8/24: Old Blood

From the Story Arc: Zepoch and the WCO

Previous Story in the Arc: WCO Report - Petrograd by Petrograd (Thursday, August 19, 2004)

Next Story in the Arc: 8/26: Fallen Comrades by Petrograd (Thursday, August 26, 2004)

(posted Tuesday, August 24, 2004)

Snow is not good for stealth. While swirling winds full of ice and feet in depth of snow can make an average man nearly impossible to see, these same benefits become disasterous when one is not worried about being seen.


Indeed, I imagined self, even now: man-shapes spirt pushing through wind, pressing in snow, but not there. Is kins of thing to give peasant nightmares.


But largest problem is vission. In Russian winter, visibility is two meters or less during nights, and flying near ground has much too much risk of crash, even with heat vission and radars. Crash would draw attention, if not fatal.


But there is end of path. I see squares of light, can only be gatehouse.. and there is office. One metal shutter half-shut, as agreed. Poor Gregoriy must be frozen to chair.


----


Colonel Gregoriy Zapatov sat bundeled in his chair, the coal stove up to full and his vodka around half. The warmth from both likely would have helped if it wasn't for the damn shutter. Gregoriy looked out the half-open window to his responsibility, a full squadron of SU-27s, burried under a full meter of snow. Well, on paper it was full. He had had to trade two Flankers to westerners just to feed his men after the military infastructure broke up. He could be relieved of his position, but his men came first.


He still didn't know why he had agreed to meet his former commander. His desk held a plaque qith an artistic rendering of his old service days, a snappy young cadet in the 3rd, his flying armor shining like a future that had never come. The 'Old Man' was engaged in a kind of war he hadn't seen since Afghanistan, and then he had been on the recieving end. And with all the black skirmishes, with all the guerilla warfare and politcal coverups and intelligence gathering, they still had nothing.


Gregoriy's thoughts were disturbed as the wind slammed the inexpensive door open. Gregoriy cursed familirarly, and got up to shut the damn thing. It happened at least once a night, no matter how many times they tried to fix it. He half-heartedly kicked some snow back outside and then gave the door a good hard kick, rattling the frame around it. In his youth, he could have smashed the thing to pieces, but that was far in he past.


"Be careful Gregoriy, your old bones might not listen to you."


Gregoriy turned sharply and was only mildly suprised to see Colonel Derinsky in the folding chair he had for visitors. Even at 6 decades, the man was like a boy, always coming up with new tricks. Actually, the only time Gregoriy had seen his commander look old was after the Rikti siege of Moscow. Ivan had viewed that as his own fault, a stupid notion considering the circumstances. Gregoriy always assumed that the scientists had built Derinsky's armor to preserve him: All things of Soviet make were sturdy and long lasting. If an AK-47 could last three generations of constant action, why not a hero?


At the moment his shining armor was covered in black paint, and he had an American night-vission system jurry-rigged onto his helmet. He looked every bit the tin commando, complete with stocky tin arms.


"Bah, is good to see retired fly-boys get good pension for their play-things. So now we are invisible comrade?"


"Hahahaha! Da, private, perhaps you will to know in fifteen more years! And da, am invisible. Is only way to get wherever one wants."


"Ivan, you know I have been Colonel for five. And I wish we had the Firefoxes you steal ideas from. Bah, enough banter, have some vodka, and we will get to business."


Derinsky gladly took a swig. That is to say, he ran the tube out of his filter into the bottle: One of his first mechanical contraptions which had aggrivated his commissars to no end. Also ingenious was the rebreather, in which he could smoke a cigarette without inerupting his speech, as he was doing now. The orange glow looked thouroughly strange, protruding from the side-mounted breather, puffing away while Ivan talked. It looked almost as if it had been left in an ashtray.


"Da, da. You know what I have asked, and you know why. So here it is again: Who of our units killed Worker's Champion?"


"None, Comrade."


"Gregoriy, this does not amuse me."


"Nor I, comrade. However, I can honestly say no ex-Soviet unit was involved in the explosions."


"Bah.... if we didn't do it.... perhaps he aggrivated his bosses?"


"Ivan, you know how this goes. We cannot find any info on his 'bosses.' We barely have evidence he is dirty. Hell comrade, I would not believe you had I not seen Zepoch. We have exhausted all sources and still we find nothing."


"Keep the dogs hunting, comrade, and they will find fox."


"They are still searching, but nothing is found. He is invisible, like you. And ginat shadow organization too. We have not even seen supersoldiers since late July. Have you gotten any info from CCCP contacts?"


"Bah."


"You are sharing with them, da?"


"Not lately. Leadership was at Champion's beck and call right up until 'death.' Da, they resisted his policies, moslty with clever politics, but always acknowledged him as leader. I do not see why they are so blind, I even gave them eyes with your cameras, but none listen.


Aside from which, I cannot to trust them. Are all good-hearted, but most are too tied up in own emotions to be of use. All those intelligent and willing seem too secretive, are always like slipping veil over my eyes, are always holding something back. Comrades there are now dissappearing like flies. Mojiotok was definately not self, and even Sergei called me 'only ceremonial,' like I was statue from old Russia to be polished up and set in front of HQ. Are much too flakey."


"This is sad news. First break came from American CCCP. All we have founds are like rat tails from wall, we grab or stomp and they dissappear."


"Bah, enough of this. Thank you my friend. It was good to see you in old gear at Zepoch. Will you to join me?"


"Nyet, tovarisch. I am too old to be flying in such jittery rig in this whether. Where will you go next?"


"I must be back in America during day to keep up partol schedule. But tommarow I fly for Moscow. I will see his base with own eyes, perhaps will to be more clues."


"Good luck. Entier area is cordoned off."


"Da, this is why I am working on new device."


"You and your toys comrade... well, good hunting."


"Do svedanya Gregoriy, and try to keep out of cold."


And, with what Gregory could only assume to be a smile, Petrograd faded into nothingness. Gregoriy opened the door, and he watched the silouhette in the snow shoot up past the clouds before hearing the sonic boom.


"Godspeed comrade, I hope you find enough to bury Worker's Champion, in life or in your head." Gregoriy slammed the door and went back to his vodka, remembering the glory days.