Dystopia Chapter 24

From the Story Arc: Dystopia

Previous Story in the Arc: Dystopia - Sofia's Journal by Krasnaya Zarya (Thursday, August 17, 2006)

Next Story in the Arc: Dystopia Chapter 28 by Krasnaya Zarya (Monday, August 21, 2006)

(posted Saturday, August 19, 2006)

The denser parts of the forests of Siberia were generally considered untraversable to those who were not natives of the region: thick greenery obscuring the sun, dangerous flora and fauna mingling among the more well-known and idyllic evergreens and moss, and great perils for those who come unprotected. Survival for great periods of time was quite possible, with all the necessary nuts, berries and fungi to keep an herbivore going, but for every edible mushroom one found, there were several deathly poisonous ones lurking. Not to mention the various diseases running rampant and transmissible via the insect population.

At this point, deep within the forest and kilometers from the nearest road, Aleksander wandered a strange beeline through the trees. Every segment of his traversal was perfectly straight – something only possible in the terrain due to the mechanical exactness of an android's senses – with periodic sharp changes in direction. His gaze was leveled straight ahead, whichever direction that may be at any given moment, without so much as a flicker to his surroundings. Not that he had to worry about any dangers here, his robotic shell immune to encephalitic lice, thorny bushes and poisonous snakes.

Up close, his actions seemed random, his turnings without rhyme or reason. From a grander perspective, one could see he was making a very hazy circle around a point far in the distance. What occupied this circle was the true destination of his ambulations, a low, flat structure made of steel reinforced concrete and hidden by a covering of dirt and transplanted trees: the military bunker housing his otherworldly duplicate and the traitorous ISB Agent, Viy.

He couldn't go straight there, though; the bunker was surrounded by rather advanced security mechanisms including a series of electromagnetic fields that would set off alarms if any metal larger than a coin passed between any of the control rods – for a robot, this was a no-go. Even worse, he couldn't just leave his body and pass through it in his incorporeal natural form, for not only would the field play random havoc on his consciousness, it would probably distort the field enough to set off the alarms as well.

So now he found himself wondering the edge of the barrier, carefully following the barrier and probing it for any potential entry point. If he had more time, he would simply dig underneath it, or build a device to mask his presence by interfering with the field just so; but time was something neither he nor Alex had. Instead, he was trying to examine the control rods themselves, but they were generally hidden inside dead trees and the like, and were fairly tamper-proof. He was beginning to think he'd have to go the less covert route, and attack one of the guard points.

But that would be no good. His trump card had long since been lost; Viy knew he was an android (in a sense), and any obvious assault on the base would bring him face to face with another squad of electromagnetic pulse guns, and he wasn't sure if a strong enough pulse wouldn't permanently end his freak existence. So he would have to find another way; lack of time meant no building a device to help – plus Viy had fairly successfully destroyed his labs.

He would need to get help.

He continued trudging forwards, following the zig-zag of the invisible barrier, easily detected by his inhuman senses. He had already traveled over halfway around the base, so it made no sense to turn around now, taking the longer trek backwards. Besides, there was still a chance that he would be able to find a convenient entrance, perhaps some foxhole that bypassed the border.

A few hours later, he finally reached the normal entrance to the military zone and hid down behind a tree, watching it from a distance. He'd forgotten that the first gate would be on this side, between him and his car, which he had left in the brush some five kilometers away from the electronic fence. There were two troops standing guard at this checkpoint, whittling away the hours in the small concrete structure that controlled the swing arm. A checkpoint was really all it was, since the arm was all that stopped a vehicle from traveling further into the forbidden territory. The real fence and entrypoint was another kilometer along the gravel path, where a more substantial security force kept an eye on things. This was mostly to turn back civilians who had taken the wrong turn on the mostly unmarked roads.

As much as he wanted to mark these two soldiers as the beginning of an undoubtedly large number of casualties resulting from his eventual showdown with Viy and rescue of his duplicate, caution and patience got the better of him and he began plotting his evasion of the watchful gaze of the forward guard. It would be a bit more difficult to do this quickly, though, as two deep trenches ran parallel to the roads, an incentive to remove any ideas people might have had to driving around the checkpoint – not that many would be able to, given the difficult terrain.

Instead he made a sharp right turn and began walking parallel to the road, away from his eventual target and towards safety. His mind was already afire with different ways he might deal with this given checkpoint, and the one further down, once he found a way past the electromagnetic barrier. In all reality, the actual combat wouldn't occur until after he had retrieved Alex and they started making their hasty escape. Part of him hoped that he would encounter Viy then, so that he could tell the villain what he truly thought of him – using beams of energy instead of words, of course – but his more conscientious side told him that Viy would only make things more difficult, and the escape would need to go quickly and smoothly for them to be able to escape through the portal.

He would need help, and he already had an idea of whom to go to. He was afraid of bringing her into it, heaven knows Sofia had been through enough traumatic experiences to last a lifetime, and he certainly didn't want to bring her into something this dangerous. He had, over the course of the last decade, removed any overt connections between the two of them, only visiting her periodically and covertly, to keep her safe from the sorts of hoodlums like Viy, who would use her to control him.

And it had devastated her. A necessary evil, much to his sadness – if what he could feel was sadness, lacking the endocrine system to truly create emotions. Once he got the secrets of the portal, he would take her out of this world, into one where she could live peacefully, where he could find a way to create body for himself that was capable of returning her emotions. Which meant that he would bring her here, instruct her on how to modify a control rod so that he could pass through, grab Alex and return, the three of them leaving for good.

He was brought out of his mental revelry as he heard the sound of a vehicle approaching. He ducked behind a tree and peeked out, the telltale greens of a military vehicle emerging from the checkpoint. It zoomed past, kicking up gravel and dirt from the road as it went. It was a large personnel truck, carrying a full compliment of soldiers. Probably going to his laboratory in case more people arrive via the portal anchor. Or to steal more of my inventions, he mused.

He stepped out from the tree only to dart back as a second passed by, this time a long black car, sleek and modern. One of the ISB's vehicles, commissioned to evoke the old fear of the early KGB's black ravens, and no doubt off to pick up some poor scientist who could help Viy decipher the devices brought from the alternate universe.

He waited a suitable amount of time to be sure there would be no third car, then resumed his trek.