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"Yes, yes, please sit."

Yerik offered a seat in front of his desk and then shuffled some papers to discover which one he was looking for.

"Our uniformed police officer spoke highly of you and, well frankly, comrade, we could not have gotten our prize last night with your help. If you are still eager to serve the people, I have some moderate work for you.

"It seems some very important information was leaked to the United States and we must ensure that the operation is not compromised. Pyotr is our primary agent on this mission, but he requested your back-up and based on last night's performance you can have it if you want it.

"Before you agree, you should know that your mission will take you to Siberia. But service to the people knows no bounds, right comrade?"

--Laveaux 09:29, 9 December 2005 (CST)


Alexei was struck with conflicting emotions. He just arrived here and still had to settle in and already he was to go away. He thought for a moment about refusing the offer, but then he realized that it may not be the wisest choice.

"May I sit while I think about it, comrade?" - the ex-soldier said and sat down without waiting for a reply. Yaroslav already offered him the seat but Alexei had forgotten about that. He almost missed the seat, but managed to sit and sat there for a full minute or so.

He knew that it was a one time opportunity. He also knew that it would probably be dangerous. It pained him to know that he would leave Yelena alone again. But, on the other hand it was a steady job. And well paid according to rumors. And he needed a job. Considering the skills he had, it would probably be another mine somewhere in the mountains. And that would mean leaving Yelena as well. And if he performed well this one time, maybe he would return to the city and stay there.

Finally he mumbled a bit and raised his eyes to look at comrade Yerik again.

"I accept. It would be foolish to say no. Even if it means going to Siberia. It is a far away place, but I shall return someday if all is well. And it is an honor for anyone to work for the benefit of Motherland. The only thing that remains to be done is to learn the details of this assignment. And to prepare for travel."

Alexei grinned and shook his head slightly.

"And judging by my work so far, enemies of the state better beware or they are in for a world of hurt."


--Kerensky


Smiling broadly, the KGB man said, "Excellent, I am pleased to have you. Please."

He took a bottle of vodka from his desk and poured two shots. Waiting for Alexei to take his, he said, "We have much work to do. You may or may not realize that the General Secretary has been working on creating nuclear weapons so that we may have defense against the west.

"All research and development has been going in a secret Siberian city called Uzbekigrad. We believe that the secrecy of this city was compromised and so we must send trusted comrades to find out.

"You shall leave on the train as soon as possible. How much time do you need to prepare?"

--Laveaux 09:29, 9 December 2005 (CST)


"Well considering that I have not unpacked yet and that I have been in the Army for past 6 years I can leave immediately. But, I would like some time to say good bye to my sister and to get a little rest. Would it be all right if we left in the morning or if time is of the essence this evening?"

Alexei took a sip of the liquor and savoured the taste. He was an army man and the best way to keep yourself warm n watch was to have a strong drink. But, never too much, or it could mean death or worse.

"As for hose nuclear weapons you mention, it is about damned time. We are no worse than Americans and the sooner we develop these super weapons the better. Right now they have an upper edge even if our Armies are superior to theirs, in numbers at least. But, what would be my mission?"

--Kerensky


"You can depart in the morning as you wish. Pyotr will escort you to a private car on the Transiberian. Your mission is rather simple and I believe you are overqualified for the task.

"Simply accompany Pyotr to Uzbekigrad and ensure his safety as he investigates the security protocols and interviews the administration. You will be a bodyguard and secretary to the officer. If security was compromised you will assist Pyotr in apprehending the culprits and returning them to Moscow for further interrogation.

"We do not want to cause alarm with the researchers there, so to the people you are only there to check up on things and report to Moscow. Any information about a security breach is classified.

"It is for that reason we only send two. This mission is very dangerous, you understand. You will be far too deep into Siberia to get assistance if you need it. You must be very careful.

"I hope you understand that not even your sister may know of your whereabouts, even after you return."

--Laveaux 09:29, 9 December 2005 (CST)


"All right then. I talk to no one about the mission and Pyotr and I meet at the station in the morning. If that would be all comrade, I won't take any more of your time. I'll direct all my questions to Pyotr as we travel. It is a long road and there will be plenty of time. Good bye, comrade Yerin. I hope we meet again soon."

Without any hesitation Alexei rose and extended his hand. As soon as Yerin released it, he turned and stopped at the door. Turning he stood there with a creased face.

"Oh, one more thing. How could I get my hands on some sort of handgun. You said there might be danger, and it pays to be ready. And I doubt a rifle would be appropriate. Even though I am better with it."

Alexei waited for a response with a hopeful expression.

--Kerensky


The KGB man smiled as Alexei stood and took his hand firmly.

"Very good, comrade. You serve the people well."

Returning to his seat he began working on notes, presumably for Alexei's assignment. At his request he barely looked up.

"Yes, of course. Pyotr will have firearms and other equipment you will need for the mission."

A though suddenly crossed Yerin's face and he said as Alexei left, "Oh, one more thing. Trust no one. America can be very crafty if they want to."

--Laveaux 09:29, 9 December 2005 (CST)


Alexei left the office and stopped outside. He looked for a bench and settled there. It was just too much. Only now he realiyed what he had done. Both pride and shame filled his thoughts at the same time.

Pride for he had found something worthz to do. He had a job and for the first time he knew that he was doing something for his country other than killing the Germans. But, again he could not speak of it and he had to leave his sister. Again, after he just returned. And he could not tell her where he was going.

With a deep sigh he got up. There was no use delazing the inevitable. With absent mind he descended the stairs down and left his badge at the desk without a word. He waited to see if anything else was needed and then proceded outside.

With reluctance he decided to call a taxi and spped his way back home.

--Kerensky


Pyotr was very happy to see Alexei when he arrived at the station. Taking him into their own private box car of the train, he offered vodka and blini and cheerfully discussed their run-in with the traitor. Apparently, Pyotr learned this man worked for North Industries, an American oil company. They'd learned of Stalin's nuclear program and that was why Pyotr had to go and ensure security was not breeched.

Conversation dwindled after a while and before long he had succumbed to the boredom of watching the tundra fly by. The farther the train went the more cold and bleak the exterior became. Steady rocking and unchanging scenary left them with little choice but to nap or stroll the cabins of the train where other military officers were waiting their inevitible destinations.

Two full days into their journey, Pyotr pointed out the window at a series of huts and fur tents.

"Buryats," he said, "we're getting close."

--Laveaux 09:36, 9 December 2005 (CST)


It pained Alexei to have left home so soon. And in such fashion. He loved his sister very much, but he had no other way of doing this. Instead of trying to explain he said that he found a job and that he needed to go away for a while.

All her questions went unanswered. At first Alexei tried to tell her that he has to keep it secret, but she was a woman. She had to know. Finally he just gave up and packed in silence, ignoring her completely.

When Yelena started crying it almost broke him, but after all those years in was, he was not so easily broken. He gritted his teeth and threatened that he would spend a night in the hotel if she would not shut up. That made her silent, but she sobbed all night.

Finally, just before dawn she fell asleep and Alexei rose. He could not sllep with the excitement and sorrow. Slowly he snuck out of the room and left the apartement without a sound.

It was still early so he wandered the streets until the time to leave arrived. Muscowy (people of Moscow) rose early, but for a time the strrets were blesedly empty. Police was doing a good job, and all the drunks were inside in the warm where there was no danger of freezing to death.

Finally almost half an hour before time came he was at the station waiting for Pyotr. They greeted and entered the train to warm themself. Alexei's fingers were growing numb, but he knew the frostburns were not the cause. But, had he spent more time outside it would have become an issue.

The Russians knew how to keep themselves warm. And the train was true to the task. It was steaming hot inside and after a few shots of vodka, Alexei started removing excesive clothing. First day he spent blesedly drunk in his underwear.

Next day he awoke with a blistering headache and it took him a few seconds to adjust his eyesight and focus. This time he would quit drinking. A rasping laugh left his throat and he yelped in pai of it. Everytime he awoke drunk he said that same thing. And everytime he drank again. He dressed and strolled the train to relax his muscles a bit.

That day was spent in idle conversation with various officers in the other cabins. Small talk mostly. He shared a few drinks, but was carefull not to get carried away. In time it bored him too and he returned to the cabin and watched the tndra speed by.

The tents were a welcome addition and Pyotr's voice awoke him from his dream-like state. He let out a sheepish smile and nodded.

"Good. I could not stand this idle traveling for much longer. NOw, tell me of your plans and what you need me to do? The time has come to flush these traitors out. Yes?"

--Kerenksy


"The best thing you can do, comrade," Pyotr answered, "is keep a close eye on me. It is my job to find the traitors and bring them to justice, it is your job to make sure I don't die in the process."

They had not discussed equipment or weapons yet, but now was the time. The policeman opened on of his larger travel bags to reveal several pistols, single action rifles with sights, fully automatic rifles and ammunition. It was as if he brought an entire arsenal.

"Hopefully we will not need the rifles," he said with absence.

The train slowed to a stop and Pyotr leaned forward to look out at the station. There was a military convoy outside and the only ones at this station wore the uniform of the red army. Armed guards patrolled the area and beyond the station the guarded walls of the encampment could be seen.

"We take one of those trucks. Bundle up."

Pyotr grabbed his things and lead Alexei outside where the harsh air of Siberia pounded them. Nearby guards dutifully checked their identification and orders and then handed over a truck which was loaded efficiently. The policeman said nothing until they were driving and outside the gates of the encampment.

"Very few people are permitted to take this road," he said.

--Laveaux 09:36, 9 December 2005 (CST)


"I'll try to keep you alive, comrade. I am better at keeping myself alive, but I think I can do a good enough job of keeping you safe."

As the weapons were displayed, Alexei grabbed one of the semiautomatic pistols and checked the clip. Once satisfied with it, he put it inside his pocket. There was no need to be alarmed just yet, but it paid to be careful.

Once that was done, he picked p his travel bag and waited for the train to stop. Without a word the ex-soldier followed his police companion and waited patiently for the truck to arrive.

Once the wind struck him, Alexei shuddered slightly and raised his collar. He was used to winter conditions and this, although it troubled him, was not so bad.

As they reached the encampment, he smiled as Pyotr commented on the number of people passing through the gates.

"Well, if you are right, then there will be a few less people going through this gate soon. And, if I can help it won't be us."

--Kerenksy


It was as if the road never ended. Stretching into the wasteland, roaming over hillsides, cutting through evergreen forests, and sprawling along flatlands, the desolation of Siberia certainly lived up to its reputation. Pyotr didn't say very much along the way, perhaps lost in his own thoughts, or more practically, concentrating on the snow-blown and icy roads.

At the summit of a small hill with an interestingly out of place boulder, Pyotr stopped the jeep.

"Odd," he said at last, "the checkpoint guard is not here."

He scanned the hilltop for a moment before resuming.

"Keep your eyes open."

On the other side of the hill was a city built literally in the middle of nowhere. Fully functional city streets stretched before them with the simplistic communist architecture flooding city blocks. Redbrick buildings consumed the landscape beneath them complimented by drab-gray concrete supporting warehouse walls.

Even from their distance it appeared to be a ghost town. Absolutely no movement caught there eyes and although hundreds of parked military vehicles could be seen, none of them were operating.

He stopped the jeep once more and said, "Something is wrong. We should go in on foot."

--Laveaux 09:36, 9 December 2005 (CST)


Alexei was completely relaxed as they drove. He was used to silence in the army and it did not trouble him now. He took a good measure of landscape and tried to remember some of the landmarks just in case he needed to return to the station by foot.

It was never bad to be careful and to plan ahead. And this time he had a reason to be. As Pyotr mentioned the lack of checkpoint guard, Alexei seemed to shrink a bit. It could have been strange, but he merely wished to present a smaller target just in case something was wrong.

His alertness rose and he scanned the horizon trying to look for a way into the city. A way that would expose him the least. His eyes searched for a way, but also for a place of a possible ambush. Something was not right here and for a moment Alexei regretted coming here. But, it was replaced by curiosity a moment later.

As the jeep stopped for a second time, Alexei jumped out even before Pyotr spoke. He waited for the policeman to finish and after taking another good look of the surroundings turned his head slightly that way.

"I thought there should be people here. You are right. Something is very wrong here. Only one question remains. Do we need those rifles now? Or do we go lightly armed? And if you don't mind, I'll lead the way."

--Kerenksy


Surprised at the young soldier's responsiveness, Pyotr struggled to keep up. He jumped out of the jeep as well and then went to one of the few bags in the back.

"We should take the rifles. If it is what I think it is, we will need them."

He hoisted two bags on his shoulders and then handed two to Pyotr. It would be most of the supplies they brought.

Scanning the city, Alexei found it was nestled in a valley between two 600 meter hills. It would be a day's journey to go around the hills, but the valley extended beyond the town into more tundra. The road they were on was the only road access in or out. A forest of evergreen in the surrounding area provided easy entry on foot without being spotted. They were hidden enough behind evergreen at the moment that the only way they could've been spotted was from telegraphic lenses.

Pyotr parked the jeep off the road behind a nearby boulder and then when ready said, "Very well, after you, then."

--Laveaux 09:36, 9 December 2005 (CST)


Alexei did not know what was happening and wished he was not here. He did not like risking his own life, but this time it would be foolish to bak off. He did not care for a reputation, but he had gone too far now.

So he just quietly chekced his rifle and slung it across his back. Two extra clips were strapped to his belt and finally a pair of bags. He checked once more to see if his gun was easily accesible and tuned to Pyotr.

"Follow me at about twenty paces. I don't know what to expect, but if something happens just stop and seek cover. Prepare your rifle and wait. I'll try to get back to you and then we have the element of surprise instead of the enemy. Simple."

With that he was gone without waiting for Pyotr to respond. He moved slowly among the trees his eyes scanning the countryside, but his head did not move. Altough he tried to evade most clearing he tried to look casual.

--Kerenksy


The red soldier buried himself in the evergreens, walking through deep January snow. The moving was slow and although only a foot deep in most places, in some parts the snow reached the middle of his thighs. Fresh, still, and knife-scalding air crackled against his bundled face as he went. Now deep in the forest, he'd lost sight of the town, but years of patrols kept him on track skirting the parameter.

Pyotr remained back and many times lost sight of him altogether. Also skilled in patrols such as these, he knew the drill and kept quiet and hidden.

They went for two hours before Alexei summated a nodular hill, residue of the climbing mountain said to his right. On the other side was a valley with a cavernous pit carved out. The frozen and mutilated bodies of over two hundred Soviet citizens lay inside. Many were soldiers, still dawning their uniforms, but others were scientists and researchers, not even wearing tundra gear, having only meager lab coats on when they were tossed inside. The source of the mutilation was almost entirely from fully automatic machine guns and it was not an execution, but a slaughter. There was no evidence of careful aim, as from a firing squad, but the half-hazard and gory display of machine gun strafing.

It hadn't snowed since the bodies were put there, but the blue skin of the victims grew ice crystals. It was impossible to tell how long they'd been there.

The soft tromping of Pyotr could be heard from behind.

--Laveaux 09:36, 9 December 2005 (CST)


Alexei almost gagged at the sight of all those bodies. Fighting back the rising bile in his throat he just crouched and took a few deep breaths. Finally he regained composure, but remained crouched still. he sight brought back other memories back to mind.

He saw the concentration camps on his way to Germany a few years ago. And this looked something like that. Whoever did this deserved and equal fate. Or even something worse. But, it could wait.

Alexei scanned a surrounding once more before he turned his head and waited for Pyotr to come within his sight. Once his eyes were on the policeman he motioned for him to get closer.

--Kerenksy


The policeman finally arrived, noting with apprehension that Alexei was crouching and still. Careful steps brought him closer and when trained eyes looked below a hushed gasp left his mouth and in the next moment, Pyotr was crouching as well.

"This was far more than a mere security breach. Who would do such a thing?"

He waited for a moment, processing some thoughts, but then continued.

"We are not equipped to handle this threat. However, if we leave, the perpetrator may escape unpunished."

The implication was left out in the cold. They would have to march in, unprepared, ill-equipped into a mortal and unknown danger. To do otherwise would discredit those in the pit. Pyotr new that with their sense of duty, he would live with regret.

--Laveaux 09:36, 9 December 2005 (CST)


Alexei was about to suggest that one of them go back to get some help, but realized that the other one would be doomed. They were both doomed probably, but they had better chance together.

Although he felt almost dizzy with terror, he knew that to leave now would be to doom Pyotr to death. While he could learn to live with that, Alexei did not want to. So, he just nodded and smiled weakly.

"Same procedure as before. I go first, you follow. I'll try to find some tracks that will tell us where those who did this horror left."

As he talked, Alexei's eyes fell upon a woman's face. She lay in the pit and only a piece of her face was visible. But, her eyes showed true horror. Her last thought was of fear.

The soldier felt his fear slowly being replaced with anger. These people had families. And many were not armed. And yet they were killed. Alexei's cheeks grew red as his anger rose and he stood up.

"When we find those that did this, we make them pay. An eye for an eye. Only monsters could have done this. I don't care for the reasons. Once we do what we came here for, I say we kill them all. If we do it. We will probably be dead by the end of the day, but I don't care. At least a few of them will follow me to the icy grave. Let us go now. Keep your distance and make as little noise as possible."

With that Alexei shouldered his rifle once more and moved towards the pit. Now, he did not care for the deception. He moved crouched and from tree to tree. He knew that if he was seen, he would probably die. He was not very good at following tracks, but still he approached the pit trying to find a place where the massacre took place and to determine where the killers went.

--Kerenksy


It was clear that those who committed the slaughtering were not expecting company. No attempt was made at all to cover their tracks. It was easily a platoon of soldiers, perhaps 20, that marched along side a truck to the pit. The tracks went straight to a service road to the east of town, not 2 clicks from their present location.

As he followed the tracks, he happened upon the service road, still under cover behind a close thicket of evergreen. The town was just as ghostly up close as it was from afar. A wild wind whistled through the street leading to the service road as it wound up to a cushioned plateau beneath the mountainside.

His new vantage added an even more abysmal truth. Still old snow presented the bright residue of human blood. Dozens of spots on the street fell victim to this vision. Strategically broken windows above the bloody imprints also stood out. This town was invaded and the occupants killed on the street where they stood. They had no chance to prepare.

The road he peered down had a group of six simple residential homes on either side, before branching off into a park bordering other small neighborhoods. The residential side of the town bled into a more industrial sector, home to several warehouses and production plants. Just beyond there was the center of town and a traditional town square with shops, banks, and cafes. North was obscured by higher buildings, perhaps blue-collar residences. In the south were standard concrete government buildings, likely the home for a great deal of research.

Not a soul could be seen in any direction.

--Laveaux 09:36, 9 December 2005 (CST)


Alexei surveyed his surroundings as he moved along the tracks. Slowly his rage left him and his mind cleared. And, although he felt relaxed and calm now, the images of dead people were still in his mind. He never understood how people could walk to slaughter like that. He would have fought. Trued to escape. But, they just died.

As he came upon the road he paused for a moment to make sure he would not be seen. Waiting to see if Pyotr was still behind he motioned to the policeman that he would follow the road and was on the move once again.

And then he saw the town. A cold feeling sank into his belly as he searched for a living soul. But, none were in sight. He cursed silently once and moved to the edge of the forest and waited for Pyotr there. And as he waited he saw the blood trails. What puzzled him was who could have done that? He knew vaguely what the research carried there was, but still the attacker must have been pretty bold to have done so. And in the middle of Soviet Union. He banished those thoughts for now and turned to see if Pyotr was coming.

Motioning for the policeman to wait he moved towards him and crouched there. He puffed into his gloved hands once, more out of the habit that any real need and smiled weakly.

"The city is here all right. But, there is no one living in sight. Though that means nothing. They might be hiding or a spotter is in one of the houses. It appears that they did at least a part of the killing in the city itself.

There are blood spots on the street in a few places. And some windows are broken. But, that is not important. Do you have any idea who could have done this? Foreigners? Someone from within? It looks like it was very well organized and if did not show up they could have escaped.

They even may be gone already. But, those bodies looked fresh so I doubt it. The plan probably was to kill everyone, get what they came for and escape. If we did not show up it could have been days before anyone discovered that something was wrong.

As I see it there are two options. We go in right away and risk being spotted. Or we wait until dark and go then. But, by then the perpetrators could be gone. So what do you say? I for one am for going in right now."

--Kerenksy


When Pyotr arrived he listened to Alexei's report quietly. Studying the scene before him, he offered a sigh.

"It's a perfect crime," he said at last, "Even when Stalin finds the massacre, he can't report it to the people nor can he approach the Allies. It's a secret city and the act of doing so would reveal his intention to create nuclear weapons. The politburo will have to quietly take it.

"It is clear that whoever did this did not want nuclear weapons developed. This must be an American operation. They are desperate and arrogant bastards.

"I agree comrade, let's go in now and seize them before they get away. Be careful. If these are Americans, they are crafty and dangerous. We don't want any surprises."

He paused, passing by some thoughts.

"They are probably in the research facilities. . . if I am right about their purpose. They would want to destroy any research that was done."

--Laveaux 09:36, 9 December 2005 (CST)


Without a word Alexei just nodded and smiled. He rechecked the rifle he carried and took three more clips out of the bag. Once more he remembered why he still wore his old army jacket as he inserted the extra clips into the pockets in the small of his back.

Once satisfied that he was as equipped as the circumstances permitted the ex-soldier rose and let out a sigh.

"I suggest we stay closer to one another now. The ground is open and we will be seen if there is anyone watching this part of the city. Yet, we may slip un-noticed if we stay together. This way we give an observer only one chance to spot something moving across the open ground and not two. So, whenever you are ready..."

Alexei assumed that the research facility was in the center of industrial part of the city and did not bother asking for the exact location. When and if they managed to get through the city outskirts that question would have some importance.

He waited for Pyotr to get ready and once the policeman was ready started towards the edge of a forest. Meanwhile he scanned the open filed between the forest and the first houses in search of any cover that he could use to catch his breath and hide from sight for a while.

Once he they reached the forest edge he turned and smiled at Pyotr.

"Well, good luck then. For motherland and all that. Stay close and with a lot of luck we won't be seen. Or hope that Americans are too confident and they did not leave a guard to watch over perimeter."

--Kerensky


The skeletal silence of the city embraced them as they passed through. With militant skill, the two danced from one nook to the next, zig-zagging across the snow-covered neighborhood landscape like predators weaving between stalks of concrete grass. After weaving through the town for ten minutes, they at last reached the town square, not three blocks from what appeared to be the research facilities, two large brown-drab buildings at the foot of a waterfall of factories and assembly plants.

They rested in an alleyway between two storage facilities reaching four stories each. A courtyard, easily fifty meters across rested in the center of a crossroads of five streets. The only decoration afforded was a small eight-foot statue of Lenin.

Across the courtyard were more buildings of the same stature from which they hid. Smaller shops and cafes spotted the courtyard to the north and south, but it was clear that a 50-meter uncovered sprint would surely be spotted from any number of sniper locations.

--Laveaux 09:43, 9 December 2005 (CST)


Alexei crouched near the corner and peeked around. Quickly he pulled back and waited a second or two before he dared look again. Satisfied that no one was around the corner he dared a long look across the square.

And he did not like what he saw. Too much empty space and too many places to be shot from. He smiled at the statue and after another brief look pulled himself back.

"The situation is not good. I see the research buildings. And I see the square in front. And there is no way we could cross the square without being seen. Unless we find another route that is. We could wait until night falls, or we could sneak around the complex and try to circle it and enter from another direction. Do you know anything about the city layout or the complex itself? Or were your plans to have a guide? We can try storming the entrance, but I think we will be shot before we reach halfway there. Any other ideas or should I start looking for a way around it?"

He paused for a moment and the smiled.

"And there is no way we are going in through the sewers. This is a research complex and who knows what stuff they have down there. I have seen what water from such places can do to people in Germany and I don't plan on testing it here."

--Kerensky

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