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Metro: Beyond

The Last Patriarch


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Father Andrey Popovich Kopeykin is in the presence of the Lord. 

He has not had a revelation in many years. Whatever goes on outside his quarters is like another planet to him as he surveys the steps to the Metro exit at Sretensky Bulvar.

"Come, Andrey, come and see." said the Lord. 

"But Lord," Andrey said, his voice strong as it was in his youth, yet full of doubt. "Your flock needs me."

"Come, Andrey, come and see." said the Lord. 

"But Lord," Andrey said, his fears growing as he thought of Leonid, of Sasha, of Tanya, of Kiril and Shuhrat, and the elders and the little children. "what of your children?"

"I tell you, come, Andrey, come and see." said the Lord, and Andrey began to climb the steps. His feet carried the strength they once had as a minister to the needy, his lungs filled with fresh air instead of the dank, stale air of the Metro, his heart beating mightily once more as one step at a time, he ascended towards an ever-approaching light. The weariness of eighty-four years left his aching bones, and the wear of years beneath the surface, without seeing the sun, faded, as the Last Patriarch mantled the stairs and stood, now, at the exit of the Metro, light pouring down from the rafters and the stairs leading to the Promised Land. The surface. 

"But Lord!" Andrey cried, filled with awe and terror all at once, falling to his knees and turning his eyes to the risen light "your servant is not worthy! Surely there is more I could have done in your Name?"

"When Man has forsaken me, Andrey, you have persevered. You have delivered My Word, My Heart, to the people, and have served Me faithfully. Come, and see the Promised Land." 

At last. 

At long last.

Andrey wept, tears streaming from his eyes as he rose to his feet, praises in the tongues of angels flowing from his lips as he ascended the last flight of stairs, letting his Lord guide his feet as he closed his eyes and bathed in the glory of His creation. He knew he was not fated to reach the surface again, he'd always known that, but God, Merciful God, had seen fit to bless him with this. A taste of what was to come for his followers, for God's followers. 

"Open your eyes, and see."

Andrey opened his eyes. The land had healed. The city of Moscow, still a ruin, was surrounded by lush greenery, by fruits and vegetables, and homes made of the rubble and nature's bounty, and men and women walked through what once were the streets of Moscow, arm in arm, basking in the light of the Lord's creation. 

A world without bombs, without war, without the horrors of the Metro. 

"Well done," said the Lord, "my good and faithful servant." 

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Andrey's eyes open, and he is reminded of why he has been called. 

Gunfire erupts through the Cathedral of the Most Merciful Lord. 

The Reich have come. Leonid is leading the evacuation, but a brave few souls have volunteered to stay behind, to ensure the rest of the flock escapes. Martyrs, saints, like the Apostles of yore. Andrey is unworthy to call them his congregation, when he has learned so much from them, young and old alike.

The Lord has called him home, and soon, it will be time for Andrey to rest. 

But not yet.

He is too old to run. He will only slow down his flock as they head for Polis, to join the overcrowded station and, hopefully, provide the last push needed for the people of the Metro to rise above Reich and Reds and return to the Promised Land, as the Lord has always intended. 

That does not mean he will idly lay back and allow the Lord to take him. He has been called, and must answer. The Lord's plan requires one last sacrifice of the Last Patriarch of Moscow, perhaps even all of Russia. 

"Oh, death," Andrey mutters as he looks down upon the Duplet in his hands, a cross tied to its stock and the word of the lord etched into its every inch, "where is thy sting? Oh, grave, where is thy victory?"

The barrels are opened, and the father shakily loads two shells into the breeches. He has three more pairs strapped to the stock. It will be enough. 

"The sting of death is sin," he says, as he swings the weapon shut and measures it in his hands, "and the strength of sin is the law." 

"But thanks be to God," he continues, his voice rising as he leaves his chambers, "who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Father, forgive these sinners, for they know not what they do. Amen." 

He walks with conviction belied by his age, his steps steadied by a force more powerful than his own will. Blood and bullet holes mar the once holy Cathedral, a testament to sin and its wages. The lifeblood of saint and sinner alike slicks the floor beneath his feet, yet his feet do not fail him, for his steps are guided by a higher power. 

As he approaches the entrance to the auditorium that has acted as his congregation's sanctuary since the beginning, Kiril waits at the bullet-riddled door, his final vigil. Wounds cover his body, and the pallor of death fills his face. Sasha's child will grow up without a father, but Andrey knows the Lord will guide that child's steps just as he did their father.

"Oh, my son..." Andrey whispers, approaching his fallen pupil, and kneeling before him. There is no life in the once vibrant Stalker- he has gone to sup with the Father, where he feels no more pain and fears no more death. Many others have gone before him today. One must come after. 

Taking the cold, lifeless hand before him with one hand, and closing Kiril's eyes with the other, Andrey shuts his own eyes, and steels himself for what is to come. 

"O Lord, the God of powers, great and awesome, abundant in might and transcendent in goodness, full of mercy and compassion: incline and hear me who am vile and sinful. O my Christ, Who saved Jonah out of the belly of the whale and Daniel from the mouths of lions, deliver me at the time of death from the dreadful darkness of the prince of evil. Do not let the devil come over the deathbed of Thy servant."

There is no more gunfire in the sanctuary. The last of the saints have fallen. Soon, Andrey will be called.

"May my soul, O Lord, never see the darkness of the demons, neither in this life, nor in the future one, neither in the agony of death, nor at my ascent to heaven. May not the accursed dragon deride my miserable soul when it abandons this depraved body. Do not let the filthy spirit of fetor and stench snatch it, O my Lord, my Christ, my Jesus, my God, my Light, and carry it away to perdition. O my Master, God of Heaven and earth, may my eyes never see his hideous and darksome face. But at the time of my end, O my holy, thrice holy and glorified King, send me Thy mercy and Truth. O my God, at that time send Michael, the commander-in-chief, over Thy servant. Send me Gabriel, Uriel, Raphael, the great and bright generals, with all their immaculate and thrice-blessed army, to crush the insatiable dragon of Hades who gnashes his teeth and wants to snatch and devour anyone living piously. O my God, at the time of my departure, sink him and all his filthy army into the abyss, in Tartarus, into outer darkness and the gnashing of teeth. At that time, O my Lord Jesus Christ, my delight, my Resurrection, send the merciful and philanthropic Comforter, the Spirit of Truth, to receive my own spirit in His incomparable sweetness and immortal holiness. Send him to strengthen me with a flaming sword preceding me and crushing the evil rulers of darkness. For, if these abominations of iniquity plunge into the fire, into darkness, into the abyss, into Hades, I will be able without pain to cross the ethereal spheres to come close to Thee, the Triune Sun, to fall before Thy compassion, to kiss Thy immaculate feet, to be filled with the Deity, with Thy Holy Spirit, and confess the countless wonders Thou didst for my sake: How Thou broughtest me to repentance, gave me life, 'and out of the depths of the earth again Thou broughtest me up!'"

As he prays, he hears the voices of the Reich in the sanctuary. He swears one of them is a foreigner, by his accent. German? English? Perhaps American? They're approaching the door, as are others. It is time.

Andrey opens his eyes, yet his prayers do not cease.

"I will enumerate them all before the holy angels, that I may be overcome by the effulgence of the sweetest and most delightful divine pleasure. And transported by Thy ineffable fragrance, grace, and divine beauty, I shall chant to Thee then the great Song of Songs! Hear me, O my God, even though I may transgress Thy law before Thee every day. Hear me, my King, My Redeemer, and make me worthy to enter Thy glory, just as I beseech Thee night and day, and pray to Thee, and supplicate Thy immortal and life-giving majesty. O my Lord Jesus Christ, I ardently beg Thee again and always: At the time of my departure, send me the resplendent Virgin, the most pure temple, the sacred treasury of Thy wealth, O my Christ, to strengthen me. Send me at that time the holy Forerunner and Baptist John, the luminous stars—the Apostles—the prophets and the martyrs, the preachers and evangelists, confessors, ascetics, and righteous, that Thy creature may be glorified. Yes, immortal Lord, hear me, the sinner, and enable me to attain Thy inexpressible, never aging and thrice blessed glory." 

"Open it," the American says in stilted Russian.

"I hear something on the other side," a Reichsman says.

"I said open it, Vlad," the American demands.

"But, my Lord, give rest also to every servant of Thine in the throes of death, wherever this prayer will be heard, that the foul demons be disgraced," Andrey prays yet further, his voice growing louder and more determined, more bold, filled with the fire of the Holy Spirit. "Crush them, O Master, with Thy mighty hand. Disperse them, O Mighty One, with Thy flaming sword. Burn them with the lightning of Thy fire-breathing power, O Thou Who art the plenitude of greatness, loftiness and awe."

There is a kick at the door. It is locked, but it is worn and torn by gunfire and explosive. It will not last long.

 "Yea, Lord, God of my holy Fathers, who pleased Thee from the beginning of time to the present, do not scorn my petition, O Holy One. Do not turn away from my supplication, O Compassionate One. But implant within my prayer a double-edged sword, divine, heavenly, deadly to the demons and vengeful against the spirits of wickedness; yet filled with sympathy, forgiveness, compassion and goodness."

Andrey raised the stock of his shotgun to his shoulder and took aim at the door. "Amen," he said, "praise be to God." 

Another kick at the door, harder this time. It won't last much longer. Another kick splinters it. 

"Your servant, at last, comes to your Throne, o God," Andrey whispers, and then, the door gives. 

 

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