[identity profile] heartofthunder.livejournal.com
Volgin opened his eyes.

His vision came only in smears of colors, differentiated by darks and lights.

His throat ached, and his mouth felt dry.

He remembered vague things...Alexei, Ocelot, various young women coming in to talk to him about topics he couldn't remember. It all seemed distant now, and he felt so tired. So weak. It angered him at the same time it exhausted him. He wondered vaguely if he could summon his power and charge his body with so much voltage he could purge the poison from him. Too bad he thought of it now, when it was far too late to do so. He couldn't summon the strength to control his power, much the less charge it up. Perhaps he should have tried at the outset, but...

Volgin heard a voice, then, one of the women. Not speaking to him, too far away for that. In the hallway, perhaps. But then there was a short pause, and a shadow made him blink.

He tried to focus, and even though the face above him was a blur, he'd know the accompanying presence anywhere.

"Alyosha," Volgin murmured, raw and soft. "You're back."
[identity profile] hajimenoippolit.livejournal.com
Tests. More tests.

The blood did exactly as it was told and gave up few answers.

Rakitin had conjectured that the poison would prove to be something similar to arsenic, and was almost immediately proved wrong. It was arsenic, and at an astonishing concentration. If Lynx had been one moment later...

It didn't bear thinking about. A world without the Colonel in it would be a small, drab place.

That was not the problem.

There was another agent present in the mixture, something lurking and insidious hiding beneath the first layer of deadly intent. Hideous.

Finding it was the first step. Now all Rakitin needed was a name.

That was proving to be the tricky part.

The poisoner could have been measuring out components even as the Colonel was inviting Ippolit to stay.

Rakitin would find it. It was a matter of time.
[identity profile] heartofthunder.livejournal.com
Volgin popped the last chocolate in his mouth and closed the box.

He felt better.

It had been a long, stressful day. Every time he'd walked unthinkingly past a window, realizing only as he'd passed that he shouldn't have done that, Volgin had nearly flinched, and Colonel Yevgeny Borisovitch Volgin did not flinch.

Ocelot had been scowling, even more than usual, as he saw to various security precautions: extra patrols, guards posted on rooftops, a stuffed effigy wearing one of Volgin's uniforms left to sit behind his desk. Ocelot was looking even for another decoy, but there were few men who even approached Volgin's size.

That made Volgin think of Alexei, who actually did approach his size. Alexei, who'd appeared out of the ether and back from the dead to warn him, who cautioned him to move from his regular quarters in the Main Wing to his secondary quarters bunkered below, and just in time, too.

Like he'd known there would be an attempt on Volgin's life. He must have.

Volgin wanted to talk to Alexei now. He wanted answers, but more than that, he wanted to feel Alexei's ruthless mouth and unyielding arms, to have Alexei take him, possess him the way only Alexei ever had.

He sighed.

But there was no Alexei. Not last night, not all day.

His monthly shipment of imported Belgian chocolates had arrived earlier in the day, and it had been like a godsend. Exactly what he needed. He'd even put off eating them until he was alone in his quarters, and could really enjoy them.

He'd eaten every delectable piece in the span of mere minutes.

Carefully, Volgin hid the empty box in the trash, making sure to get every wrapper. It wouldn't do for Ivan to find out. Ivan disapproved of the chocolates, especially when Volgin ate too much in one sitting. "You'll ruin your teeth, Zhenya, or you'll get fat," he would chide, and then take them away, just like Volgin's mother had done, all those years ago.

Volgin loved Ivan, but he also loved chocolates.

Ivan didn't have to know about this.

Volgin got up, restless. Too early to go to bed, too late to be stalking around the base, especially with a sniper on the loose.

Maybe he should go find Ivan. Maybe he should find Ocelot, so they could have that talk. Maybe he should find someone hapless to terrorize, one of Ivan's men, perhaps, someone dispensable, whose smoking corpse wouldn't be particularly missed the next day. There had to be some sort of discipline problem that could use his assistance.

Hmm. Yes. That sounded like a good idea, actually.

Volgin turned to the door, then frowned. His stomach hurt. Maybe he shouldn't have eaten all those chocolates at once, after all.
[identity profile] heartofthunder.livejournal.com
Volgin shot the nearby Ocelot soldiers a glare, just because he could. Hurriedly, they averted their gazes and edged away from Volgin, surreptitiously.

That made him feel a little better.

"Come with me, Lieutenant," he said, gesturing for Rakitin to follow. "We need to talk."

Volgin walked with naturally long, sweeping strides, and though the pathologist was not short, Volgin slowed his pace deliberately, so they could have a conversation.

The Main Wing was quiet at night, which was why Volgin preferred to to the East Wing's living quarters, which always housed someone. Here, Volgin had the building nearly to himself save for the guards assigned to patrol the environs, at least in the evenings, and he rarely took to his quarters during the day, so it worked out perfectly.

He glanced sidelong at Rakitin as they walked. "I don't know what you heard or saw, but you need to keep it to yourself. I don't want rumors circulating around the base about...anything unusual that happened here tonight."

Volgin paused. "Can I count on you for that, Lieutenant?"
[identity profile] ocelottery.livejournal.com
Senior Lieutenant Arkady Sergeyevich Kolyin was having a bad day. Most of the problem stemmed from the fact that his “day” had extended beyond a mere twenty-four hours, and had become two.

He’d had night duty with his usual partner and rankmate, Semeyonev, last night, when Sergei had died, but the next morning, he’d had an additional shift playing at babysitter for the MENTs, partnered with none other than the squad’s sullen sniper, Irinarhov.

When he’d finished the guard detail, he’d barely had time for a meal and shower before it was back on night duty with Semeyonev, who, as usual, had a quick grin and smile. Kolyin didn’t know how Savva could do it given everything that had happened, but at least he was better to patrol with than Irinarhov.

“And I swear, they’re fucking,” Savva was saying, filling him in on the latest gossip.

Arkady sighed. “I don’t care. Good for them.”

“You’re a beam of sunshine tonight.”

“You try spending all day with Irinarhov. I swear, that guy never says anything. No personality.”

Savva shrugged. “Snipers are like that,” he said, as if he had some special knowledge. “He’s just quiet. Anyway, Isaev seems to like him well enough.”

Kolyin rolled his eyes. “Yeah, I’ve noticed.”

Actually, the relationship between Andrei and the sniper had been fodder for unit gossip lately. No one fucked regularly without everyone else knowing, and the fact that Andrei was rarely in his bunk in the mornings when Kolyin and Semeyonev got off duty hadn’t gone unnoticed.

Semeyonev laughed. “He’s not a bad looking guy. I’d do him.”

“Well, that’s not saying mu – ”

A shout broke the evening’s relative silence, followed by a call for help. Kolyin’s chest started pounding, and his gut twisted in the silent fear that it was another Serhyoza, that another Ocelot had died.

He and Semeyonev met gazes briefly, then ran forward to the sound of the disturbance.

One of the regular GRU stumbled out of the main wing, pointing a shaking hand behind him. “He’s dead!” the soldier barely managed to get out before he bent over and vomited.

“Who’s dead?” Kolyin shouted, but Savva was already running toward the building.

Arkady gripped his AK-47 tightly as he rushed after his rankmate.

There was already a stir inside – more GRU, running around uselessly, bumping into things like headless rabbits.

One had the presence of mind to run up to them and signal them forward frantically. Kolyin and Semeyonev followed the soldier down the hall, to a half-opened door.

“In there,” the soldier said, stopping in his tracks, showing no sign of accompanying them the last few steps forward.

Savva looked at Arkady again, and reached out to touch his shoulder briefly. Kolyin understood what it meant. Whatever it was – whoever it was – they’d face the horrible truth together.

Side by side, they walked down to the open door and peered in.

The room beyond was simple but spacious, and featured little more than a table and desk and wardrobe, and a giant, oversized bed. And there, near the bed, was the body of a tall and muscular man with a near-Herculean build, clad in a forest green greatcoat.

…and rubberized boots, Kolyin realized, after a moment, but his mind balked even then.

Together, he and Semeyonev edged forward, and saw that the body had only a gaping, bloody ruin where the top of his head should have been, and the floor around the body was decorated liberally with pink brain tissue.

It looked like bubblegum, Kolyin thought, vaguely.

“God,” Savva said, “It’s Volgin.”

“Oh God,” Kolyin said. “We have to tell someone. Major Raikov.”

Semeyonev shot him a look. No, not Major Raikov, he though in faint horror. Never mind his patented ball-crushing maneuver; someone would get castrated.

“Ocelot. We have to tell Ocelot. You call him, Savva. He likes you.”

Everyone knew that Savva got called for Special Duty more often than anyone else.

“You call him! No sense in having him pissed at the both of us. This way, if he gets pissed at you, I can calm him down.”

Semeyonev had a point, Kolyin thought, though he felt reluctant to concede it.

Suddenly, Savva grabbed his arm. “Fuck, bratan, do you see that? There’s a hole in the window. A sniper did this. We need to get back.”

They retreated into the hallway, and Kolyin let out a pained sigh. “All right, I’ll call him, but you’d better have my back on this.”

Raising a hand to his ear, Kolyin slotted Major Ocelot’s frequency and prayed for the best.
[identity profile] heartofthunder.livejournal.com
[Continued from "Meanwhile, Back at Groznyj Grad"]

Volgin had begun to pace, but paused at Krauss' words.

The German was right. Roll call would be necessary, and at this hour, a hassle. He didn't particularly want to be the one that had to deal with it.

"Yes, yes." He waved a dismissive hand. "See to it," he told Krauss, then paused, and looked to Ivan.

"Afterward, do what you can," he said in an undertone to Ivan, his gaze flicking to Ocelot purposefully, but only for a moment.

The young major would be understandably upset at the death of his man, but flush with the bravado of youth, would probably deny it. Volgin knew that, about young men. He had been young himself once, fearless and invulnerable.

Ocelot was not a sentimental fool, but he hadn't had his command long. Oh, he was good - one of the best Volgin had ever seen, which was why he'd been chosen - but still, he hadn't experienced everything there was to know about command yet.

In times like these, a man needed a peer and rankmate. Not his subordinates, to whom he couldn't show weakness, and certainly not a superior.

Ivan would be able to do more for Ocelot than Volgin could. He would get a few drinks into Adamska, and talk to him. He could make sure Ocelot stayed grounded and focused.

"Report to me when you're done," he said, letting his gaze fall to all three men in turn. "I'm going to check on the weapons lab myself."

In addition to the Shagohod, there were some technicians and scientists that were essential. He would issue the curfew order himself, and made sure they understood it.

They were too close to success now to be thwarted by anything.

Or anyone, Volgin thought as he strode away.
[identity profile] raidenovitch.livejournal.com
Raikov's boots struck the floor hard and fast, as he paced furiously around the central building.

He was not pleased. Not pleased at all.

Being thrown off of Ocelot was not the greatest moment, but he could grudgingly admit that Ocelot was needed elsewhere.

So, of course, as soon as they had all left, it had been just him and the Colonel, and a shared wicked grin.

And they'd just settled into the mood when Raikov had been turfed out, again.

He was too annoyed at the whole situation to say much to the Colonel, although he was not personally angry with him. Jesus motherfucking bastard christ, he couldn't concentrate on a thing.

And the worse part was he couldn't go back to his quarters to deal with it himself, not when he was supposed to be keeping tabs on absolutely everyone on-base.

Anyone who came near him right now would live to regret it.
[identity profile] major-ocelot-2u.livejournal.com
Ocelot paced and champed at the bit in the hall of the East Wing, twirling his guns and scowling at nothing.

The hall should be filling up soon.

The ALL PERSONNEL had gone out over the loudspeakers, and every unit was expected to report. He had also personally contacted his counterpart Major, his first Lieutenant, and after hesitating, sent a CODEC to Gurlukovich.

"Imanov seems to be indisposed. If he shows up with the AP bulletin, I'll have him follow me in second point. If he doesn't, Sergei, I need you."

It would be good in two ways, thought Ocelot. First, he could observe Sergei's command ability without the stomachache of putting him out front in direct conflict, and two, Sergei could be relied on.

Always.

"If Imanov shows up, I'll have him lead a second party. Either way, Serhyoza," he added, "I'll need you by my side."

As he waited for Raikov and his men to appear, he counted the diamond in the tiles with a furrowed brow.

Inwardly, he scoffed at his own impatience.

What's the hurry? Dead things tend to stay dead. Not like he's going anywhere.

How had they missed it?

Had he been selecting his victims only from non-essential personnel?

Ocelot made a short, audible noise of frustration.

If the killer had gotten ahead of them this much, he could already be selecting his next victim.
[identity profile] heartofthunder.livejournal.com
[PJATNICA, 14 FEVRAI, 1964 1100 hours]

Yevgeny Volgin strode out of the investigators' office, his mind turning like the gears of war, slow and grinding, but inexorable.

The Internal Services major had given him a lot to think about.

He was actually more concerned about the murder now than when it had occurred. Liadov's grim words had sent wet, icy fingers into his core, a sensation of numbness that threatened to spread.

It felt something like electrocution, though only without the pain.

The thought of Ivan as the object of some psychopath's fixation...

In the distance, outside the building, he thought he heard thunder rumble.

Another storm, perhaps.

Volgin had learned early on that delegation was a good thing. Surround yourself with the best people, tell them what to do, but leave them to their own discretion as to how they do it. It had worked for him throughout his entire career, and he was highly pleased that now, at the apex, he had the very best people he'd ever had - well, with a few exceptions.

He had a lot of people to talk to this morning. Ocelot. Ivan. The Boss. Krauss, and the Fury. He thought he was missing someone...or something...but he didn't let it bother him.

It would come to him.

It always did.

He had faith in himself.

He hadn't come this far to let something like this stop him.

Soldiers and secretaries scattered in his wake as he returned to the East Wing, equally alarmed by the intensity of his bearing, though probably for different reasons.

"Where's Major Ocelot!" he snarled, and one of Ivan's men blanched.

"Sir! We'll find him for you!"

The solider made to hurry off, but Volgin just shook his head.

"No. That will take too long. But if you see him, tell him I'm looking for him," he said, then cut a swath out of the office area, rumbling like a single tank on a mission to conquer all of Europe.

Faint sparks of electricity trailed in his his wake.

[OOC: Volgin wants to talk to several people in succession, including but not limited to Major Ocelot, Major Raikov, Voyevoda, Major Krauss, and the Fury. I will update this tag to reflect who he's currently looking for/talking to, so you'll know when your turn has come!]

[Currently: off to The Groznyj Grad Tour thread.]
[identity profile] nikanor-liadov.livejournal.com
Liadov raised his brows slightly.

"That is good to know...Captain Irinarhov."

He allowed a slight inflection on the corrected rank. Since he had only heard the man referred to by title prior to the demotion order they'd assigned, the name Irinarhov and Major had become somewhat linked in his mind.

A smile tipped his lips, dipped them in wryness like frost.

"This reunion is kismet, you know. Proof irrefutable that a man's questionable decisions do follow him through life."
[identity profile] parabellum-p08.livejournal.com

“Welcome to Groznyj Grad.” Krauss chuckled, stealing a sideways glance at the investigators. He decided it would be best to play it all off as a routine, normal occurrence, both for his own personal amusement, and because such strange sights were common around the Grad. Better to let them in on the secret now, lest for the poor bastards get a nasty surprise later on.

“Are you gentlemen alright?” He raised an eyebrow, gesturing toward the yard full of naked and semi naked soldiers. “You act as though you have never witnessed morning roll call!”

It was easy to pick out Volgin, a mountain swathed in olive wool among the fleshy-pink unclothed crowd. The sooner he was able to pawn the investigators off onto someone else, the sooner he could retreat into his office, and drown his misery in Cognac.

“Right this way then. There is the man which you seek, by that tank, that’s Colonel Volgin.” He skittered along the edge of the crowd, not particularly inclined to venture into a writhing sea of naked men. Unusual, for the Major, but he was still heartbroken over the loss of Stefan.

“Colonel!” He called out, “we have a slight --” problem, was the word he wanted to use. “We have visitors.” Krauss did his best to smile, but it was useless, and hopeless.  

[identity profile] hajimenoippolit.livejournal.com
Senior Lieutenant Ippolit Zosimovitch Rakitin waited in the helicopter and tried not to think about wolves.

There was an old story they used to tell, about a wolf in the sky. The gods thought they could control it, but it grew too big and it grew too fast, and ferocious things turn on their handlers. They told it the binding was only a game, but no wolf is that stupid. For collateral, a god's right hand, bold interloper rappeling into the cavern of blood-scented breath beneath stalactite incisors. And when the deal was broken and the trap revealed, there lay the forfeit, sheared off at the wrist.

The first reason Ippolit had this job was that he remembered stories.

Outside of the thin steel shell, a man's voice called to another. Distant forms were outlined against the tarmac, as though it had come down with something that made it break out in uneven splotches of humanity. Life went on, motion and action, removed by an intangible membrane from the here and now of thought and stasis.

None of the figures seemed to be moving toward where the Kamov dozed, but the rising ripples of heat made it difficult to tell.

The second reason was that he never jumped to conclusions.

"Find the murderer," General Olavyenko had said, barely looking at him as he threw down a file whose emptiness spoke volumes. He had added, with a sort of gruff magnanimity, as though he should show gratitude for being handed a valuable secret, "And keep your nose out of what doesn't concern you."

Ippolit had spent most of the time from then until he was to report here - hardly any time at all, which he tried very hard to believe was due simply to the urgency of the mission - asking questions about this Groznyj Grad.

The closest thing he had gotten to an answer was a Captain who had done nothing but laugh.

And the third, maybe the only one that mattered, was that he stuck his hand where no one else would.

Restless, Ippolit's eyes ran a thousanth lap of the Kamov's interior. The other one should have been here by now.

There was that, at least. No matter what sort of place this was, he wouldn't be going into it alone.

Or, as far as he knew, he could be walking into a den of wolves with a tiger at his back.

Ippolit waited, and tried not to think.
[identity profile] krasnogorje.livejournal.com

The hallways of the East Wing were delightfully warm after spending all morning out in the cold and snow and ice on the summit of the Krasnogorje mountain.

In all honesty, Io was thankful for a fluff assignment, even if it was designated to him for the cosmonaut’s own personal amusement. Anything to be out of the cold and away from the new recruits for a few hours. They were entirely exhausting.

And it had been the vaguest, most useless assignment his commander had ever given him: “go do something counterproductive to military efficiency.” It was a clear enough message though: controlled sabotage, in doses just large enough to be annoying, potentially even infuriating, but leaving no real damage in their wake.

Like painting caricatures of naked ladies on the posters of Lenin and Stalin tacked up in Red Square. That was the sort of humorous anarchy the Fury would have enjoyed. Io himself had laughed all the way to the gulag about taking vulgar artistic license with the pictures, among other supposed acts of treason against the state.

It seemed like a lifetime ago, but it had only been three short years.

He chose the hallway right outside of Volgin’s office for his experiment for the particular acoustic properties of that particular corridor. Where the concrete floor turned to marble, and the ceilings arched, everything echoed down the hall and into the main cluster of offices.

He would have preferred somewhere far, far way from the Colonel and his sudden electrical outbursts, but the Fury had assured him he would be relatively safe, so long has he kept his fuel tanks strapped securely to his back. Even Volgin, the cosmonaut claimed, was not stupid enough electrocute a walking bomb.

The officers that he passed in the narrow hallway scowled their typical disproval, and it thinly veiled their distrust for the flame soldier. He caught some of them actually staring, as though they had never seen a man in a respirator and flame suit, equipped with a flamethrower, and carrying a simple wooden violin and bow.

At least the vultures on the mountainside had been an appreciative audience. They even sort of resembled the Fury, he mused, taking off his gloves. Narrow, dark eyes, mostly bald heads with a few wispy strands of black hair here and there, constantly walking around with wings outstretched and waiting for something to die. Yes, that sounded exactly like his commander, a comparison he would most definitely have to share with the others at mess.

The offices, however, were filled with beautiful secretaries, and it made no difference to Io if the filthy whores had already been bedded by Volgin, Krauss, and half of the military base.

Without so much as an introduction to the GRU officers watching him with apprehension, the Krasnogorje Lieutenant touched the bow to the stings, and began his mournful, eerie song. It echoed through the halls, filled the offices, whispered tragic words of unrequited love, painted imagery of a cold white moon rising against a black night sky. It was something he wrote long ago, and Io smiled as the tragic melody returned to him in its entirety.

It flowed from the violin in ashen notes, drifting to the floor; a story written with arpeggios and broken chords. By the time he got to the part about the pilot whom killed his wife in a fit of rage, people were peering out of their offices to see where the mournful melody was coming from.

Io shut his eyes and continued playing as they congregated around him in the narrow hallway. Volgin would be along soon enough to ruin it all, and he wanted to enjoy it while it lasted.


[identity profile] major-ocelot-2u.livejournal.com
SRIDA, 12 FEVRAI, 1964: 18:00 hours

[OOC: Two weeks after the first body is discovered. Ocelot is in the East Wing, walking toward the Shagohod Hangar. Anyone is free to jump in, or start coexisting threads.]


The day was nearly over, and the shadows hung long in the East Wing halls.

The Grad was industrious, striking in quartz precision like the innards of a clock. Ocelot walked in counterpoint to this timekeeping, his spurs clanking with languid haste.

The victim had just been indentified dentally as GRU Captain Mikhail Stovanovich Molokov. Or Styopa, as he'd been more commonly known around the Grad. Styopa was a handsome blond man of about thirty-two, a sometime fixture, a decent enough officer to Ocerlot's mind. He was in charge of supervising the delivery of supplies and requisitions from Moscow, and came through with the helicoptors every three months, looking staunchly official and polished within an inch of his life. He was General Olavyenko's personal attaché, and though he didn't like being reminded of it, Volgin reported, loosely, to Olavyenko.

This probably went over like a lead balloon, thought Ocelot, glad he hadn't been privy to that phone call.

No, Volgin didn't need the resources of GRU or Mother Russia. But he did need Olavyenko to keep leaving him alone in his outpost at the frontier edge of the Motherland.

Ocelot's lip twisted as he crossed the East Wing Atrium, and passed the library where scientists thumbed through books with downcast eyes.

Some sick murdering fuck. That was fucking great. The one thing Groznyj Grad didn't need another one of.

Oceelot knew Volgin wanted answers yesterday. He hadn't solved their little problem, yet. He intended to.

Lieutenant Imanov had been studying criminal psychology before he got his conscription notice. The obvious thing would be to avail himself of Ilya Piotryvich's expertise and insight by picking his brain, which Ocelot had every intention of doing.

But it was that same expertise that gave him pause. Imanov knew a little too much about the subject. Imanov had been conspicuously indisposed at the time. There was no presumption of innocence. Not here.

The previous week he'd only had a few minutes to speak with his lieutenant before Khostov had wrenched him back into quarantine with a wagging finger and a baleful glare. Ocelot hadn't mentioned the murder, but he assumed Imanov must know by now. ...If he hadn't known before.

Ilya hadn't looked good, but Ocelot knew that didn't necessarily preclude his involvement. A man could be sick in a lot of ways.

If it was Imanov, he would want to find out quick, and hush the inquiry. It would require serious disciplinary restrictions and short leash, but he didn't let his men go down easily. He wasn't going to lose his second in command over some unfortunate piece of ass, General's attache or not.

And the American.

Ocelot's eyes narrowed.

Everyone knew that Capitalist dogs were the sickest fucks of all fucks so afflicted. They'd never had a problem like this before. Never this....animal sickness.

Was it just a coincidence that the Boss showed up with her hairy, grunting lap dog, and a handsome young Russian wound up sexually tortured and violated?
[identity profile] capt-kasya.livejournal.com
[SRIDA, 29 YANVAR, 0030 hours]

[OOC: Warning, description of dead body to follow.]

Here. )
[identity profile] vostok-n2o4.livejournal.com
ATTN:  Col. Volgin, whoever else wants to join...


[identity profile] shadowstark.livejournal.com
It was around the right time for a report to be handed in to the clerks, and Aleksandr Leonovich Granin, honored two times with the Order of Lenin, once with the Order of Stalin, designer of highly effective, highly expensive weaponry, was craving his vodka. He'd liked it better when Tanya had driven him to the complex. She'd asked questions about his work, and though Granin doubted she understood any of it, it had been better than sitting next to this... this dullard through the trip.

He wasn't even looking forward to it any longer. He had nothing to report except some vague numbers and plans that would probably sit on someone's desk, unused. There was little to discuss with his superiors, since they had no real concept of the sheer brilliance of his still-unfunded plans. It was all very routine these days, and he already knew that this day would end by finding Colonel Volgin, asking for money to finance his projects, and being refused. The man was an idiot just like all his soldiers. Ah, how he needed a distraction on days like these...

The truck spluttered to a halt, and Granin opened his eyes. "Looks like it overheated," said the nameless, boring, and probably stupid soldier who was even now jumping out to look at the engine. Granin had seen men like him work on engines before. He'd probably blow it up.

They were only 200 yards from the complex gates, and there was no point to delaying it. Maybe today would be different. Maybe he'd convince Volgin to fund him and stem the flood of money leaking to that pathetic Sokolov. Granin shook his head and got out of the vehicle, making sure all his papers were with him. "I'll walk," he said. Maybe he'd find a guard wandering around with something to drink before he found Volgin.

Between

Oct. 4th, 2006 02:10 pm
[identity profile] elyseexpatriate.livejournal.com
The Sorrow wondered still why death was feared so terribly.

Men feared pain, oblivion, the brunt of rage, even fear itself. Often men feared their own joys, for fear they would be taken from them.

Death was, by definition, where none of them could reach.

He existed at the edge, suspended between the dead and the living and envying neither.

Killing was a sorrow. Dying was not.

Life surrounded him, here where the roads of the fortress met. A city on reduced scale, it aspired to singular purpose, a lone austere industry. But no matter the environment, the banalities of human life would endure. A complaining gate rumbled open to let through a truck loaded with crates of potatoes, and closed again. A pair of soldiers leaned in the lee of a building, sharing a cigarette. Floating a few inches from the world's surface, The Sorrow smiled.

He liked crossroads.

Admittedly, the floating was an affectation. The man beside him, though no more corporeal, stood firmly rooted to the soil.

"You wander from your body again," said The Sorrow, a shade reproachfully.

"Pah!" The End turned his head and spat, a purely symbolic action. "The old thing's not got much use left in it anyhow. Only needs to last a little while longer. Might as well keep you company in the meanwhile."

The Sorrow watched a flight of crows parallel the western horizon. Their caws reached clearly across a long distance. "You have little sentimentality for living."

"Eh." The End shrugged. "All things wither in their time. Why should I be any different? But I have one more battle to fight." An eye swiveled toward his comrade. "What of you? You've served your duty twice over by now. You've got more'n a right to--" he gestured vaguely-- "...go on ahead.

A boy exited a nearby building, walking with a purposeful stride. He was young for the uniform, let alone the Major's stars that adorned it, with a bearing that dared anyone to suggest he hadn't earned them.

"I, too, have promises to keep," said The Sorrow. "And miles to go."

"Hmph." The End's gaze roved to the fortress' main wing, built, or so evidence suggested, by an architect who put looming at a premium. "Hell of a place. 'Abandon all hope, ye who--"

"Please, old friend," The Sorrow interrupted gently. "I am so very tired of Dante."

The two spirits fell silent. Behind them, footsteps passed, the staccatto of heavy boots. A soldier shouted at another.

A bead of red gathered, unbidden, at the corner of an eye that watched, as the boy passed by them unseeing to disappear into the fortress' maw.

"'Between the essence and the descent,'" The Sorrow murmured.

"What?" said The End.

"Nothing."

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The Groznyj Grad Living Novel

December 2010

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