Nightfall

Aug. 16th, 2008 05:50 pm
[identity profile] hajimenoippolit.livejournal.com
The day passed in slow silence. The pall of presence just out of sight never lifted, a haunting by the living. There was a point that even Polya could tell not to press.

That night he and Nika parted ways with the nod that was becoming habit. Polya couldn't find the words to ask if he was going to be all right.

There was a bond between him and Isaev deeper than Rakitin could comprehend, the severing of it even more so.

As they had learned to when given no strict direction, his steps took him toward the range. It was better to do something productive when weariness began to register.

A false positive, for some time yet. It was surprising how little a body really needed.

He crossed the base, passing soldiers like ghosts.

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."
[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
Rakitin stared at the results as though he could burn through them.

Not just arsenic, but cyanide as well. And, still, something else. As if killing someone one way weren't enough.

Whoever had devised this was a twisted little bastard.

It was some kind of animal venom, that much was certain. Originating from any of the dozens of deadly creatures that made the woods and swamps around Groznyj Grad their home. Or anywhere else in the world. Whoever the bastard was, Rakitin wouldn't put it past him to drag a toad from its home on a muddy river bottom in South America just to make a poison more difficult to combat.

The adversary was growing into a presence in Polya's mind. This was a direct contest, in its own way, with someone who would go to any lengths to hurt the Colonel.

That aspect was more unfathomable than any mysterious toxin.

Slowly, Rakitin was drawing closer to the answer. He wouldn't lose. Just as long as it wasn't too late.
[identity profile] leshovik.livejournal.com
Air kissed the back of Leshovik's neck, as cold as a lover.

They emerged from behind an escarpment and took a jagged scar down to the footpath below, managing to scatter a minimum of dust and debris in their wake. Even he and Aryol were sweating from the cross-country trek carrying their rifles and over thirty kilos of gear over rugged terrain; they hadn't wanted to chance the path that led to Groznyj Grad until the last possible minute, just in case they ran into a patrol.

Lemsky lagged behind. Leshovik hadn't particularly wanted to leave the little fucker at his back, but Lemsky obviously didn't have the physical training or endurance they did, and had struggled to keep up.

Vindictively, Leshovik pushed a hard pace, stopping every so often to glare at Lemsky, goading him on with a bluesteel gaze, sparing him the lambasting only because of the need for stealth.

In some ways, Leshovik missed the cave already. It had been simple, there.

Aryol shot him looks every so often, his gaze pointed and piercing. There were times when it felt like his spotter could see right through him. He had in the cave, Leshovik knew. Aryol had known something was wrong, though at the same time, hadn't understood.

It had been all Leshovik could do to hold it together, then, to keep packing like there wasn't an icy lump in his chest threatening to spread into a burn. A couple of times, he'd caught his hands trembling and had nearly lost it, but the thought of showing weakness in front of either Aryol or Lemsky had pulled him back from the edge.

The forced march had been good, though. Focusing. He'd had to expend so much energy walking that he hadn't had the concentration to get worked up about Lynx.

It had taken on a surreal quality in his mind now, almost like a nightmare, the kind where familiar people became the apotheoses of their own exaggerated traits. Lynx as destroyer, god of a vengeance so detached it was inhuman.

The wound still ran deep, even though his mind shied away from it, now.

He signaled Aryol to stop so they could wait for Lemsky to catch up. They weren't far from the Grad. Just around the switchback path, and they'd be in sight of the main gates.

And the men who guarded them.

Part of Leshovik still thought this was crazy, masquerading as assassin-killers rather than the assassins they were, but trust Lynx to come up with a plan that defied ordinary expectations.

Trust Lynx, he thought, a bitter slash of a smile ghosting his lips.

Problem was, he did.

He brushed his hand across his right ear, slotting Lynx's in-between CODEC frequency.

"Longshot to Lynx. We're outside the gates."
[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] leshovik.livejournal.com
“Target,” Aryol whispered to him. “Sector D, from TRP I right sixteen, add sixteen.”

They lay in wait on the rooftop, side by side, nearly touching; close enough to share warmth, twinned slender figures with rifles, wearing balaclavas and night camo.

Aryol peered down at the building through binoculars, rifle tucked behind him, while Leshovik adjusted his Dragunov minutely, and brought the target in view.

There. A large man, massively broad-shouldered and impressively tall, silhouetted in the window, vulnerable for the moment. The interval of opportunity for the shot ticked off in fractions of seconds.

“Target identified,” Leshovik replied, and checked his mil-dot reticle, with smooth, mechanical precision.

He had done this with success fifty-two times before. Only twelve misses. Not that he was counting those.

“Two point five mils,” Leshovik said.

“Roger that.” Aryol’s voice was crisp, steady and precise. “Dial 300.”

The kid was a good spotter; the best he’d ever worked with, in fact. Utterly calm, never made mistakes. He also had the uncanny aptitude for spotting a target, and that took more than just good eyes.

“Check.”

The target was still moving, and would soon pass out of sight, but he remained hyperfocused on the moment. Everything else faded save for Aryol’s voice in his ear, his rifle, and the slowly moving target.

“Wind from right, 9.6 klicks per hour. Mil one-quarter.”

“Roger,” Leshovik whispered, and made the final adjustment to his rifle.

He was aroused. It always happened, right before he took a shot in the field, when it was real and it counted.

Usually, he went for the spectacular kill. The carnage, as Lynx had called it. He liked to think about the people who pissed themselves upon seeing the body – or rather, what remained of the corpse’s grey matter, splattered on the wall.

But this time…something about what Lynx had said stuck with him, and he went for the quiet kill at the back of the head, brain-stem; immaculate, they called it, if you did it right, one clean hole that bled out, and left a pretty corpse.

I’ll show you fucking art.

He took the shot.

The bullet traveled at supersonic speed, so he saw the result before he heard the pop and echo of the silenced round.

Clean hole through the window, but a spectacular explosion of brain tissue and bone fragments from the top of the target’s head.

“Christ!” His breath caught in his throat, but he performed the follow-through by rote, and chambered another round. “Did I – ”

“You got him.”

“I didn’t mean to – ” he broke off again.

Aryol looked at him, but only for a moment as he stowed away his binoculars. “Come on. We need to get out of here. You didn’t mean to what?”

“Nothing.” He pulled back, slinging his rifle around his shoulder and carefully retreating to the leeward side of their roost, where the ladder was.

He hadn’t meant to turn the target into a geyser of blood. Christ, had he misjudged? He’d meant to aim the shot at the base of his skull, but had ended up taking off the top of his head instead.

It had shaken him up, more than he wanted to admit. He stilled his hands into fists. He had to focus. A kill was a kill, and that was number fifty-three, another notch to mark in his rifle.

Aryol stayed silent, even as they cleared the perimeter. He probably didn’t realize that he’d meant to do anything differently, Leshovik thought. The kid was long used to the way Leshovik killed, like a impressionistic assassin who drew on the walls in blood.

That was its own kind of art, he told himself.

Halfway back to the cave, he hit his Codec. “Longshot to Lynx. We took out the target. Repeat, we got him. Thunderbolt is dead.”
[identity profile] snow-death.livejournal.com
"Lynx to Longshot," he said quietly, finessing his Codec to the inbetween-frequency that should have hosted no signal at all. "I'm approaching your bivouac."

They had three of them for sleeping, tan canvas painted with black shadows and slung with branches- undiscernible deep inside the cave they'd staked their ops in. Hammocks inside. Cozy.

One for him, one for Lemsky, and one for the sniper and his spotter, who quietly had begun the practice of becoming one in other kinds of wetwork, and no one objected or made a single comment. That was how it was.

He ducked beneath the slung and draped net dark brown camoflauge that served to block the mouth of the cavern and obscure them from view. It was set in about fifteen feet, making the deep cave look like a shallow grotto. Not that it was easily visible.

At the Grad, he'd pieced his silent way across the snowbound vehicle yard, tracked in the direction in which he thought he'd seen the glint of Leshovik's rifle, but once he got there, he found the probable nest deserted.

The Longshot had packed it in, and flown back to their roost.

No Codec, no nothing.

Must have been in a hurry.

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December 2010

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