Two days in Cherbourg were good for rest, refocusing, and research. The trip to Bournemouth was less than a day, and storing the ship in a good slip among many similar vessels was easy. Using a different set of covers, the team made its way back to London via train, and converged in a mediocre hotel north of Greenwich, a few blocks from Cross-Angel Cold Storage. After conducting some on-site surveillance, the team decided to penetrate the surprisingly well-secured building, with Laxton and Bart staying outside in overwatch while Asa, Aoife, and Krish entered the to see what could be found to explain the strange power consumption and security measures.
Inside the building, Krish was able to break into the local network and determine that, in effect, there were two facilities: one was above ground and legitimate; the other, in two sub-basements, was impossible to nail down from above but could only be entered through one of two additional security doors. Aoife and Asa, after gaining access to a stairwell, made their way down and discovered two brick chambers full of plexiglass tubes, inside of which were people, strapped to gurnies and connected to tubes and IVs, bubbling away in a viscous, reddish-milky fluid. Before being found out by guards they were able to take a sample and, after a brief firefight, escape.
Bart, using portable lab equipment and some chemical test strips, determined that the fluid was about 2/3 blood plasma, maybe 30% amnionic fluid, and another few percent red blood cells, along with some preservative chemicals and anti-coagulants. This hazy goop was kept at about 55 degrees F and was being circulated around the bodies, and perhaps pumped into them – it was impossible to tell for sure, given the lighting, circumstances, and brief time around them.
Closing out the episode at Cross-Angel Cold Storage was Laxton, who watched through a scope as four individuals – three men and a short, light-haired woman, entered the complex from a side door, probably in response to what had taken place downstairs. After trying to photograph them he discovered that the female – who moved in an unusual, fluid manner, did not appear on film.
In addition to this, the team discovered the following through research and network contacts:
- Cross-Angel Cold Storage is owned by CP Daniels, LLC, a shell company owned by HGD Shipping. HGD itself was formed over a century ago when several existing maritime shipping outfits joined, led by two firms: one in Varna (called Hunyadi) and the other in London. HGD's HQ is in London, with a secondary in Varna, opened after the fall of the Iron Curtain. C-A does all its business with HGD or its other subsidiaries, or Axel Logistics.
- Axel Logistics is a London-based ground delivery company that has gobbled up other, smaller, shippers over the last few decades. It runs trucks all over Europe.
- Billington and Sons is an old law firm that handles the papers and property of the moderately wealthy. Founded by Samuel F. Billington in 1877, it is still in family hands, and is currently run by Rodney Beckwith, a direct descendant of the Billingtons. The firm handled the domestic shipment of 50 boxes of soil from the Demeter after it crashed in Whitby. The firm is, and always has been, based in Whitby. It also handles the licenses and paperwork for Cross-Angel.
- Thad Morris, adventure photographer and journalist, is definitely CIA, as evidenced by his secure blog (see the public version here). His travels from over the last 8 years overlap a number of global events and hotspots, and he has the markings of a troubleshooter and intra-agency fixed, checking in on ops here and there within a defined portfolio.
- Bart sent a message, through a network contact, to Thad, seeking direct contact.
There is very little time to decide what to do if you want to confront whatever it is that's at Cross-Angel – that is, the thing that doesn't photograph. By the time Laxton returns and shares what he saw, Bart will have completed the basic tests on the goop and about 30 minutes will have passed since the entire team left the area. The woman and her flunkies showed up about 20 minutes ago, and Laxton is either on his way back and sharing by comms, or just got back and is very out of breath.