[identity profile] taras-oleksei.livejournal.com
"Okei, what are we going to do to this guy?"

Taras warmed up methodically, stretching like he was about to work out. Muscles bulged under his uniform jacket as he raised his arms to chest level, pulling the biceps taut.

"The pathologist," he clarified, after a moment.

He and Ilarion were walking past unadorned concrete walls toward the outbuilding that housed the KGB pathologist's lab. The morning air was thin, and misted in front of their lips.

Around them, mountains surrounded the base, tall and bleak, like watchtowers.

Taras flexed his hands into fists.

"I mean, this guy has something to with why Andrusha can't take a piss without someone watching him, right? I think we should lean on him pretty hard."

Movement caught his attention. A pair of guards were walking a large black dog past a fence topped with razor wire.

He frowned, averting his gaze.

"Because, khui, I want to hit something," he muttered.
[identity profile] nikanor-liadov.livejournal.com
It was early evening when he found Rakitin reading a novel in the officer's lounge, seated in an avocado-green pleatherette armchair in the corner.

The lieutenant looked engrossed, and didn't even look up as Liadov approached.

Science fiction, he noted, as he put his hand down on the page.

"We have a problem," he said, as Rakitin looked up, blinking.
[identity profile] hajimenoippolit.livejournal.com
Rakitin's path took him to the range by rote before he had consciously set a course. It was a place open to anyone at any time, and thus of interest to few at this hour. Anonymity could be found in the steady report of gunfire.

Rakitin was in a mood to hide in plain sight.

He had left the wounded soldier to sleep, exhausted from the attempt to dig into his recalcitrant memory. For as little as they had ended up having to show for it, he had played along gamely, with remarkable resilience.

It was a stark contrast to other mystery Rakitin was embroiled in. Here, instead of a man hiding his true nature from the world, was a man whose nature hid from himself. It was a kind of honesty by default, to have nothing over which to construct lies.

For as much as it could be said that any man ever knew himself.

Let alone another.

Rakitin faced straight forward as the pattern of bullets subsumed him.
[identity profile] hajimenoippolit.livejournal.com
When it came to some questions, no answer was the clearest you could get.

It had been a misunderstanding on a basic level. Projection, that sorriest of states. Rakitin had been hearing what he wanted to hear.

Facing reality promised to make things much simpler.

It would probably break it, but, well, there you were.

At the same time as it evoked a pang of sympathy, Leshovik's affront was almost funny. Maybe you had to be used to Liadov saying those sorts of things.

"Speaking of," Rakitin said, shrugging back into his role like an old jacket, "That could exonerate Isaev in another way. Odds are low that he'd fit this bill. The blood type of the semen collected from the body is A B negative."
[identity profile] eyes-adrift.livejournal.com
Aryol looked down.

He sat cross-legged, hunched over slightly, arms crossed over his thighs. His stomach hurt. Maybe he'd eaten too quickly, or too much, or maybe the dough had been too rich. He didn't know.

The major had called him sick, he remembered. It had been the night before, after he'd confessed about who Kasya was to him.

Aryol tugged idly at one of his bootlaces.

"How does something like that happen?" he asked.

It was a moment before he looked up.

He hesitated, then met the major's eyes.

"Was he born sick? Or did something bad happen to him? Or did no one ever tell him that it's wrong to kill people, and he just doesn't know it?"

Aryol looked down again. He gave his bootlace a sudden yank, and pulled the knot free.

"I mean, that would be pretty messed up, because normal people know that. Would you be able to tell it was him, if you met him, just by the way he acted? Or would he seem normal at first? Or could you look him in the eye - "

He glanced up.

"...and tell something was wrong?"
[identity profile] hajimenoippolit.livejournal.com
They said a new day was a clean slate.

It might even be true, if you could move all the other ones piled on top to see.

As luck would have it, it was Captain Irinarhov watchfully trailing Rakitin through the courtyard to the lab this morning. Rain was falling, making visibility poor, and he was sticking close. He hadn't said a word.

Not that that was unusual. It was one of the characteristics that, in any other situation, would have tempted Polya to keep a close watch for raindrops to pass through him.

He had to accept that Irinarhov was a solid and living man, whatever might suggest otherwise.

However much easier it might have been, otherwise.

Entering the outbuilding was the sudden cessation of the pressure of rain, and the withdrawal of its noise to the distance of roof and walls. Rakitin remained by the door, shaking droplets from his hat, until it closed and dampened the rest of the sussurrus.

"Captain," Rakitin said, as the newborn silence was drawing breath. "May I have a word with you?"

Mess, cont

Jan. 2nd, 2008 08:00 pm
[identity profile] hajimenoippolit.livejournal.com
Rakitin stared at Liadov, his stomach clenched into a ball of ice.

Slowly, as he studied Nika's expression, he realized something.

Someone was striking derision and a wall of cold rejection, someone was where they weren't wanted, and it wasn't Polya.

How strange.

In the wash of relief and something else (acceptance? No, that was absurd), he felt an undercurrent of sympathy for the supply captain.

For the first time, it occured to him that he could play along.

Polya looked met Utrov's eyes and smiled a little, shyly.

The secret was shared, after all.

"You know, I think he does."

Mess

Dec. 17th, 2007 08:27 pm
[identity profile] hajimenoippolit.livejournal.com
Life went on.

Heat and noise, startling after the cold open space of the courtyard, enveloped Liadov and Rakitin as they walked into the mess hall. It was a little early yet, and the building was half full of soldiers boasting, arguing, laughing. It was easy to slip under the surface, though Ippolit was peripherally aware that he still merited a few odd looks. He was used to that.

It was an opportunity to recover from the inquest, and Rakitin was grateful. Isaev's calm stare had been as disorienting as Irinarhov's forgiveness. The interview had been bad enough, but it hadn't disturbed him to this extent. Rakitin hadn't been been given that quality of fear by a man's mere presence since...

...since a long time ago.

The chill was leaching from his mind, now, with the awareness that the case had taken a temporary reprieve. Nika seemed relieved as well.

The corpse would be as dead in the morning.

Rakitin felt some of the tension ease from his shoulders. The day was done. It was unlikely the rest of the evening would provide any especial trials.

By the time they took their places at the accustomed table, Polya had regained the equilibrium to find it all darkly funny. Some days it was as though someone had written half a tragedy and half a farce and thrown the pages in the air.

"So," he said to Nika conversationally, "I hear Molokov's replacement came in today."
[identity profile] andrei-isaev.livejournal.com
Andrei sat back in his chair, and regarded Lieutenant Rakitin.

Rakitin's oddly dark eyes were plaintive and accusatory- not in a hostile way, but more a quiet disbelief, informed by an awareness he probably didn't even apprehend at this point.

Isaev admired that on some level, but on another level, it irked him. He hadn't killed anyone, not this time, and this frosty little prick looked at him like he was a man-eating tiger that citizens had allowed to roam free, blithely strolling the sidewalks.

"I think we are all aware," he began, slowly, "of the kind of ethics Captain Irinarhov espouses. Most, myself included, would even count them excessive."

He let his chin tilt up, snorting slightly.

"This is a man who insists upon verbally correcting his own documented kill-count, any time the matter comes up, because he maintains that the accurate tally is actual one less than the official."

Isaev laughed, shaking his head.

"This is a man who has suffered for his morality and integrity, as I'm sure Major Liadov could attest. Out of deference and respect for that unique conscience, I omitted him from our plans concerning Borishnakov, and have no qualms about having done so. I did this, because he is a true friend, in the most classical sense- like Orestes was to Pylades."

He paused.

"He is also my superior."

Isaev's grey eyes passed over Liadov briefly, noting the studied and downcast impassivity of his face, before fixing on Rakitin once more.

"And he is telling the truth. Moreover, I do not believe that he would lie. So by conjecture, I must agree. We played cards, we drank a little, we traded stories and we bunked for the night. As is our friendly custom."

Andrei leaned forward, letting his voice go quiet, directing it at Rakitin particularly.

"You know, comrade Lieutenant, there are other reasons a man may be loath to give an alibi, despite its veracity. One of them might be trepidation of being misunderstood- that admitting to a harmless social liaison with a comrade might result in unwarranted accusations of criminal affection. One might reasonably want to shield a beloved comrade from such...tarring. Especially in the face of an MVD inquest."

Inquest

Dec. 11th, 2007 10:10 pm
[identity profile] nikanor-liadov.livejournal.com
Liadov stood at the head of a long table, in a room crowded with crimson and black, low with murmurs and rustles of wool, the clink of kalashes and AKs against buckles and buttons.

The Ocelots, en masse, assembled. And Ocelot himself, arms crossed and leaning negligently against the wall of the conference room to one side.

He didn't looked worried, but he did look guarded.

Rakitin was sitting, slightly beneath and to his right- the only one sitting, actually, with a stack of notes and a couple of illustratory vials at hand.

Liadov cleared his throat and surged right in, without preamble.

"Lieutenant Vladislaus Yamirich Borishnakov was found this morning at approximately 11 AM, or thereabouts. He was deceased."

Liadov paused. Silence answered him, uneasy.

"...There were some very interesting details present. It has come to our attention that Ocelot squad activity was responsible for some aspects of the state Lt. Borishnakov was discovered in- namely, a hazing ritual in which an Ocelot officer is 'de-initiated' upon turning in a repeatedly unsatisfactory performance."

Nika turned his head and looked squarely at Ocelot.

"Major, is that true?"

Ocelot narrowed his eyes.

"It's true," he answered, flatly, without apology.

Liadov nodded.

"What we would like to know is what was done, how the ritual proceeded, and how far it went before you called it a night, men."

His eye roamed the crowd, and fixed on the brooding face of Kolyin first. Kolyin was looking straight ahead. He stood by a taller blonder man with unusually wide-set eyes, who averted them.

Nika hadn't spotted Irinarhov yet, nor Isaev, though he hadn't looked yet, and he had a feeling they would be standing to the back of the room, as was Kasya's preference.

No matter.

He had all the time in the world.

"Would you care to elaborate on how things progressed last night, Lieutenant Kolyin?" Liadov asked, crossing his arms.
[identity profile] hajimenoippolit.livejournal.com
"Strange," Rakitin murmured.

The body was spread out on the autopsy table beside him. Another young, blond man, this one whole, but festooned with bright blood patterns on nearly unmarked skin. Leopardus pardalis, as he had thought, and a hastily purloined book on zoology had confirmed.

"This blood," he said. "It comes from several sources. What prints I can get are various, too."

He look a long look at the sample he had been testing, then glanced at Liadov.

"There was a team involved in this."

His eyes swept over the results.

"There's light bruising along the arms and torso. Not enough to have been a major fight. And..."

He went over to the corpse, lying as if waiting for news worth awakening to hear.

"Look."

Rakitin lifted the wrist to show the faint lines across it.

"Ligature marks."
[identity profile] hajimenoippolit.livejournal.com
"Another without marks," Rakitin murmured. "I'll bet you anything there's enough sedative in his blood to bring down a timberwolf."

He drew back to the active center of the room like a reluctant iron filing to an inconsistent magnet. Whatever it was that Liadov and Irinarhov needed to discuss, it looked like it would wait.

Ever since the other night...both other nights...Rakitin had done his best to keep out of the way. Nika hadn't talked much to him since, any more than necessary, and he'd followed the cue and backed off.

In fact, it was the young Black Ops man, Aryol, who had approached him, with an open smile and disarming gregariousness.

At the first second Polya had frozen, the alarm of reflex in his head blaring, Nika told him. He told him, and they laughed. But logic had manned the override. He knew perfectly well that that was ridiculous, and all the reasons.

"Either our killer is well trusted, or he's got a skill for sleight of hand."

Nothing they didn't know already, but it helped to follow the old tracks, to look for the divergences that stood out.

Such as....

"This is the first time it's directly involved Major Ocelot and Major Raikov," he hazarded. "Does that mean something?"
[identity profile] capt-kasya.livejournal.com
Kassian stood in the corridor of guest hall of the Main Wing, just outside Liadov's quarters.

Hesitating.

He'd looked for Liadov in the lab outbuilding, but it had been curiously empty. No sign of him in the mess hall, either. Kassian had decided that Liadov's quarters were the last place he'd look before he gave up and just tried CODEC, though he doubted Liadov would be here. It was almost 1200 hours, and even though Liadov had had a lot to drink the night before, he couldn't still be sleeping, Kassian thought. Still, he wasn't sure.

Part of him almost hoped that Liadov wouldn't be inside, but then again, this was important.

Outwardly, Kassian looked as calm and composed as always, he knew, but inwardly, he felt off-balance, shifted from his center like a broken scope. If he lifted his rifle, his hands would be steady, but the late-morning remnants of a hangover pulled at his brow. Earlier in the morning, his headache had almost faded, but now it was back, pounding sullenly behind his eyes.

Better that than jangled nerves, though.

Kassian frowned, and knocked on the door, a little more forcefully than he intended.

He thought he heard a noise from within, but there was no immediate answer.

Kassian knocked again.

"Liadov? You in there? I need to talk to you."
[identity profile] charushkin.livejournal.com
Matvei squared himself up for his third shot at Liadov and his evasive techniques.

He couldn’t press too hard – for his own sake – but the half-truth was driving him insane. He had to know.

He’d tried asking, he’d tried cookery… the only weapon he had left was persistence.

He didn’t bother knocking on the lab door this time. It was early evening, and maybe they wouldn’t be right in the thick of… anything major.

No one else was exceptionally dead right now. Although he had heard from his rankmates quick enough about the man with a lucky escape.

… And he was curious about that too. He shuddered to think it could’ve been any one of his friends. Why did all his friends have to be blond, too?

He stepped inside, yanking off his balaclava. “Major Liadov?”
[identity profile] hajimenoippolit.livejournal.com
The night was clear and cold as hindsight. By the time Rakitin flicked on the lights of the empty lab, the glaring fact of his own idiocy had settled in and made itself comfortable.

Only Ippolit could walk in on a man who had been found poisoned and assaulted and manage within minutes to make it worse.

He shuddered in sympathy.

Grey eyes, clouded with urgency, then sharp with horror.

Better that he be here, where he could do some good, and no harm.

Ippolit took the vial of blood and began to distill its secrets.
[identity profile] nikanor-liadov.livejournal.com
Nika left mess intending to return to his quarters.

It was nice out, for winter, however, and he lingered on his walk, crossing through the tank yard, occasionally gazing up at the night sky.

A blanket of stars, a dark bright blue, illumed from behind by unseen, uncast light.

He assumed Rakitin was right behind him, but he had yet to see Polya disembark the mess hall, or hear his companionable shout.

Perhaps Polya had business to attend to, like the nights he'd been privy to what Liadov had not.

Rakitin was ostensibly GRU now, and no longer objective and uncompromised, as far as Nika was concerned.

If in fact he ever had been. It seemed Rakitin's wandering eye for unguarded cock caused him to lapse in common sense. He'd said himself he could take or leave the KGB, in no uncertain terms that left Liadov fairly stunned at their utterance. Once, men were sent to the Gulagi for years for telling a single joke about the government- and here was Ippolit, boldly declaring dissatisfaction with his agency.

And then, this blase admission that he intended to jump ship for Volgin's outfit- well, Rakitin was either supremely brave and confident, or hopelessly naïve to think his kit and bags weren't bugged. Or his teeth, for that matter. Maybe he was more of a renegade than Nika had surmised.

It didn't change his feelings for the man, but it did mean he had one less uncontaminated soul to rely on in this corrupt outpost, if it came down to an issue of justice that conflicted with GRU wishes or politics.

He sighed.

Best not to think about that. Not until it came to it- if it did.

The stars were never-shifting, everlasting.

Nika smiled at them and shook his head.

"Men are fucking imbeciles," he whispered to them, confidentially. "And I foremost among them."
[identity profile] krasnogorje.livejournal.com
 

The Kalashnikov was feather light and unfamiliar. It felt alien in the dusky shadows before nightfall.

His heart beat unmercifully in his chest like a caged animal dangerous and desperate to escape. Deimos was acutely aware of his pulse, a dull roar of blood that surged through his brain, made everything in his sight tinged with red.

With every breath he drew, he quivered, staring down at the lifeless body that sprawled before him. One of the reinforcements sent up the mountain to help secure the pass. A friendly kid with bright eyes that seemed enamored with the entire world. Too young and in love with everything to mistrust the dark stranger with the flame thrower who suggested they should go behind the storage shed and do for each other what good comrades did in private.

“You’ll be fine, Pasha.” Dmitry mumbled, mostly for his own benefit as his numb fingers struggled pull the zipper of his pilfered camouflage jumpsuit. “A bad headache tomorrow. I could do worse to you…” He held his breath as his eyes wandered over the near-naked body at his feet. “I could think of so many things to do to you…you and I…”

A bright trickle of blood snaked its way across the boy’s forehead, tinting shorn ashen hair rosy. It glimmered in the beam of the flashlight.

Deimos dropped to one knee beside Pasha. Holding his breath, he leaned in close enough to hear the soldier’s breathing, deep and slow, as though he were in a pleasant dream.

“Iosef patrols this sector.” His words were scarcely above a ghostly whisper. “He’ll find you in ten minutes, take good care of you.”

Pasha made a small, broken noise.

With a gentle hand, Deimos cupped the boy’s chin with careful adoration, and licked the blood from his temple.

Salt and copper. Dmitry smiled, satisfied with the bitter taste on his tongue.

“I do thank you for the use of your uniform, and for making everything so easy for me.”

The flame soldier stood, reeling as his head swum with adrenaline. It had been too long, far too long. It was intoxicating, made him delirious, made his prick surge with blood.

Laughing carefree, he pulled the black balaclava down over his face. The perfect image of an innocent GRU soldier, he started down the mountain path with one final look to the rock crevice where he stashed his gear.

“Nikanor Liadov…” He breathed, tasting the name.  It was sweet as honey on his lips, with Pasha's blood fresh in his mouth. “Where are you hiding tonight, Nika, my love?”

[identity profile] parabellum-p08.livejournal.com
The storm that blew in off the mountain in the black of night left a thick blanket of snow in the yard. On the buildings, it clung to eaves and window ledges, softened the edges of the Grad and made the East Wing look like a Lebkuchen Haus.

From the window of his office, Johann watched the soldiers in ribbon candy uniforms and licorice jackboots diligently work to uncover the spice drop trucks from the powdered sugar snow. He smiled grimly, sipped the last of his cognac, and turned from the window.

Those licorice boots, he thought ruefully to himself, were best for licking.

When news of an attempt on Volgin’s life reached him, the very first thing he did was descend the stairs into the dank catacombs under Groznyj, disable the alarms, and touch the door of the vault, just to be sure it was still there. Lacking the codes and combinations and keys, it was the best he could do, sliding his mangled hand across the dial of the combination lock as gentle as a lover’s touch. The micro film slumbered peacefully in the darkness, secured by three feet of solid steel from every side, and the best security system in all of Russia.

Then, he breathed a sigh of relief.

The journey. He went out in the snow storm just to be sure. Poison. He got the distinct impression that he was not supposed to know, but it was his job to know things.

His expression softened as his eyes lingered over the cat that slept on the corner of his desk, the only thing that remained for him that was truly his own. Lethargically, he trailed his fingers through her silken fur, and she rumbled at being disturbed.

“Motte,” he mumbled, “du hast werden fett.”

It would have been a good day, he told himself. Could have. It had potential. The storm had purged the moisture from the air, and his bad hip was feeling alright. Slowly, the pain in his heart receded as well, gradually. The memory of Molokov was sweet and golden and distant. It shimmered like dewdrops caught in a spider web in the wee hours of dawn.

Something else nagged at his psyche though, and ruined his day vicariously. He checked every pocket of very pair of jodhpurs. He checked his bedside table, and found nothing in the carved mahogany drawer. The pockets of his coats turned up nothing, neither wool greatcoat nor white wolfskin.

The keys to his 9-11 Porsche, his pride and joy, imported straight from the heart of the Vatterland had vanished into thin air.

Motte had not batted them under the liquor cabinet. They weren’t in his desk drawer, or the filing cabinet, or on the reading desk in his private quarters, or even in the refrigerator.

They were simply gone, as though stolen right out from under his nose and the red rocket sat in the steel shipping container, cold and still.

As he stepped into the hallway and closed the office door behind him, he tried to recall everywhere he had been on the last day he had them. First, the mess hall, but the cooks said they had found nothing. Then, it was the office of Lydia Solovyeva in the administrative building, to clear up some questions regarding personnel files. Back to his office to phone in the month’s supply request list from the Cobra Unit.

That, he remembered clearly. Someone had thought it would be funny to scribble, ‘a horse’ at the very bottom of the paper.

The hornet keeper had turned up not soon after that, with the news of a potential witness, and Krauss immediately went to fetch the investigators. Perhaps he dropped his keys in their laboratory, or worse yet, in the hangar that housed giant hornets.

Worse still, maybe they were in the Fury’s laboratory. He found the cosmonaut aloof and friendly that day, contrary to what the Pain had suggested.

Following a rather pleasant conversation with the pyromaniac, he went to a private dinner with a certain Lieutenant Anton Deviatov and after the slivovic everything got all fuzzy. He distinctly remembered that someone had been in a leather skirt and stockings, but couldn’t quite grasp whether it had been him or Antosha. Either way, the sex was good.

No matter though, he told himself as he rounded the corner and pushed open the outside door. He would simply retrace every step he took that day, until he found his missing keys.

[identity profile] hajimenoippolit.livejournal.com
The narrow strip of skin visible through The Pain's mask was uneven, covered in welts long since solidified, like lava flows turned to basalt. Earlier curiosity had prompted Rakitin to take a closer look, but better sense had assured him staring would have been unforgiveably rude. However, now that consideration had been rendered moot. He noted with interest the thin zone of clarity encircling the Cobra's eyes, keeping visibility unobstructed. The damage must have been inflicted by his own companions. The Pain's place at the center of the hive had not come easily.

"I see," Rakitin said grimly.

He thought of the Ocelot boy who had taken Gurlukovich's death so badly. Had he been his lover? Either way, it was obvious he would lash out at anyone who became a convenient target, an outward direction for his pain. No doubt he wasn't alone.

Rakitin let the warning about The Fury pass him by. Warnings about the cosmonaut's madness were thick as flies on the ground. It was none of Rakitin's concern.

They called me mad, I called them mad, and damn them, they outvoted me.

He took the file, and frowned down at it. Dubious legibility was not enhanced by the dim light.

"Would you prefer, er, privacy?" Rakitin said, with a surreptitious glance at Krauss.
[identity profile] charushkin.livejournal.com
It had taken several days for Matvei to have grown used to having Sergei's bunk empty when he awoke in the morning.

His other bunkmates tried to cheer him up, but could see he was better off left alone. They understood that. Matvei was grateful, and more so that they, or one of his other friends, had left Sergei's stuff undisturbed for a few days. It would've been nothing short of traumatising to see all evidence of his existence disappear overnight, as official protocol would've demanded. But they were Ocelots. They were treated exceptionally well.

He had woken up that morning feeling, for the first time in days, a sense of focus and determination, capable and ready. He mulled over breakfast absently, but ate a reasonable amount. He needed to do something. It lay uncomfortably on his conscience.

He knew where the MVD had their current laboratory. He'd overheard Kolyin moaning to Semeyonev about it at some point.

He left early, a good fifteen minutes before he had to be anywhere, and quickly located the building. Fully uniformed and ready to rejoin his group, and they'd be none the wiser.

He hesitated when he arrived. Probably wouldn't do any good to cause any more alerts, given how... on edge everyone was the last couple of days. He opted to knock, carefully. He was fairly sure in his timing; they were probably holed up in there, busy, but he could just leave very quickly if he wasn't told to fuck off.

At least he'd have tried.

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The Groznyj Grad Living Novel

December 2010

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