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16 January 2007 @ 04:12 pm
The Greenhouse [Wednesday, January 29, 1964, 12:30 am]  
[SRIDA, 29 YANVAR, 0030 hours]

[OOC: Warning, description of dead body to follow.]

Ocelot took the lead as they walked from the East Wing toward the smoldering ruin of the greenhouse. The major's spurs jingled restlessly with each long stride, and his mouth was set and sullen, like a child called in from play too soon.

Kassian and Isaev flanked slightly behind, following the blaze of Ocelot's trail over the muddy hill.

Kassian glanced at Isaev. Jacketless, face uncovered by balaclava and without his beret, the lieutenant looked cold, flushed cheeks and curled-in shoulders. The earlier rainstorm had lightened to an intermittent drizzle, which had in turn abated for the moment, but still, it was no weather to be wearing only tel'nik and jodhphurs.

With little ceremony, Kassian unwound his scarf and handed it to Isaev.

A pair of GRU soldiers fidgeted at the edge of the smoking, skeletal remains of the greenhouse, tossing glances over their shoulders at the lumbering form of the cosmonaut, who was already lurking inside. The pair saluted quickly as Ocelot approached. "Sir! It's...she's...just over there." They handed them flashlights and pointed to a lumpy mound that sat next to what looked like the twisted, blackened husk of an overturned barrel.

Ocelot nodded and wound his way past a half-dozen small, guttering fires. They walked in single file now. Thin, melted glass and charred wood crunched under each step of their jackboots. Kassian's eyes burned from the smoke and fertilizer residue.

In the center of the greenhouse, the Fury stood over a blackened, charred lump that lay half-buried in a mound of dirt. At first Kassian thought the body merely lay contorted in some odd position, then he realized that one arm had been severed at the elbow, and both legs above the knee. The other arm was bent back and twisted underneath, the impossible contortion of a broken puppet.

The corpse's skin peeled up like burnt bark, turning the face skull-like, eye sockets blistered and hollow. The heat of the explosion had probably brought them to an instant boil and charred the rest of the body, but only the front. The back must have been buried in the dirt and shielded from worst of the explosion. He could just see the lacy hem of a dress half covered by dirt underneath the body. Somehow, it looked more obscene than anything else.

For long moments, it was quiet.
The Fury: flamesvostok_n2o4 on January 17th, 2007 04:44 am (UTC)
The cosmonaut did not acknowledge the Ocelot squad. There was no reason to look up from the scorched remains; he already knew more than he wanted to know.

It was the pink fabric that captivated him, printed with little yellow flowers, trimmed in lace, soiled with ash and blood. There was something distinctly vulgar about the whole scene. A bad feeling that crept in, wound itself around his throat like an icy hand, and refused to let go.

Phobos politely excused himself into the forest to vomit, and the Fury winced at the nauseating sound of his newest recruit evacuating his stomach contents into the nearby flora.

It was a familiar scene. Black charred skin, melting away from bone, marked only by patches of bloody raw meat that lay beneath. Empty gaping eye sockets, black as ash. The grinning mouth, twisted into a death smile, full of milky white teeth that seemed out of place among the ash. And the stench. The familiar, inescapable stench of burnt human flesh. It did not bother the Fury. He had bought similar ends to countless enemies.

It was the charred hem of the dress and the empty space where arms and legs should have been that made the cosmonaut want to disappear into the woods and join his comrade in heaving his guts up.

But he remained stoic, holding his helmet in his hands in a gesture that called to mind a cultured gentleman removing his hat to pay his final respects. Even if she was one of Krauss’ whores, even if she did deserve purification by fire, she did not deserve the fate that befell her. The explosion was not powerful enough to tear limb from body. The fire did not burn long enough to cremate the missing limbs.

It happened before the fire. She was probably one of the young girls Krauss was so fond of, from the village just over the mountain. No older than sixteen. Something about it bothered the Fury right down the core of his soul, cut deep enough to wound whatever little fragment of compassion that remained after his short and tragic space flight.

The cosmonaut mumbled something incomprehensible to Lieutenant Io, who had been staring blankly ahead the whole time, with his pale blue eyes fixed on the Ocelot squad. Mechanically, the Krasnogorje officer removed his khaki jacket and draped it over what remained of the body.

Finally, the Fury broke the uncomfortable silence. “Son of a bitch. He killed her.” There was a calm, calculated hatred in his voice that made even the flame soldiers back away.
andrei_isaevandrei_isaev on January 18th, 2007 12:53 am (UTC)
Isaev studied the body without speaking for a long moment, willfully dissociating his mind from the carnage of what he was viewing.

Several things raised red flags, and not intuitive ones. Experiential ones.

The Fury, though he spoke in rash outrage, wasn't far wrong with his guess.

Beside him, Kassian observed the corpse with an almost poetic solemnity. Unflappable and stoic, in all things, though Isaev could read his brooding better now- there was a detached and careless sympathy as well. The mark of a man who knew how to separate himself from what happened around him, yet still regret that it did.

Isaev was keenly aware of the scarf around his neck when he looked at Irinarhov, who looked far more somber in black, lacking the crimson accessory. Almost like a weary priest.

The sniper's neck was bare, slightly rough with shadow, his adam's apple curving from his throat like a masculine jetty in a single wave.

It was preferable to look at that. Unfortunately, his eyes were inexorably drawn back to the broken doll.

Cindercoats, he thought. Another fairy tale crushed by the grim and gritty reality of Sovetskayja.

"Lt. Isaev." Major Ocelot was standing off to one side, body angled away, twirling his guns almost pathologically, regarding the charred and contorted corpse with an oblique look of repulsed disdain.

"Major," he acknowledged, dutiful but apprehensive.

"...Your take."

Andrei kept his eyes on the body.

"She was dead before the fire," he said, flatly. "And probably before the explosion."

From where he stood, that was all he could say with any certainty. Any more would be speculation.

The Major didn't ask how he knew, and Isaev hadn't expected him to, though he could have told him in detail.

When he looked up, Ocelot's eyes were fixed on him with a solar intensity.

"Andrei," he said, pointedly. No more than that.

Isaev nodded reluctantly.

"Yes, Major," he said.

While Ocelot had extended him the pithy diplomacy of demanding his assessment without mentioning how Isaev came by his considerable unsavory expertise, he wouldn't allow him to feign ignorance of forensics. Though he'd never used it against him, the Major knew his dossier all too well.

Most of it could be easily explained through his tradecraft. Bare handed assassins learned a lot about coverage, staging, telltale signs of killing methods. They learned about rigor and tensile strength. And he'd certainly taken a good deal of forensics in his tracking instruction.

He knelt down beside the covered and smoking remains, then realized he was barehanded.

"Captain," he said quietly, without meeting the sniper's eyes. "Can I have your gloves?"

Irinarhov obliged without hesitation, and Isaev could see him in his peripheral vision, the action automatic and unquestioning, as he stripped them off and laid them carefully across Andrei's palm.

"Spashiba Kasya," he murmured, letting his brows lower over his eyes as he pulled them on.

They were slightly snug, but well worn enough to span his larger hands.

He nodded perfunctorily to Lieutenant Io, picking up the edge of his field jacket and lifting it from the corpse.

The shape barely resembled a human as much as a deformed and blackened starfish. A dead spider, on its back.

He leaned over, gingerly scanning for any signs of trauma or residual tissue.

andrei_isaevandrei_isaev on January 18th, 2007 12:54 am (UTC)
The chest had gotten the worst of it. The core was burnt and smoked out like the hull of a shipwreck. Breasts, obviously, being soft fatty tissue, were gone. The face was wizened, almost skeletonized, and only blackened muscle remained. The dermal layer was completely gone.

The remnants of soft blond hair were visible on the scalp, if sooty and scorched, and, Andrei noticed, lifting a wisp of hair, the edges of where the normal dermal layer resumed, though ashen, were visible around the line of the brow. He could make out a definite edge. A cut edge.

"Death occurred before the explosion. Some time before," he said, automatically.

A sense of intellectual nausea threatened to rise in his throat.

Ocelot cringed, as if repulsed.

"How can you tell?" he demanded.

"It looks like the facial skin burned down to the striated muscles," Isaev said, wryly. "But you can see here that...the face was removed, probably to make identification harder."

Or for the sick fucking pleasure of it.

Isaev pushed all thoughts from his mind as he looked more closely at the ends of the severed trunk. It proved successful; it was hard to think of anything else but dead meat, with the sweet, cloying stench of burned flesh infusing his nostrils.

The muscle was curled over and seared back so that the charred bone protruded. A truncated femur, ball still in joint. Blackened, but not obscuring the obvious marks of a cleanly sawed amputation.

Isaev remembered Lasha snorting that nothing gave away an amateur like clumsy dismemberment.

Very little adipose around the hip socket area. A very athletic woman.

"And the limbs?" muttered Ocelot, scowling.

"Yes. Before the detonation. Even if I there weren't evidence of..." he frowned. "Tool use, in the bone matter...the fire couldn't have burned hot enough to reduce green bone to ash."

Something else Lasha told him. Green bone. Hard to cut, harder to burn. Remember that, Andreyka.

"Can you tell how she died, comrade?" asked Kassian, just above him, and he felt a subtle hand on his shoulder.

"No," he said, pulled from his unsettling reverie. "Not yet. If at all. There's only so much one can tell from a field external."

Andrei could see little more of use on the anterior side. The damage was too extensive.

Now to turn the body, to get a look at the unblemished side that had been sheltered from the blast and the scorching flames.

Grimacing out of habit, he grasped the arm that still existed, using the leverage of the appendage to flip the corpse, charred-face-down on the stained concrete of the greenhouse floor.

The torso rolled over with sickening ease without the awkwardness of legs, and no arm at the other shoulder to resist the motion.

However, Isaev noted absently as he did, that it was heavier than he expected. Almost too dense in composition for an average woman's trunk. Especially a child whore, as he and everyone else had likely surmised at first glance.

Remarkably, the skin of the posterior body had escaped the wrath of the flames.

His eyes blinked, as his fingers traced the intact skin. Muscles, biforcated and taut with rigor The shape of shoulders visible now, the trapezius contracted in death.

There were obvious petichiae on the skin of the neck, suggesting strangulation, but he ignored that for the moment in favor of a more startling revelation.

"This...this is a man," he said, stricken.

"What?" said Ocelot, incredulous.

"No way is this a woman."

"Are you fucking my brain, Isaev?"

"Have Khostov do a chromosomal if you don't believe me."

Ocelot smirked coolly.

"A man in a silk floral dress."

"Sounds like Groznyj Grad to me," said someone else, dryly, in a low voice.

Andrei shook his head.

"No," he said, deliberately taking hold of the flimsy material that remained and holding up the part that heat hadn't fused to the flesh of the body.

It was lace-edged and delicate. The cut was high on the thighs, or should have been, had it not been pulled aside from the buttocks and scorched away from the leg, which he showed them as he drew it back into place.

"It's a fucking teddy."

elyseexpatriateelyseexpatriate on January 18th, 2007 09:31 am (UTC)
There is a story.

Old as death and sublimated desire.

A girl playing near deep water, throwing and catching what is to her the most precious thing in all the world.

Drops it.

And the object is ransomed by the picturesque, amusing monster, gold from the foreclaw of the miniature solicitous amphibious behemoth, for the price of love.

And, once returned, forgotten.

Was death regarded in the same way?

A toy, lusted over for self-contained infinite moments. Obsession, incarnate in incarnadine.

Dismantled and discarded.

A man's death was a small thing, tawdry perhaps in its trappings or effects, but it was meant to be his own.

The word "sacred" would at most times make The Sorrow smile, sadly.

There were those who scrabbled to make death a plaything, rob it of mystery and majesty by reducing it to the palpable, cluched at it in hands raised against other mortals in base, squalid petulance at the emptiness or terrors or half-chained beasts snapping furtively in their cavernous, noisome hearts.

Nerves existing in a suspended state of 'gone' felt blood trickle down his cheek.

The Sorrow stood side by side among soldiers, and looked down at the broken place where a spirit had been.

There are many mansions.

So sad.
The Fury: sidevostok_n2o4 on January 18th, 2007 06:26 pm (UTC)
“So it’s not a whore.” Io mumbled, unaffected. “Does this mean I can have my coat back? It’s fucking freezing.”

The Fury glared at him, as if to emphasize that the Lieutenant’s outburst was morbidly inappropriate. “You complain about being cold. I have the perfect remedy for that. Set a man on fire, and he’ll be warm for the rest of his life.”

Io had a point though, however tactlessly he had made it. If it wasn’t a defenseless young girl, hacked to death under a terrible ax, then it was difficult to care. The death of a woman was always tragic, the death of a man, a fellow soldier, was routine.

The lace teddy, however, was far from the ordinary. A soldier with such interests almost deserved such a fate, and the Fury nodded, agreeing with himself. There was a world of difference between small and quiet comforts late at night in silent, dark barracks, and the depravity splayed at his feet.

“I don’t understand.” Deimos spoke finally, more to himself than anyone else. “It… he…wasn’t here when we were setting the explosives.”

“It was.” The Fury answered, certain. “It was here all along.”

“Something like this… why go to all this trouble if you’re not going to leave it where people can see it?”

The cosmonaut glanced briefly at Deimos in the dim light, dark hair disheveled and ashes streaked across his dark face. Romanian, he thought for a moment. Definitely Romanian. “That was the exact reason you were finally apprehended for murdering those eight women in Moscow. Whoever did this wanted to make sure no one ever knew. It was their own dirty secret.”

The Fury paced, considering it all, unbothered by the ashes his heavy footsteps stirred up, or the embers that settled on his suit.

Io retrieved his jacket as soon as his commander looked away, not even bothered to dust off the human ashes before zipping it up.

The cosmonaut replaced his helmet, securing it snugly, as more of a symbolic gesture than anything. “This was not committed in anger. It was purely for the thrill of destroying something completely. The sexual thrill.” The burned out husk of a metal barrel caught his attention, and he considered it for a moment. The only place his men had not checked: the fertilizer tanks. There was no need to check them, no one would be particularly apt to hide there, and the noxious chemicals would only add fuel to the fire.

“It was a private affair between this poor bastard and Johann Krauss.” He continued, picking something up out of the twisted metal. A human arm, mostly intact, with a bit of charring around the stiff fingers. “No one was ever supposed to know.”

“Krauss?” Deimos questioned. “He doesn’t have the stomach for this sort of thing. But that patrol soldier was quite determined to keep us from taking the greenhouse. Determined like a man with something to hide.”

There was a peculiar coldness that crept in, even despite his space suit, and the Fury shivered. It was only befitting, he thought. “The Sorrow? Are you there? Have you come to escort this poor soldier to the other side? Perhaps you can ask him what happened, how he died?” He was, of course, talking to thin air again.

The Krasnogorje patrol were unaffected. It was normal to find their commander talking to voices in his head about the speed of light and blowing up the moon.
Kassian Irinarhovcapt_kasya on January 18th, 2007 11:12 pm (UTC)
Kassian turned to Ocelot and Isaev. "We should find out if anyone is unaccounted for," he said, glancing toward the ridge. More people were coming, lean figures silhouetted by the lights from the East Wing. They were probably drawn by both the explosion and word of the discovery, Kassian thought. Soon, the scene would get even more chaotic.

For some reason he thought of Borisnakov, wondering if this was the result of some drunken Ocelot's revenge for being a coward and bringing shame to the unit. He hadn't seen the new recruit since they'd brought in the crocodile earlier that day, after all.

But the more Kassian thought about it, and remembered the details of what Isaev had noticed in his examination, the more he thought that couldn't be it.

Sure, people killed in the heat of the moment, or planned cold blooded murder for revenge. But to care so much once the victim was dead, no, that was something else.

The Fury was right, he mused, though he found it interesting that the man had understood the nature of the crime on an instinctual level.

But there was still something off, though, something that didn't seem to fit. His mind poked at the theories warily, like a mongrel sniffing a stranger's hand.

"No," he said, finally.

He did not elaborate at first, and drew stares, but he only stared down at the corpse in silent concentration, bare hands jammed into the pockets of his jackets.

His gaze lingered in the lacy edge of the teddy. The formerly white edge was dusted charcoal, singed in the explosion and fire, but stained by nothing else.

"No. The killer wanted this to be found," Kassian said.

Something still nagged at the periphery of his mind.

There was a reason why the front of the body was scorched, but the back was not. Something about the way it must have been positioned, and what the explosion had done to it.

Something about the trajectory to where the body had landed.

After a few seconds, he shook his head, frustrated.

It was like a blocked shot, Kassian thought. He just couldn't see past what was right in front of him.

He regarded the body again.

A female body would have been easier to explain, actually. A woman could have been smuggled on base and hidden in someone's back room, and even if someone noticed her, as eventually they would, the reason for her presence would be understood.

It would be far less likely that someone would smuggle a young man on base for that purpose, though Kassian supposed it could happen.

Far more likely, though, this was a soldier, or perhaps even a technician.

Even if the body hadn't been found, the disappearance would have eventually been noticed, and a search would have been conducted. The dogs would have found it, even if no one had noticed the smell.

But this body had been prepared as carefully as a Pharaoh's, an offering to the gods.

The killer had taken his time.

Kassian frowned and finally looked back to Isaev. "Can you look in the mouth, comrade?"
The Fury: portraitvostok_n2o4 on January 19th, 2007 06:43 am (UTC)
“I find it amusing that we have reached a sudden disagreement, comrade.” The Fury watched Kassian for a long moment, scowling behind his respirator. Something about the sniper bothered him for reasons he could not pinpoint.

He dropped the severed arm and leaned in dangerously close, even knowing that Kassian would not back down. There was something immensely wise about the man’s dark eyes, it spoke volumes about the horrors he had seen. “I seriously question those black marks on your record that Adamska mentioned earlier. Is it that you have first hand experience with dismemberment and blatant sexual depravity? Is that your true specialty, sniper?”

He turned suddenly, striking Irinarhov sharply with one of his thrusters, hard enough to send the sniper staggering back a few steps with a clear message; an unmistakable warning, like the snarl of a vicious dog.

The Fury wished more than anything that Kassian or one of his comrades would retaliate, as his patience for the Ocelot squad was growing rather thin. He did not need a reason, nor did he have one: they created enough reasons themselves, as a byproduct of their very existence.

His patience for the entire world was growing very thin, especially the depraved bastard laying spread eagled among the ashes like some pseudosexual overcooked Christmas goose, tied up in ribbons and bows.

It promised to be a very long night, and the moon had yet to rise.

Adamskamajor_ocelot_2u on January 19th, 2007 12:15 pm (UTC)
Ocelot watched Irinarhov regain his ground, unflinching, stepping forward without hesitation.

A scowl gripped the Major's features. He was deeply unimpressed with the Fury's passive-aggressive strike. That would have to be addressed, remedied to everyone's satisfaction.

"If you're not interested in being part of the solution, maybe you should run along," he said, sneering. "And let us clean up the mess."

He kept his glacial blue gaze leveled at the Fury.

But it was Isaev who drew his immediate attention.

The lieutenant's back went stiff and stark beneath his striped telnyashka, broad shoulders peaking taut.

Ocelot caught a glimpse of Isaev's eyes as he raised his head. Narrowed, intense.

It was an expression Ocelot didn't like to see on him unless he was executing a deliberate mission.

"Touch Kasya again, and you won't live to regret it," Isaev said, in a low, even tone.

"Save it for wetwork, Isaev," Ocelot snapped, coolly, stepping forward. His eyes avoided the corpse.

Isaev's eyes were fixed on the Fury, or rather, on the faceless visage of smoked glass.

"I jack off on your mother's cross, cosmonaut."

A soft slap of solid flesh, as Ocelot pistol-checked him lightly, lingeringly, across the jaw.

"I said," Ocelot said quietly, frowning. "Leave it, Lieutenant."

Isaev's head snapped responsively to the side, hair wrapping over his eyes. It was more instinct to avoid the impact than the actual force of the blow.

When he righted himself a second later, he was breathing evenly, face a mask of neutral chagrin.

"Pardon me, Major," he said, calmly.

The bisque of his cheek had gone briefly white and red from the slap of the barrel, fading now back into nothing.

Ocelot felt a momentary pang of distaste. He didn't like sending messages like that to his own men, but occasionally it was the only recourse. Like willful animals, soldiers like his needed to be kept in line.

Lt. Isaev's specialty, while inarguably useful, required that he not be allowed to escalate physically in any loaded altercation.

Fortunately, his general nature made these kinds of occasions an anomaly, but Ocelot was determined to nip them in the bud when they reared their little non-sequitur hydra heads.

Ocelot turned toward the Fury, frowing, crossing his arms.

"The Lieutenant's anger is justified, although he speaks out of turn." He paused, tilting his head. "Keep your distance from my sniper, and all of my men. Or we'll have ourselves a real problem. Volgin will be here soon, however. Perhaps you'd like to deal with him."

He paused, smirking.


He turned back to Isaev, no residual anger in his tone.

"The mouth," he said, indicating it with his gun. "Look inside."

Andrei obliged, fingers working open the faceless maw, carefully avoiding the eyes of the assembled.

"What were you thinking to find, Captain?"

His tone was modulated, measured and set. Almost pleasant once more.
Kassian Irinarhovcapt_kasya on January 19th, 2007 10:35 pm (UTC)
"I don't know," Kassian said, after a pause.

His breathing was even and steady, as it always in tense situations, but his gaze shifted slowly from one man to another, watching the standoff's aftermath.

The Fury, he regarded with a quiet, imperturbable gaze. He did not know why the man had chosen to take such offense when he'd merely offered a differing opinion, but then again, why often became irrelevant when dealing with madmen. They needed no reasons to do what they did; the cosmonaut's response to Kassian's earlier question on the roof had easily demonstrated that.

Kassian had taken no offense at the cosmonaut's words, nor at being shoved.

The Fury's anger seemed so indiscriminate it hardly felt personal, and in turn, Kassian was indifferent.

Major Ocelot, he regarded briefly, and with no ire, in spite of the fact his eyes had sparked and he'd bristled when the major had struck Lieutenant Isaev. It was Kassian's instinctual, gut reaction to want to lash out at someone who hurt Isaev, but after a few moments, he'd checked the impulse. It was within Ocelot's right to reprimand his subordinates, and the reprimand had not been severe. Even Isaev had acknowledged it, Kassian could tell. The anger that crouched ferally under Isaev's smooth facade was not directed at Ocelot, after all.

It was Isaev he watched the longest.

Once more, the seething depths of the lieutenant's anger made his pulse quicken.

Isaev's uncivilized side, Kassian called it.

Kassian was not a man who romanticized things overly, and was not sentimental.

But there was just something about hearing Isaev promise to kill someone for insulting him that sent an illicit thrill through him.

He watched Isaev, gaze piercing and intense, but the lieutenant's head was bowed over the corpse, not looking at him, or anyone else, for that matter.

But Kassian could still hear the particular note of sublimated violence in Isaev's voice.

"I just had a thought," he said, slowly, voice low and pitched for just Isaev and Ocelot.

No sense in offending the Fury any further, after all.

"The body seems so carefully prepared. It wasn't a mistake that one arm was left and the other was taken along with the legs. That the face was removed. It look a lot of work to do this."

He stepped a little closer, craning his head to get a glimpse into the mouth.

"Something about it...reminded me of ancient funerary traditions. There were different ones for different cultures, but sometimes when the body was prepared, something was put in the mouth. Sometimes it was for the spirit's use in the afterlife. A coin for the boatman. A tube for breathing. A wafer to eat."

Kassian shrugged. He knew the admission was tantamount to admitting that he read contraband material, but he didn't think either Isaev or Ocelot would care.

"But sometimes, what was left was more of a message. Something to remind the spirit of what he'd done...or why he'd been killed."
The Furyvostok_n2o4 on January 20th, 2007 07:39 pm (UTC)
Isaev’s threat only made the cosmonaut laugh. The boy perused his anger with lethal conviction, but it was nothing more than a game to the Fury. A game that he never grew tired of, lacking rules or the constraints of sanity. “Andrusha,” he taunted, “You make such horrible threats, and I thought we were beyond all of that. Do your worst if you must, and I will do the same.”

A few of the flame soldiers snickered, knowing that there would be no hope for the Ocelot lieutenant if their commander was truly intent on destroying him. Still, they remained aloof and at ease; the tone was still taunting, not deadly serious. Not yet.

“You,” he gestured toward Kassian, “have much better control over your temper than your young comrade. How unfortunate. I commend you.”

Isaev showed potential though, and he made a mental note of that. Pausing to gather his thoughts, he shut his eyes and pondered what to do next. Midnight role call, all units and patrols, as soon as the news reached Volgin. It was the only logical step to deduce who was missing in some vain attempt to identify the body.

And there was Krauss to deal with. The cowardly son of a bitch was probably lurking somewhere in the crowd. Let hum lurk, then. The Fury could not will himself to care about the dead body, not knowing that it was some soldier who simply happened to keep the wrong sort of company.

If Krauss killed him in some sick fetish game, all the better. It was becoming clearer and clearer that whoever he had been, he deserved it, at least in the cosmonaut’s twisted mind.

And in the next breath, Andrei Isaev insulted his mother, and the Fury opened his eyes.

His mother’s cross…

He realized then and there, standing among the ashes of the burned out greenhouse, that he could not recall what his mother looked like, no matter how hard he tried. Memories were vague and fleeting at best; birthdays and early mornings, bright and golden with sunlight and potential. All of his memories reached the same result: the fire, how it glowed white hot. He distinctly remembered watching the fire lick its way along the blue wallpaper in his bedroom as a child, the smell of burning wood and the heat, and he had shut his eyes so tightly and hid under the blankets, hoping to be spared. Begging with it. Pleading with it.

And when he opened them again, the doctors at the hospital spoke of how lucky he was to be alive, and in the next moment, that the house fire had killed his sisters, his father, and his mother, and he was an orphan, all alone in the world. Their lab coats rose up and up, until they became ghosts, hovering in the sterile room. Watching him with their terrible black eyes.

But he could not remember what his mother looked like. Whenever he tried to call the image to mind, it was always blurry and distorted, as though looking at an old photograph through a pitcher of water. Gradually, the picture recreated itself over the years in his mind, until the memory of his mother looked exactly like Voyevoda.

The Fury was dimly aware that he had drawn his flamethrower and had Isaev and Kassian well within striking distance as they examined the cadaver. Gradually, he realized that the Krasnogorje patrol had fallen into formation behind him, ready to kill the entire Ocelot squad on his orders.

The Major was talking, but he couldn’t make out the words through the feedback of static from mission control.
andrei_isaevandrei_isaev on January 21st, 2007 02:22 am (UTC)
Andrei focused on the battered body before him, noticing the way the throat seemed bulged and misshapen. The adam's apple looked almost distended, the larynx moved too easily, and was crushed, his fingers found, palpating it lightly.

He'd felt that same collapsed mechanism between his fingers many times.

As a mercenary, he never killed in anger. It wasn't an act of hatred, nor sharp and vicious violence, but one of quiet, deliberate brutality, in measured amounts, applied with the utmost care and tenderness.

Anger was a different matter. Anger was the polar opposite of mercenary cold.

By now, Isaev had leveled his breath and his mood once more. It was not difficult for him- in fact, it was the natural progession of his wicked temper.

Strange, he knew his comrades thought, for one so insouciant and carelessly winsome as Andrei Isaev to have such volatile chips of flint embedded in his psyche. And truth be told, they were few and far between, almost negligent.

But the cosmonaut had unwittingly struck one, swinging his indiscriminate hammer of Id. A trigger to ignite a tinder empire.

Andrei knew the nature of his rage intimately, but only in hindsight. It was transient, but hot blue in its intensity. It burned molten and without conscience for a brief and searing moment, and then, as suddenly, dissipated into ether like a flock of birds, more often than not leaving him wry and contrite, and others with hollowed expressions of wordless and unsettled astonishment.

Unfortunately, while the resolution was swift and complete, the cold rage was equally complete, and with nothing to temper him, he often acted on visceral impulse alone, with no mind for the carnage in that instant.

Andrei's lip curved into a contemptuous smile, at his own expense.

He did not want to engage Irinarhov's gaze until he had found a way to dismiss his lashing out. It was altogether too unstudied and raw to be rational. The man's dark eyes were seeking him, and he knew it, but he couldn't let them penetrate his own. He couldn't risk that the Captain would learn something even he didn't know.

The corpse, that was safer. No piercing eyes or amateur psychological assessments from Mister Teddy Torso.

Isaev pressed his lips together, concentrating on breaking the rigor of the mandibular tendons.

He forced the jaw apart with probing fingers, revealing the end of something fleshy, jammed down deep, into the throat.

Lo and behold, Irinarhov was right.

"There is something in here," affirmed Isaev, curiously. "Something...organic."

That did not bode well, he thought grimly, his mind absently recalling hints and moments, the many 'message-sendings' he'd casually observed in his Kipling-styled adolescence.

Andrei worked to free the object from the corpse's mouth. It was lodged tight, and had no apparent wish to give up the cozening stricture of the neck cavity.

andrei_isaevandrei_isaev on January 21st, 2007 02:23 am (UTC)
"Come on, you bastard-bitch," he coaxed.

If he could just wedge it open, a slight bit more...

A little more carefully applied brutality, and he felt the maxilla break. Brittle from the heat. No harm done.

He shrugged. At least it was pliable now.

At last he was able to prize the object free. He slid it carefully out, with grim amusement.

"Khuy," he murmured, ironically. "Well, this is going to be ugly."

"They cut off his tongue?" demanded Ocelot, narrowing his eyes, lips pushed into a moue of vague distaste.

"That's what I thought," intoned Andrei, slowly, "at first."

Cut out the tongue, and shove it down the traitor's throat. Gag him, watch him choke on his own treachery. A vicious and common enough mutilation among SMERSH and spy types alike. It would not be unlikely.

"...But this," Isaev smiled bloodlessly, "...while you might find it in a man's mouth, it's rarely his own."

Ocelot's eyebrows vaulted sharply, and his face bloomed into an almost comically exaggerated expression of outrage, like a persian cat who'd unwittingly wandered under a downspout.

"...Do not tell me this, Lieutenant."

Andrei shook his head, dryly.

"Sorry, Major. But that's what we've got."

He sighed and turned his palm up.

"What is that?" asked someone, behind them, sounding fascinated and horrified all at once.

"V pizdu," drawled Isaev. "It's the poor bastard's fucking cock."

Not just his cock, actually, but his entire genitalia.

Lucky that he'd prepared himself for the possibility of what he found.

In the uncomfortable silence that followed, Andrei set the unhappy surprise carefully aside, and reached back into the mouth.

"More goodies?" muttered Ocelot, rolling his eyes.

"Just one."

Yes, it was accompanied by something else, that the killer had obviously used the flaccid member to ram even further back into the cavity.

"Is that...a rose?" asked Kassian, very quietly, behind him.

Andrei snorted.

"Long stemmed and everything. Romantic, isn't it."

His fingers grasped the head of the flower. It had been inserted stem first, and the barbed thorns caught and tore along the esophageal wall as Andrei sought to draw it free.

He flinched instinctively, even though he knew this particular comrade was feeling no more pain, wherever he'd gone.

A yellow rose.

Significant, but only to Russians. Whereas red roses represented love, and pink friendship and family, yellow carried an entirely different connotation, known to all.


Yellow roses were never given as gifts to loved ones, and never in even numbers, which made Isaev wonder if there was another rose concealed somewhere on the corpse, to complete the perverse postmortem insult.

Let Khostov find it, if there is, he thought, sardonically. I've had about enough of this treasure hunt.

Isaev's eyes were distantly grim, as were the eyes of every man there.

Holding the abused flower out for the collective's inspection, Andrei was utterly oblivious to the cosmonaut's bizarrely offensive tangent, materializing just beyond the dead meat in front of him.
elyseexpatriate: I seeee youelyseexpatriate on January 21st, 2007 06:10 am (UTC)
The awareness of death hung in the air like opium smoke, sharpening and distending The Sorrow's senses. Hard, hard, not to be mist on that river, to breathe past the emotion, cloying and intoxicating, to the memory of man. Their voices murmured, impatient and meaningful as rain.

I'll play the orator as well as Nestor

His comrade was his guidepost, the constant rage that glimmered, even banked, like a steady electric light for the wanderer in the mist.

I'll slay more gazers than the basilisk

How easy to be swept away by them, these currents that tangled like snakes in ecstasy; horror and revulsion, detachement and distaste, human pity and soldier's calm. Feeding off of each other, deflecting or decreasing, rippling beyond even the nominal owner's awareness...

I'll drown more sailors than the mermaid shall

Where did emotion end, and man begin?

What was a man?

These patterns that shifted like hieroglyphics written on water... Who could guess to their meaning?

Who could mark the divide between action, victim, and its perpetrator?

And frame my face to all occasions

The truth, in great enough quantities, could hide as well as any mask.

There was none who did not seek to hide his true emotion.

Their souls mingled in flood, swift-running waters dark and deep.

And wet my cheeks with artificial tears

The murderer could be standing at The Sorrow's left hand, and there would be no way to mark the difference.

And cry 'Content!' to that which grieves my heart

He reached out, the motion practiced as dreaming, and met only white miasma.

"Forgive me, friend," The Sorrow murmured in The Fury's ear, sound that no helmet could dampen, "The spirit has left this place."

The Sorrow felt and saw the damaged men and mutilated corpse that filled the atmosphere with dense, sallow perfume.

"Can you blame him?"

Why, I can smile, and murder whiles I smile.

Kassian Irinarhovcapt_kasya on January 21st, 2007 10:40 pm (UTC)
Kassian shook his head.

For a few moments, he had no words. There was little one could say, in the face of such shocking depravity. He almost wished he hadn't been right, that his sudden intuition had proven fruitless.

His shoulders curled, as if to shrug off the horror.

Kassian wasn't even sure if he had seen anything in the war that was worse than this. He couldn't remember anymore.

"You've done your duty, comrade," Kassian said in a low voice, meant only for Isaev, though he said it loud enough for Ocelot to hear as well.

He spared a glance at the major, in request.

There was only so much one man should have to do when it came to such things.

His eyes flicked back purposefully toward Isaev. "Leave the rest for the doctor. He should be able to tell more."

He, too, was oblivious to the murderous intent of the cosmonaut and his men, only registering the Krasnogorje patrol shuffling in place nearby. Perhaps to get a better look, but Kassian didn't know why any man would want to see more.

His eyes were on Isaev, the tight line of his jaw and avoidant gaze.

After a moment, another motion did catch his attention, though, and caused him to look up. The unmistakable silhouette of an impressively tall and muscular man approached the guards at the edge of the greenhouse, with another, slimmer figure at his side.

"Colonel Volgin," Kassian said, still low, but loud enough for everyone's benefit, now.
Colonel Yevgeny Borisovitch Volginheartofthunder on January 21st, 2007 11:16 pm (UTC)
Colonel Yevgeny Volgin was in a bad mood.

The day had started well enough: still jubilant with the knowledge that his plans were so close to fruition, the culmination of over twenty years of non-stop hard work - Volgin did not take vacations, did not allow himself days off - he'd risen after a few hours of sleep, and had thrown himself into his work with renewed vigor.

But then there had been the interruptions. People who needed him to sign this or that, needed him to tell them what to do, people who wanted to ask his opinion, or to tell him about something that had gone wrong.

Most of it was to be expected when one ran a base the size of Groznyj Grad. After all, it was a large base with a lot of personnel. Various issues were bound to come up during the day.

And there was also the additional complication that his particular plans involved the hostile takeover of the world.

But still.

One would think he would eventually get a break.

And to be honest, he had - about fifteen minutes ago, to be exact. He had finally found himself alone, and with no one pestering him. A messenger had delivered a note, written in Ivan's neat hand:

I'm in my office for the next few hours.

It had been all the impetus Volgin had needed.

They'd barely gotten their coats off when a frantic knocking had come at Ivan's door, and one of Ivan's men called out that a body had been found, and it was an emergency, and he couldn't find Colonel Volgin, and Major Raikov needed to come quickly.

The bolt of electricty that Volgin had aimed squarely at the door had only deterred the knocking for a few moments; afterward, it was as loud and frantic as before, if a bit spastically-timed.

Personally, Volgin thought that if this dead person was already dead, it was no longer an emergency. There were other, more urgent needs to fulfill.

But Ivan had ventured that perhaps the matter was an emergency, if his man was so persistent. Volgin had reluctantly agreed.

And so they'd found themselves at the smoldering ruin of Krauss' greenhouse, of all things. Volgin thought that Ocelot had warned him earlier that something was going to happen at the greenhouse tonight, some unfortunate accident-that-was-not, courtesy of the Fury. He scowled. If the Fury had caused the accidental death of some hapless soldier in his revenge, then Volgin would have a few things to take up with the cosmonaut.

But then again, it might have been Krauss who died.

The corners of his lips lifted at the thought.

The soldiers who guarded the perimeter of the greenhouse waved Volgin and Ivan through, gesturing to where Ocelot and his men and the Fury and his patrol clustered near the center of the greenhouse. Volgin missed the brief smirks that the guards cast in their direction.

In his haste, he'd misbuttoned his greatcoat.

Ivan's hair was mussed, and moreso than usual.

Volgin noticed neither, of course.

"All right, what's going on? This had better be worth the interruption," he said in a voice laden with menace as he strode up to the group.

He scowled at Ocelot as if it was all his doing. "Well?"
(no subject) - major_ocelot_2u on January 22nd, 2007 05:28 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - vostok_n2o4 on January 22nd, 2007 06:44 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - heartofthunder on January 22nd, 2007 10:49 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - major_ocelot_2u on January 23rd, 2007 03:00 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - heartofthunder on January 24th, 2007 12:00 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - major_ocelot_2u on January 24th, 2007 12:43 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - heartofthunder on January 24th, 2007 01:49 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - vostok_n2o4 on January 24th, 2007 03:34 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - raidenovitch on January 24th, 2007 08:20 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - major_ocelot_2u on January 24th, 2007 11:04 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - elyseexpatriate on January 25th, 2007 12:49 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - heartofthunder on January 25th, 2007 01:46 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - major_ocelot_2u on January 25th, 2007 04:58 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - vostok_n2o4 on January 25th, 2007 08:20 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - vostok_n2o4 on January 25th, 2007 08:21 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - heartofthunder on January 26th, 2007 05:39 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - major_ocelot_2u on January 26th, 2007 06:44 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - vostok_n2o4 on January 26th, 2007 09:21 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - capt_kasya on January 27th, 2007 06:28 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - andrei_isaev on February 8th, 2007 09:16 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - capt_kasya on February 8th, 2007 05:18 pm (UTC) (Expand)