A leaked confidential Central Intelligence Agency bulletin has confirmed that the United States is pursuing nuclear physicist Dr. Leonid Pavel. The document, obtained by Wired, indicates that the C.I.A. is investigating the possibility that Pavel, a Russian citizen, may have been abducted by unspecified militants for his prodigious knowledge of nuclear fuel cycle technology.Little is presently known about Dr. Pavel beyond the facts that he attended an Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers symposium three years ago and that he has particular expertise in nuclear reactor design and experimental fuel technology.

According to the heavily redacted memo, an unidentified Georgian national contacted the country's U.S. embassy to arrange political asylum for Dr. Pavel, who'd "disappeared" on a previous date. An apparent transcript of this conversation has also been leaked. Dated December 7 and published this week by Empire, the document contains confirmation that Pavel was seen in the Georgian city of Tbilsi as recently as November 30 and that he is in fear for his safety. The "Militia" party indicates that Dr. Pavel is in their custody and that they agreed to deliver him to the C.I.A. in exchange for U.S. $3 million, which they characterized as the cost of "protecting" the scientist.

An unnamed U.S. Regional Affairs Officer is said to have followed up on the inquiry but was at first unsuccessful in contacting Dr. Pavel. However, we have learned that the C.I.A. has since reestablished communication with the missing scientist or the "Militia" party, and that Pavel will be extracted by U.S. forces from an unknown location at an unknown time in what the C.I.A. is calling "Operation Early Bird." The proof comes in the form of a third document -- also copiously redacted -- that was discovered on a mysterious Twitter feed called "the fire rises."

Inquiries into Operation Early Bird led to the discovery of operationearlybird.com, which as of this writing displays an ominous countdown clock.


The Operation Early Bird countdown has ended and the website now displays an interactive world map with multiple targets highlighted around the United States and the United Kingdom.

More on this as it develops.

[Editor's note: We thought "playing it straight" would be a more entertaining way of covering this alternate reality game. ComicsAlliance is not a partner in the campaign, we're just having our own fun with it.]

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