
Nesim was always curious about his roots and went to join the Soviets in defense of their ancestral homeland from the Nazis. The Soviet invasion of Iran in 1941, and his subsequent disillusionment with communism, compiled with the Soviet prejudice against the Azeri, led Nerim to join the Ostlegionen in 1942.
Nesrim was nearly captured in Italy by Allied forces in 1944, but escaped and deserted his unit. He was caught by Soviet troops attempting to cross into the Caucus and sent to prison. The family did not hear from Nesrim after 1944, until he returned home three days ago.
He claimed to have been moved through various prison camps in the USSR, until being shipped to a military base in the town of Meghri in Armenia SSR. There he claimed he was subjected to unspeakable experiments along with many others. An accident at the base allowed him to escape in the confusion and he made his way home. Days after leaving the base, he began to feel sick. At first he was feverish, but slowly, his condition worsened until his skin began to break and secrete. The family doctor diagnosed him with leprosy and two days ago his sister Jala and Aydan drove him to a makeshift leper colony about 70 km east of the city, near the village of Abali.
The Leper Colony
The PCs and Nesim’s mother, Aydan, leave the sedan in Abali and walk toward the mountain side colony a mile outside of town. When they arrive, the PCs discovered that all the resident’s of the colony have been murdered. Their bodies had been torned to shreds. They discover a number of “giant-alligator” footprints leading to one of the caves that served as homes for some. In the cave, the PCs discovered the entrance to a Qanat, an ancient Persian underground aqueduct. The PCs loot some supplies from the colony and entered the Qanat. Deep underground, they are ambushed by a group of humanoid-snake-headed-men. Harrington is poisoned and is near death, but otherwise the characters killed the remaining snakemen. On closer examination, it appeared that the snakemen were dressed in tattered clothing consistent with the style worn by the villagers and likely the lepers in the colony. O’brien used his medical kit and medical training to suck the poison out from Harrington and the man seemed to recover.
The characters continued deeper into the Qanat until they reached a large chamber where a ten foot tall snake-headed creature sat in a corner as in a trance. The PCs approached the creature who seemed lost in his own world. His facial features were not completely in the form of a snake like those they previously fought—he still held some semblance of humanity—and he looked like Nesim Aliyev. Harrington attempted to talk to the creature, but was ignored until he mentioned Nesim’s mother. The creature came out of his trance like state and approached the PCs, slurring his mother’s name. Harrington and O’Brien continued to attempt to bring the humanity back and reason with the creature but without warning, the creature once again went insane and attacked the PCs. A savage fight ensued, but the creature appeared to have regenerative powers. The characters feared they would not be able to bring Nesim in alive, when they managed to bring the creature down long enough to tie him and the heroes brought Nesim and Aydan into British custody.