I start this chapter in my room at the hotel Gostinitsa in Leningrad. My inventory has been cleaned out, and I’ve received some new items. I’m now carrying 300 rubles, a camera, my ID, a transmitter with a mic and a receiver with a tape recorder. I’ve also been given some orders on a piece of paper and some intel on Leningrad KGB officers.
In chapter 1, I, playing as KGB Captain Maksim Rukov, have discovered a group of Moscow criminals, ( perhaps mafia-related, ) who are producing nasty snuff videos. At the end of the chapter, I found a coded message that revealed that one of the thugs, Romeo, has scheduled a meeting in Ladoga park in Leningrad, aug. 16 at 3 pm As per my instructions, I am to observe and photograph this meeting without being detected, then follow up new leads and suspects. Since this is merely a surveillance operation, I will not intervene in any affairs by the suspects. I should also avoid provoking officers at Department 7. Knowing me, that last bit will probably be the hardest….
Department 7 is, of course, a branch of the KGB residing here in Leningrad. As mentioned, I’ve received some intel on the officers there in advance, to prepare myself. There are four officers mentioned:
Colonel Kusnetsov - Chief of Department 7. Responsible for the surveillance of foreign tourists in Leningrad. Has been accused of abusing his position for personal gain, but no proof has been presented.
Major Agabekov - Second in command. A war hero from Afghanistan. Seems to be highly regarded by his peers.
Captain Chapkin - Operational officer. Colonel Kusnetsov’s son-in-law. There is some speculation that he may be involved in criminal activities with Kusnetsov.
Captain Drobnitsa - Administrative officer. His superiors don’t seem to hold him in particularly high esteem. His evaluation notes that his lack of enthusiasm makes him not very eligible for promotion.
I bet we’ll get to check them out later, but for now, I’m more interested in my current surroundings. I take a look around in my hotel room. There’s a bed and a table with a phone, and empty dresser and two doors. I would guess one of them leads to the bathroom, and the other to the hallway outside. As I try to go through the bathroom door, the phone rings. I pick it up and hear an unknown voice:
“S3I4S4R7B5S3R7S5I4S4I3R5B3S3….” and so on, for a couple of pages.
A coded message! But how to decode it….? As far as I can see, the numbers used only go from 2 to 7, and the letters used are S I R B O…. oh, BORIS! From the phone message. Actually, I don’t see any 6’s. So the numbers correspond with the digits in the phone number I was provided. If I pick up the phone, I can call the number, but a voice answers and tells me “You didn’t read the message, Rukov. Try again”. Ok, so this is clearly meant for me. Hmm, how do I solve this…. Letters and numbers are alternating all the time. There’s always a letter first, and then a number, like a pair. I try various alphabet-tricks, like with “S3 I4 S4” - moving 3 letters left or right from S, then 4 letters left or right from I, and so on. But it doesn’t produce anything I recognize as english words. Sigh..
I put the coded message away for a moment and check out the other call options on the phone. I try calling the reception, but they’re undergoing some sort of overhaul due to their progressive modernization plan. Which basically means that all of their services are unavailable, so in other words, no breakfast in bed. I can also call KGB Moscow, so I figure I’ll prank call Belov again. For old times sake. But the operator tells me the call can’t be put through at this time. The same goes for Vovlov and Galushkin. But I can also call Guzenko, the tech guy, who provided me with my gadgets. He gives me an interesting dialogue option:
|Good ole’ Guz|
Doing this I derive this string:
“ENOHPEHTNODRAEHUOYREBMUNEHTLAIDNEHTNOISSECCUSNISEMITEERHTFFODNANOTHGILMOORRUOYHCTIWSEVILOTTNAWUOYFI”The words are clearly backwards and without spaces, so it’s pretty easy to reverse the letters and split them up, which produces this message:
“IF YOU WANT TO LIVE SWITCH YOUR ROOM LIGHT ON AND OFF THREE TIMES IN SUCCESSION THEN DIAL THE NUMBER YOU HEARD ON THE PHONE”.I’ve had variable success with light switches in this game, but this sounds like something I should do. I flick the lights on and off three times as prescribed, then call the number I was given.
A man answers. He wants me to meet up in the alley behind my hotel at 7 pm this evening. He’ll identify himself by saying “Cut-throat”, and I’ll respond by him showing my ID. He’ll want certain information about the video cassette operation:
- Who’s holding the cassettes in Leningrad
- Who’s acting as go-between for the Moscow and Leningrad gangs
- Who’s going to transport the cassettes out of Russia
- What will the cassettes be exchanged for
- Who is Mr X
Of course, I don’t have any of this information, so I’ll have to find a way to figure it out… Anyway, with nothing more to do in my room, I head out to the hallway. There are several doors, probably leading to other hotel rooms. I try them all, for good measure, and one actually opens. It’s an empty room, like mine, but I don’t find anything useful there. Maybe there will be later.
I head down to the reception. I can talk to the receptionist and give him my opinion on their service ( he’s not going to get a tip ). As with a lot of other NPCs we can discuss various topics, political or otherwise, and if I want to, I can give him some serious lip about his opinions.
|This time it’s MY turn to be Belov|
Now, for the sake of completion, I DID try to find out what would happen if I left the hotel without complying with the instructions from the coded message, and you may not be terribly surprised to learn that I was killed by a gunshot the moment I stepped outside.
Outside the hotel is a phone booth. I can go left around the corner and into an alley with a couple of trashcans. Good to know, should I need to dump any more dead bodies…. Further down past the alley is a street, along a canal with a bridge over it. If I continue, I can choose a destination to travel to. I can also travel directly from the hotel entrance. At the moment my only possible destination is Department 7, so I go there.
|I’d like to see this guy and Vovlov do a grump-off|
When I get up, another guard also wants to see my pass, and then takes me to see colonel Kusnetsov, who is happy to see m…
|So... I didn’t have you at hello?|
I can’t backtrack far enough, so I just restart the chapter, and play through again. This time I leave everything except my ID and rubles on the table in my hotel room. Kusnetsov is more forthcoming now, though he still tells me that Department P is not very popular within the rest of the KGB, going so far as to call the creation of the department a treacherous act. I guess they don’t like people who want to police the police. He doesn’t have anything to contribute to my investigation, but I’m allowed to talk to the other officers. The guard comes in and takes me straight to major Agabekov.
As I enter, major Agabekov stubs the remainder of a cigar, and throws it in his trashcan. He tells me to wait while he finishes some paperwork. It’s a little bit strange, but maybe he’s trying to establish his authority by making me wait. While I’m waiting I can look at things in his office, but not interact with anything. I manage to read the number off his phone, but not much more. I decide to just forward time a bit, and he’s ready right after.
|Ah, my reputation precedes me|
After exhausting all conversation options, I go out to check on the other officers. Captain Drobnitsa. His job is to “execute the essential administrative tasks of the department”. How very generic. I half get out of him that he has a hand in most business that passes through the department. Maybe he can be useful later.
|Yeah, keep telling yourself that|
Finding nothing more to do at Department 7, it’s time to go to Ladoga park, but first I need to pick up my spy gear at the hotel room. I hurry back, get my bug, recorder and camera and then travel to the park. I arrive a couple of minutes before the meeting is supposed to take place. Of notable things, there’s a tree, a statue of Lenin and a bench. I figure I should try out this transmitter-thingy, so I place it on the bench, since that’s the place they’re most likely to be. I then hide behind the tree and wait. After a while a man enters, and sits down on the bench. I start recording and wait a little bit longer, then suddenly Romeo enters
|The symbol on the left is Rukov hiding behind a tree. In case you were wondering.|
They split up, and I have to decide which lead to follow. The last guy said he was going to the department. Well, I already know where that is, so go with my initial decision and follow mr. briefcase. Good call. He leads me to a warehouse. I get a warning from the game that the suspect is about to punch in a code on a keypad, and it’s imperative that I see the code. Well, my camera may not be able to take pictures, but hopefully the zoom still works. Luckily it does. I manage to see the code: 14C9A. He goes into the warehouse, and shortly after comes out without the briefcase. Right next to the warehouse is a bar, which he enters.
Ok, snooping time. I punch the code and slip into the warehouse unnoticed.
|Haha, what if I just take the briefcase now. I’m sure Vovlov will think that’s funny|
I figure that the other window could lead to the next-door bar, so I head there to check it out. The briefcase guy is there, along with the bartender and another drunk. Talking to them leads to nothing but trouble, so I head through a door that leads to the bathroom and a staircase that goes up to an attic with ta-da… a skylight window, which I can open. I now have an extra way to the warehouse. I can also unlock the window in the bathroom, so I have a complete path into the warehouse without being seen. Now if I leave through the bathroom window, then later go in through the front entrance to the bar, the bartender will be suspicious and throw me out. He will also lock the bathroom window again, but not the skylight window, so I’m not dead-ended. I can’t show my face in the bar anymore, though.
|A recurring theme in this game is how friendly everyone is|
After some time a new suspect will arrive by car at the warehouse. He’ll talk to his accomplice, the suitcase guy and after a little while yet another suspect will arrive, talk to car guy and then leave. Then come back again. I have to record and/or listen in on their conversations to get answers for myself and for this Cut-throat, who I’m meeting later.
On my first attempt, I put the transmitter on the desk in the office, hide in the attic, then start the recorder when I hear the guy with the car arrive. After waiting for a while, I listen to the recordings through the headphones that came with the recorder, but some of them are too far away from my transmitter. So I backtrack and experiment with climbing down at various times and sneaking about, to see if I can pick up some conversation tidbits. Oh btw, fun fun: Car guy has a dog, with which I got VERY familiar during this section:
|His bark couldn’t possibly be worse than his bite|
|Had I known the stakes were this high, I wouldn’t have entered a soviet quiz show|
He goes inside and heads for the hotel bar, so I follow. After a little while, who shows up, but major Agabekov?! I’ve apparently levelled my hiding skill to max, since none of them spot me, even though I’m not even actively hiding. They chat a bit, then move to the reception again. I follow, and they still don’t see me. They chat a bit more, then they both leave. I go outside in time to see Agabekov leave in a car with registration number KU210. Not sure if that’s important or not, but now we have it on record.
|Is it just me, or does the bartender seem to have unnaturally long arms?|
Time is starting to run out on me. I can’t get my transmitter back, since car guy is still in the office, so I’ll have to leave it for later. I pick up my recorder, rewind it, then listen to all the recordings to prepare myself for Cut-throat. Finally I leave and go back to my hotel. I get there with 11 minutes to spare.
To sum up the information I’ve uncovered, that Cut-throat wants to know:
- The guys in the warehouse are called Mechulaiev and Savchenko. They handle the tapes in Leningrad
- A guy named Yakuchev acts as a go-between for Savchenko and Romeo’s gang
- The tapes will be transported out of Russia tomorrow by someone named Viktor Matsnev
- In return for the tapes, the thugs will receive a shipment of crack
- As for the identity of Mr. X, that seems to be major Agabekov
Cut-throat is satisfied with my answers, and tells me he represents a group of people who are interested in the truth. They are working on discovering and eliminating threats to the Soviet Union.
|Must… resist… Trump…. jokes…|
Very well. My next move now is to get up to my hotel room and wait for my controller, who should arrive at 7.30. But that’s for my next post. до свидания!