They walked down into the camp, staying in the open. There was a nervous tension in the air. Boris had felt its like before. Whoever was holed up in those buildings was full of fear. It could be smelt as they got closer. “Don’t make any sudden moves. Something has these people downright terrified.”
As they approached the building, they heard the distinctive sound of a machine gun being charged. Boris held up his hand and yelled “Ho. We mean you no harm.” Boris said
There was silence, but no guns fired. “May we seek shelter? We got lost hunting and could use some better shelter than a hole in a hill.”
Still silence. “Ah well, if there is no other option I guess we’ll have to seek shelter in that cave on the hill.”
“No. Come up. Anything but handing the Beast more people.” A gravelly voice, worn with worry yelled back. Boris looked at the others and nodded. They walked up the house the voice came from, and the door opened. As they walked in Boris saw a pistol and several rifles trained on them, in the hands of obviously nervous and twitchy individuals. “Who are you really? It’s coming into full winter. No one hunts this far north in the winter. Just because we won’t feed the Beast, doesn’t mean we won’t kill you.” The gravely voice was clearly male.
Boris took less than a second to make the decision. He moved into his fastest speed, grabbed the pistol from the figure, disarming the person without the pistol firing.
Then, he used the person as a human shield and yelled. “Put down your weapons. You have no cause to aim at us. We, however, have plenty of cause to wipe this entire encampment off the planet.” He tossed the pistol towards his group and pointed at the patch on the captive’s arm patch.
He was surprised to find it was a woman he was holding.
There had been a few women amongst the NVG they’d killed or captured, but not many. And several of those they’d captured had been more like rescues.
Boris voice became more of a growl, “We’ve been looking for the last base of the NVG. They tried to wipe my hometown off the map.”
“What are you talking about?” The voice continued from a figure slowly moving into clear sight out from behind people a little taller than him.
He continued, “The NVG wished to change the policies of the government. End the merry go round of Russia confronting the west and then backing off, then confronting them again. Force the government to accept either War or Peace. No more of this posturing and provocations. The uncertainty is hurting everyone. Them and us. Personally, I was hoping for a permanent peace but was willing to fight if that was the only way to get a permanent solution. War is horrible, yes, but this constant bickering back and forth is as bad or worse. It does nothing to help the people of the country.”
The approaching man was below average height, maybe five nine. He had a black bushy beard, and his face was gaunt. His nerves were also twitchy. He was obviously more nervous now. Boris said “Look, why don’t you lower your weapons, I put this lady down, and we sit and talk like… well, I was going to say civilized people, but we’re all Russians here, so that doesn’t exactly work. Ah. I got it. Sane people.”
The man considered it and, after a couple of moments lowered his rifle. He glared at his followers until they also lowered their weapons.
“I am Zakhar. And you would be?” He asked as Boris lowered the woman, setting her down gently.
“Boris. I wonder, though, what is this beast you mentioned earlier? And what does it have to do with that cave?” he nodded out of the building, “It is not likely anyone will be able to harm you if you tell me, is it?”
“I can’t tell you. Konrad, the leader” the man started, and Boris interrupted.
“Is dead. I cut off his head personally. He was a sociopath trying to take over Russia by causing internal incidents, no matter what he told you.”
There was a murmur through the twenty or so people in the room. Zakhar shouted over it “Gather everyone in the mess. We need to hear this.” Looking Boris straight in the eye he continued “We’ve been trapped here for weeks. All of the soldiers left us when the Beast escaped or died trying to kill or subdue the thing. Left us scientists and techs in the lurch.”
It took ten minutes for the group to grab what they could and finally congregate in the eating area. The fear of the present and now the added uncertainty of their situation causing a few people to take twice as long.
After an hour explaining what had been happening outside the base over the last year or so, Boris noticed that Zakhar and many of the others were fiddling with the patches on their shoulders.
A few weren’t.
Janna, make a note of who is not uncomfortable with those marks. It may be nothing.
Or it may be that they are still loyal to a lost cause. Think saboteurs or suicide bombers. I am on this Boris. It was my job for years. She answered him.
By the time he’d finished Zakhar had gotten a knife out and cut the patch from his shoulder. He watched as it twirled in the air and landed on the floor. He spat on the patch. “Godsbedamned liars. It was to be a slow takeover for Russia’s benefit, not this self-destructive orgy. Russia has gone down that path before. It never ends well.”
Boris gave the man a moment to feel his anger and allow him, all of them, to focus again, “So, tell me about this Beast? How did it get out?”
Zakhar exhaled heavily, “When we started losing men mapping out those damned caves. I was going to take down the ramp we had built. Have an elevator rigged instead so we could continue the work without risking something attacking the camp. I’m still not sure how it got through so many armed men. I wasn’t there. It broke through the soldiers stationed near the cave mouth. But I’ve caught glimpses of it. It’s not a bear. It looks like one superficially, but it is comfortable standing, and has what looks like a thumb -with a really long claw.”
“Not only that, the bite wounds it leaves. No bear could shear a leg off that cleanly.” Zakhar seemed to go inside himself a moment, and ask himself aloud, “Maybe a hyena? But hyenas don’t stand on their rear legs.” He tapped his chin, his focus returned to Boris, “Noise scares them away. Neither is true with the Beast. It is like the legends said, no? That St Michael had trapped the Devil in that cave. I didn’t believe it then, but I sure as hell believe it now. Despite the other evidence.”
This is my Christmas/solstice present to all you fans.
If any of you wish to give me a Christmas present, consider buying one of my other (non-Boris) books. I have several now. You can find them all listed HERE. That way you get another good book and I get the satisfaction of having you read my work!
I hope to have Revelations completely finished in the next day or so. The bulk of it is already with the Editor – Mike should be looking at the finished work and vetting it in the next couple of days.