back with a vengeance
On forum: 07/31/2003
A Curious Destiny.|
As the butt of the automatic rifle pressed against his shoulder and the chamber loaded, he looked up to the loose spattering of clouds, some dark and ominous, others fading into wisps. Shivering, he held his stare into the clouds, pondering how he was to go about the rest of his life, thinking of things to do once he got out, if he ever did. What now rested in this soul's hands was more than any human could endure. Yet here remained an objection to that claim, an anomaly that seemed to lose that one weakness. Within him some motivation existed - whether by angst or by the strange set of his mind, he himself did not know the answer. But killing, as he saw it, was of his nature, his rebuttal to all the things he hated in his life, to all that had once belittled and betrayed him. He felt that every death he caused was wrong in every sense, but needed all the same. The chamber loaded, and a grim look of determination drew across his face. His eyes refocused and drew down to the house: it's rickety porch and the peeled paint on the outside, the shackled second floor, with shattered windows placed erroneously about the house. With some abstruse sort of calculation, he knew where he was to enter, what he was to do, and where he was to exit. A makeshift plan would have to do for the interior, although his spotting had confirmed the entries and exits of certain rooms. He knew of the baneful presence within; it was only a matter of time before he himself entered and made proof of what he thought. He began his solemn march to the entry and understood that his presence was known. The sound of heavy feet stumbling across the wooden surface emanated from the second floor of the house, coming towards the window. It was now or never. Instinctively, he crouched behind a tree and waited for the monster to pass. He would know when it passed; his exposure to the radiation had not left him unscathed. The feet shuffled from the window back into the bowels of the house and back into the portal of darkness from whence it came. He crept out from under the tree, rifle at the ready, went out of the sun's ray shining down upon him, and into the darkness of the unknown. His left hand drew from the rifle as he came near the porch and reached for a priceless commodity that few in Chernobyl could accumulate; a standard issue M-3 High explosive fragmentation grenade. He bit the pin and promptly pulled back the grenade, then heaved it into the second floor window. As the grenade held its trajectory towards the open window, slightly impaired by shards of broken glass, he rushed to the porch, kicked open the door, and aimed directly at the stairwell. As the mangled screams of the zombies resonated off the walls of the house, the clunk of the grenade hitting the opposite end of the house pleased him; he'd hit his mark. The screams continued as he heard the feet thump down the stairs. His rifle still at his shoulder, he waited for the signal, the first foot to stumble into his vision, and the first zombie to die. As the first foot fell to the next step, the grip on the trigger tightened, and as the body came into view, it began. The grenade exploded, vaporizing the wood around it and obliterating the weak walls and floor of the second story. His view untarnished, he squeezed the trigger and held it to the spot. One disfigured beast after another tumbled down the stairs, only to be joined by the bullets exiting his rifle, and shortly thereafter the bodies which fell before it. The sound of bullets ripping through flesh abruptly stopped and were replaced by the click of an empty clip. In some sort of inhuman reflex, his rifle was halfway to the ground by the time his pistol had been brought out. The house was silent. A few wood splinters still fell to the ground, and an eerie hiss grew from a broken valve within a wall of the house, undoubtedly pierced by a bullet. The wall of the staircase had been ripped up by so many bullets and so much blood had plastered to the wall that it seemed almost as if the wall was bleeding. His mission accomplished, he heaved a sigh and closed his eyes. Opening them back up, he knew that he had gotten what he wanted. Still in the doorway, he started walking past the staircase, and down into the basement. He saw a few oil lamps strewn upon different areas of the small, unfinished basement, but without the presence of anyone else. He turned to his right and gazed upon the ragged, poorly painted drawing of what appeared to be a couple visiting over a dinner in Paris. Wouldn't that be the life, he thought. He crouched and began pulling out the loose bricks below the painting, carefully removing each one. By the time he had finished this, a decently large opening stood before him, and within it a large, green, rectangular metal box. He grabbed it by its sides and pulled it out. As he opened it, he grinned and relished the moment. Before him lay 4 LAWS rocket launchers, 15 clips of 7.62 high explosive rounds, a '62 vintage cabernet red wine, 10 HE grenades, and what came last pleased him most of all. His 64' Winchester rifle, with a 10x variable scope, replaced titanium barrel and bolt, aluminum trigger and folding stock, and 300 rounds, bored specifically for his gun. He gently closed the box, held his pistol in hand, took the handle with his other hand, and walked off towards his destiny.
Chapter 2: The setup
(In a bunker residing within the plains of Russia, 800 miles SE of Ukraine, in the year 2006)
"General, here's the report you requested," a female voice sputtered. Startled from the voice, the general whipped around, then smiled.
"Thanks," the general replied, obviously pleased. As the secretary tiptoed out of the office and shut the door, the general slowly sat down, and the seemingly genuine smile turned into a frown of dissatisfaction and anger.
GMT: 1800 Hours
Status: MIA. All attempts to establish communications with the team have failed, as well as aerial photography to attempt to spot them. The team missed the third rendezvous point and since then has made no communications with base. Audio supplement enclosed.
"Gah, why can't they just write this shit instead of making me plug it in to this damned computer?" the general mumbled, still sore after the sleepless night he had filling in overdue proposals. The general flipped over the manila envelope, held his hand under it and caught the mini-disc without much thought, having apparently done the same action many times before. Still frustrated from the lack of sleep, he shoved the disc into the drive located right beneath the monitor. A calm, seemingly unnatural feminine voice emanated from the speakers placed on either side of the monitor.
"Hello. This is the status report regarding HawkFlight. Please enter your 17-digit code and place your hand withi:" The general had anticipated this and was already entering in the number as he placed his left hand on the screen.
"Yea, yea, lets hurry it up you damned piece of crap! I entered the damned number, you saw my hand, let's go!"
"Greetings, General Romanov. Please hold while the briefing is repaired." As the disgruntled general tapped his finger anxiously against the desk, the over-enthusiastic voice came back.
"Thank you for waiting. The current map being displayed is an overview of Chernobyl." Just as this was said, a window appeared on the screen displaying a satellite overview of the area, with a few seemingly misplaced dots of different colors.
"What you see before you is Chernobyl. The green dots indicate the intended trajectory of the team. The numbers above them indicate the precise time in which the team was to arrive and radio in. As you can see, the team failed to reach the extraction point outside of the nuclear plant. None of the information regarding the experiments could be found, however, recent satellite imagery suggests that some sort of explosion occurred about 1 kilometer away from the plant. High levels of radiation have been detected within a 15-mile radius of the plant, as the explosion was most likely a precursor to nuclear fallout. Evidence suggests that the team's failure was linked more directly to the fallout, not the explosion." The window drew from the screen as the voice kept talking.
"This is the end of the status report. If you wou:" General Romanov ejected the disc and threw it across the room. He took his hand and held his face, nervously massaging the unshaven stubble, staring holes into the wall. The door to his office flew open and the secretary stumbled in.
"Sir, you have the president on video phone. He wants to speak to you." Fear drew across the general's face as he stood up.
"No! He will be the death of me! Susan, get me a cab. I must get to the safe house. Now."
The secretary scuttled out of the room, fear having taken the best of her. Romanov, meanwhile, was hurriedly throwing on his brown, wool trench coat and an old, weathered top hat. The door to his office opened and the flushed secretary stumbled in, breathing heavily.
"The cab," she gasped, "will be here in about 10 minutes. Petrov asked about what all the fuss was, I told him you were heading to a brunch." Placing her hand on her knee and leaning down, she took a few deep breaths, then stood back up.
"Good, good," replied the general, still pulling erroneous files from his cabinets. "When I leave, check over the office. Make sure anything and everything of importance is gone. Do you understand?"
"Yes, yes, I-I see. I'll start right now."
"That's fine. Thank you for all you've done," he said, "I'm sorry I couldn't give you a more formal thanks, but I must be off." The general stepped over the small waste bin that tipped over in his office with his briefcase in hand, passed through the door, and off through the corridors of the facility. Petrov was standing near his office, sipping on coffee and reading the paper.
"Hey, rom, what's up? You look as if you've missed the last bus to heaven."
"Nothing. Just late for a brunch I set up with a few executives. If you don't mind, I must be off."
"No problem. Have fun" replied Petrov in a bitterly sarcastic tone, slightly raising his coffee mug. Romanov smiled.
"You know I will."
Chapter 3: Contact
The bleak summer left close to nothing untouched - what had one been green and sentient grew yellow and fragile, snapping at even the slightest breath of air. Striding through prairies, even at night, was an arduous task. Remaining unseen could be done, but remaining unheard was a feat that had yet to be accomplished. The landscape seemed that of a painting of the rural Midwest - an orange, melancholy sunset drew over the fading hills, as the sun settled into the horizon and the swaying grass grew and depressed in waves of orange. A few misplaced trees were dispersed through the landscape - their fronts illuminated by the aura of color from the horizon, while the leaves in shade seemed a dark, earthly green.
"Viktor, you got any more of the bacon left?"
"Yep. Lots of it."
"Damn, I was hoping that crap was gone. How about the bread?"
"Well, Norm, if you would stop eating the damned stuff maybe we'd have as much of that as we do bacon."
Stepan turned from the falling sunset to Viktor, munching on a small piece of bacon.
"You really like that crap, don't you?"
"No, but at least I don't feel hungry for bread when I'm done."
"Good point. Toss me a piece." Viktor reached into the pack, pulled out a slimy piece of meat and flipped it to Stepan.
"Thanks: Ugh." Stepan stared at the flimsy piece of meat and unwillingly shoved it into his mouth, distorting his face with each bite he took.
"This isn't an acting contest, you dolt. Just eat it," Viktor blurted. Stepan paused, then contorted his face for the last time as he swallowed the greasy slice of meat.
"Tasty. We going to call it a night, or do you just want to keep shoving your face with that crap?"
"You know me. I'll be eating this tasty stuff all night." Viktor grinned as Stepan rolled his eyes and lazily slumped to the ground. Viktor remained, gnawing on the seemingly endless supply of bacon they had started out with.
"Hey Viktor," Stepan said, gazing up at the now cloudless night. "What are we gunna do tomorrow?" Viktor spat out the indomitable piece of bacon and cleared his throat.
"Head over to the guard post on the northeast side. When I was in the ranks, we had a bunch of information heading through there. 'Course, that was 2 years ago or more. Things usually don't change much though. We can check it out, see if we can get something valuable there. If we don't find anything, we can check for this safe house I heard about a while back. I used to work for a general, you know, and one day he got up all worried lookin' and just left. Most say he went off to die, but the secretary slipped a little and talked about some 'safe house' he had down here. That sound like a busy enough day to you?"
"Well, seeing as there's not much else to do, sure. Can you keep the lookout for the first half of the night? I'm kind of tired."
"Sure. I'll wake you up when it's time." Viktor grabbed his AK-47SU, a piece of bacon, and started humming an old tune he had heard seemingly ages ago. Jim closed his eyes, adjusted his collar, and drifted off into the beautiful labyrinth that was his dream.
One eye opened to the yellow dawn on the horizon, then the next. Stepan rolled over and then slowly stood up, rubbing the grime and residue that had collected on his eyes overnight. A few thoughts rushed through his head, and suddenly his eyes grew wide. Stepan stumbled and scurried across the plains, looking for any indentations in the grass. Not more than 300 yards away, Stepan spotted not one, but two body-sized depressions in the field.
The first he came upon was Viktor's body, riddled by perhaps 15 bullets directly in the chest. His mouth was gaping, his eyes glazed and staring into the grass beside him. Stepan winced and clenched his fists, shaking slightly as his tears patted softly upon the dirt. His palms seeped blood from the yellowed, uncut fingernails digging into them, as the pain was phased out and the anger grew. His eyes still open, he ripped the AK-47SU from the lifeless hands of the riddled lump on the ground, searched for extra ammunition, grabbed Viktor's diary (which Viktor reluctantly admitted he had), then stood up.
Cautiously, he looked around then headed over to the other indentation in the grass. An older man, perhaps in his 40's, lay lifeless on the ground. A shrill wind reverberated off the trees, and the long, graying hair blew across the mans face. The clothes were ratty and grungy - a single piece brown jumpsuit with loads of pockets and not much else. Stowed in the mans pockets were a couple of smokes, a pistol clip, and a few irregular bullets - it seemed more of a collection that anything particularly useful.
Stepan turned northeast, then began marching, staring straight forward with tears streaming down his face. His jaw was still clenched and his left eye twitched as he saw a small pillar of smoke behind a hill on the small valley he was facing. A sinuous, wicked grin grew across Stepan's face, as tears adjusted their path to the new form of his face. Payback.
By the time Stepan had found the smoldering ashes of the fire, his killers were long gone. The only things remaining were half-eaten pieces of that crappy bacon he had had the night before, and a small ring of stones with which the fire was placed. Sighing, he kicked the dirt below him and sat down. What to do? Figuring that there was nothing else to be done, he once again re-oriented himself northeastward, then began his solemn march toward the guard house. A small, faint chirp of a bird rang off in the distance. Astonished, he looked towards the trees.
"Weird," he mumbled. "Haven't heard one of those for a month."
Chapter 4: The arrival
"Ivan, just what the hell are you doing?" Startled, Ivan looked into the doorway.
"Just, uh, making things tidy. Why?"
"We're in the middle of a nuclear fallout zone, and you want to 'make things tidy'? We're not here to feel comfortable. Unless I missed something."
"Well: I just like to feel at home. Is that alright?"
"As long as you stop being a moron, sure."
Ivan grunted and returned to his melodious task of arranging furniture ever so neatly along the walls of the run-down guard shack. Vladimir, who was a captain and superior of Ivan, walked back to his post, sat in his chair, and gazed out through the window, and within minutes began a very loud snore.
Looking through the doorway, Ivan sighed.
"Yep, there he goes again."
A small thud reverberated off of the wooden roof, and caught Ivan's otherwise questionable attention. Grasping his pistol, he drew open the creaky, wooden door and took a few steps out then looked back out upon the roof. Nothing. Ivan shrugged indifferently and went back to moving the furniture around. The stalker heaved a sigh. Lying down on top of the roof, he kept an open ear pressed to the roof, listening attentively for any talking, and hopefully, any information that could prove useful to him. About half an hour passed by with nothing happening except for the shuffling of feet and furniture. Quite suddenly crash of furniture could be heard and then the clunking of footsteps.
"Ivan, what'd you do now?"
"Nothing. Just dropped the chair. Is that alright?"
"Sure. Hey, I was thinking, you still got the drop time and everything right?" the captain murmured, still a little dazed from his nap.
"Yep. 1030 Saturday. At the Wilson house. Apparently a former general came in and tried to get his gun stash before those things overran his house. And he didn't get it. We heard about it from a scout. You gonna be there?"
"Where else would I be?"
"Good point," Ivan yawned. "Look, I'm going to hit the sack, unless you have any objections."
"Cya in the morning" the captain replied, groggily returning to his seat.
Stepan slowly sat up and pondered what exactly he was going to do. On one hand, Stepan thought, I could stay here and hopefully get some news on those stalkers. But that could take a while, and quite possibly it could never come around. Stepan placed his hand on his left cheek and began rubbing his mouth, reluctantly considering his squalid list of options. Abruptly, the rubbing stopped and he pulled his hand away from his face. Stepan searched his pockets and came out with a smallish, brown leather book and opened it up. Taking out his flashlight, he searched the last few pages and tried to find what he thought would be there.
July 27th, 2008
I told Stepan about the general's place. Hopefully we can make it in time tomorrow. I didn't tell him what was there or where it was, as it seemed unneeded. I'll write more as the night goes on. Frowning, he flipped through to the first few pages of the diary, scanning the torn pages for the information on the general's house.
November 22nd, 2006
Looks like the general went up and left today. This feels kind of weird writing my thoughts into the book, but what the hell. I heard the general went off to his safe house. I talked to the secretary a little more, but nothing came of it. I decided to distract her (told her they had a sale at a supermarket today. Whoops.) and check the office. Inside I found a weird photo - it looked like an unfinished basement, with a beautiful painting on the floor and a good amount of bricks removed from the wall and a medium-sized green box behind the wall. Probably some weird thing at the general's house. Hopefully I can find some more information tomorrow, but I can't think of any way to get that dumb ass secretary out of the way. I hope it doesn't involve her up close, that's all I can say: Curiousity, like many things in his life, led Stepan to turn the page and read just exactly what he did. Stepan winced, made an "o" with his lips, and shoved the book back in his pocket. Way to take one for the team, Viktor. Stepan shut off his flashlight and decided that the best time to move would be right now. A couple of sleeping guards and dark forest provided all the cover Stepan needed to make his way to the house. Carefully he inched his way down the roof, hopped to the soft ground with a thud, then began a slow jog northward, staying in the forest but keeping the road within his sight. Glancing down, his clock read 12:01 a.m. Stepan looked around for a short while and found a tree that had fallen over with a small crevice beneath it. Rolling under the log, he curled up and fell asleep, hoping his luck would last for another evening. Instead of the expected glare of a bright dawn, he found the sky filled with sifting, grayish clouds. He lifted his head and a small "thunk" could be heard as it met the log directly above him. Stepan mumbled a few curses and rubbed the spot of impact. Slowly he rolled out from under the log, raised himself, and began the final bout of his journey.
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From the halls of Montezuma To the shores of Tripoli'
We fight our countrys battles In the air', on land, and sea.
First to fight for right and freedom , And to keep our honor clean,
We are proud to claim the title Of United States Marines.
Our flags unfurl'd to every breeze From dawn to setting sun';
We have fought in every clime and place Where we could take a gun.
In the snow of far-off northern lands And in sunny tropic scenes,
You will find us always on the job - The United States Marines.
Here's health to you and to our Corps Which we are proud to serve;
In many a strife we've fought for life And never lost our nerve.
If the Army and the Navy Ever gaze on Heaven's scenes,
They will find the streets are guarded By United States Marines. - US Marines Hymn