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Metro: Beyond

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@Grimscythe

Park Kultury was considered something of a second capital for Hansa. The art work that made the station famous before the war had survived, still as clean as the day the bombs dropped, despite the communistic depictions in such a capitalistic station the residents had come to love the artwork and treated it almost with reverence to a past long gone, and almost forgotten to many within the station. The station of Park Kultury, unlike the true capital of Hansa; Komsomolskaya which lay far to the northeast, on the other side of the ring, was a heavily militarized place. Guards armed not with the usual assault rifles instead carried their larger brother, the RPK, and were covered from head to toe in riot gear. It almost reminded Katya of the Redline, just minus the communism. Well, except the murals, which offered a strange sense of familiarity, but also anxiety. 

There were not many civilians in Park Kultury, it's transfer to the Redline station of the same name had made Hansa nervous, even before their war over D6, and ever since then it's been one giant military base that allowed in Stalkers and the occasional caravan. Katya almost didn't make it in, if it wasn't for her refugee status....and Misha. 

They had been gone for almost a day, and by now she could hardly focus on the book that she had bought from the stations sparse library, her hands kept shaking, and her mind was filled with all manner of horrors. She had told them about that tunnel in the direction of the abandoned Park Pobedy, while Grischa mocked her for saying it might lead to Emerald City, Misha had convinced the old man it might still have something worthy of looting. Even if it was hidden, unmarked on any map, only existing in rumors, and....hundreds of meters from the nearest station, from safety. Filled with Lenin only knows what.

She forced down as much of her anxiety as she could but not matter how much she tried to ignore the feelings they kept returning, as did all of the images her mind forced into her head of what could have possibly happened to those two on a trip that should have been maybe ten hours at most! Not only where they here employers they were also the closest thing she had to friends since she ran from the Redline years ago. Grischa may have been an asshole, even a bully most days, but he was almost fatherly when something came along to make him act as such. And then there was Misha...

"Opening up!" One of the guards shouted, and the airlock gate leading to some of the southern side tunnels let out the same mechanical screeching that she had grown accustomed to in the two weeks she had lived her with Misha. 

Why don't they oil it, maintain it or whatever they need to do? She wondered. 

"Hey, Andreyvich--Get the doctor!" One of the guards shouted, and she knew. She didn't know how she knew but she knew. It felt like someone had hit her stomach, she couldn't breath but she still threw the book down on her bed, ran out of the tent that had become her home and ran off in the direction of the barricades near the tunnels. 

The guards came in, with what looked like a stretcher. 

Oh no-no-no-no! Her thoughts screamed and she rushed forward, bumping into a guard who had been watching them pull in what looked like...a woman? She looked around, eyes darting for any signs of her family. Her ears picked them up first, all of the anxiety left in an instant as she looked towards the source of that old bastards voice. 

"Well, Mikhail Ivanovich we did it." Grischa said as he entered and turned to look at Misha.

"Mikhail Ivanovich?" Misha asked, not hearing his friend using his given name and patronymic name in years. "Something tells me I'm in for a lecture." He said.

"Oh you are....later  though." Grischa said.

"MISHA!" Katya shouted rushing over.

"Wait, Katya-don't!" Misha yelled back but couldn't stop the overly affection girl from grabbing both of the men in a bear hug.

"Oh...God!" Katya gagged. "What....in Lenin's name is all over you two?!" She coughed out.

"Sewage" Grischa said bluntly as Katya looked in dismay at her shirt and pants, now covered in it.

"Wha...sewage?" She asked. "What happened?" She continued. "Where's you're shirt, Grischa?" She asked now looking the shit covered shirtless old man over.

"....Let's get changed." Misha said. "Then we'll tell you.

Meanwhile, Katya had been put onto a stretcher back in the tunnel. An shoddy home made one. They had cut the crap covered shirt of the old man off of her and then taken her into the station, it's blindingly bring lights and towards the field hospital. 

(OCC: Russian names are weird, but I tried to make it realistic with the inclusion if Misha's father name/middle name.) 

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Klara Yankov stood over one of many cots that were strewn about the field hospital, which were at that moment largely empty. The elderly man that lay dying on it was a lost cause; there was nothing she could do to slow or stop the progression of his disease and if it was, in fact, what she suspected it was, then by now the best she could do was lessen his pain. Except that she couldn't do much in that regard, either. Supplies were scarce, and so she had dosed him with something to help him sleep while she debated the morality of euthanasia. There was, after all, no one to enforce Russian law anymore. They lived in different times.

It was while she looked down at the man, pondering his fate, that the tent's flap was pushed aside. Andreyvich lifted his hand, but rather than wave, he was beckoning her. He didn't know if the man she stood near was awake or not, so he wasn't going to shout at her from across the tent. Pursing her lips, she stepped away from the old man and pulled the curtain closed.

"We got one injured at the gate," he said the moment she was close enough.

"How?" she asked, but she was already pushing past him. Klara was quick, always quick. When it came to playing God with a person's life, time meant everything. Andreyvich was on her heels, and nearly ran into her when the stretch passed them by en route. "Christ," she breathed, and the men carrying the stretcher stopped. "Take her back out to the tunnels. We don't have the supplies to spare for saving her life."

"Klara," Andreyvich began, but she shot him a look. Words weren't needed to convey her point, and Klara didn't recognize the girl from any of the Hanza stations. That only justified her decision. The men exchanged glances, then looked to Andreyvich for guidance as Klara stalked away, no doubt to berate someone at the entrance for wasting her time. She had better things to do than play doctor with a lost cause. Unaware of Sofka's origins, Andreyvich looked back at the men. "Take her to the tent. We're not savages."

A moment later, he followed after the woman.

---

"What the hell are you thinking, trying to waste our supplies like that?!" Klara shouted, though it was hard to tell who the actual recipient of her anger was. Grischa and Misha were just as likely candidates as the guard that had ordered Andreyvich to fetch her. She was seething, no doubt insulted by the lack of forethought that went into any of their actions. It was a common occurrence, Klara shouting. The medic had a temper as fiery as her hair and a fuse as short as the Lena River was long. Andreyvich appeared shortly after, coming to a stop next to her. Klara's head turned, then she looked beyond him, expecting to see the stretcher. When she didn't, those blue eyes fell on him, and he could swear he could see the flames of Hell stirring within them.

"Where the fuck is the girl?" she half-snarled at him, nostrils flaring.

"En route to the tent," Andreyvich answered, but his eyes were on the guard. "As I told the men carrying her, we are not savages."

"Savages or not, if she even has a pulse, there's no use wasting precious supplies on her to try and save her," Klara reiterated angrily before returning her own gaze to the guard. "She's lost too much blood, and even if I can draw enough to get her type, the likelihood of finding a donor in time for a transfusion is slim to none. It's a waste of time and effort."

Her nose wrinkled as she glanced at Misha, Grischa, and Katya. "Judging by the looks and smell of you two, I assume you're the ones responsible for the corpse headed to my tent?"

@AnOriginalAccountNam

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@Grimscythe

 

The trio had been fetched by a guard before they had time to get washed or changed, much to their disgust, Misha had expected it to be mostly to ask for an explanation regarding the state in which they found the girl—not a lecture! They remained silent as the doctor began to rip into the guards around her. In the two weeks they had been living at Park Kultury, neither Misha nor Grischa had been to see the doctor, even after expeditions to the surface. It had been a lucky couple of weeks with no injuries between either of them. Katya, meanwhile, was required at the beginning of their time here, specifically for a required physical. The second the border guards had seen the refugee status, and especially the name of her home station, Okhotny Ryad, on her passport they became suspicious. Even in its weakened state, the Redline was still viewed as a very real threat by the Hansa, especially those in military stations such as Park Kultury. While it was debatable that any of the doctors remembered Katya’s short visit to the hospital, what was more certain was that Katya most definitely remembered Doctor Yankov, and for more…base reasons than her fiery temper.

They’re the size of my damn head! Her thoughts yelled upon Katya’s first meeting with the medical staff and specifically Yankov. The meeting was short overall, but it seemed to take hours in Katya’s mind. It took all of Katya’s strength to keep herself from staring at the doctors’ breasts and to keep herself from blushing the entire time as well, both of which bordered on the impossible during that checkup. Even now, in the middle of a lecture alongside her friends, her eyes would seem to move in the direction of the doctor’s chest of their own volition for brief seconds at a time. 

“Judging by the looks and smell of you two, I assume you’re the ones responsible for the corpse headed to my tent?” The doctor asked, her anger not faltering for a second but now seemingly mixed with disgust at the condition of the three. For a few seconds no one responded. Grischa for his part had expected Mikhail to speak up for the bitch, while Katya for her part had simply been in the wrong place and the wrong time. Katya looked over at Misha who was staring at—Oh come on!

It had not taken her long to track where his eyes were looking, and soon a small lump formed in her throat as she looked away and ignored what was going on.

Maybe he just prefers bigger breasts? Her mind asked, but Katya ignored it and kept silent to the doctor’s question. She had always been on the smaller side of everything, the Redline had made her malnourished and she would remain so for sometime after leaving it years ago, she had always been among the shortest of people in whatever station she found herself in, she had noticed her height issue in childhood and now, after puberty and in her twenties she noticed she was still small, now not only in height or build but also in cup size, especially by the doctors standards. She hated it, she hated Misha’s eyes being glued on the doctor’s even more…

Grischa meanwhile had turned his eyes to see where Misha was looking too, and sighed loudly in annoyance, catching both Katya and also Misha’s attention who looked at the oldman as if pulled from a trance.

“You’re fucking unbelievable!” Grischa announced.

“What?” Misha asked but was seemingly ignored by old man who looked back at the doctor.

“Yes—we are, doctor.” Grischa answered, and just as the doctor seemed like she was about to say something, he cut her off, much to the shock of the guards around her as none of them had ever worked up the nerve to do so to any major extent.

“Now look, we found her out in the fucking tunnels—we fought our way through…bandits and spider bugs, crawling through literal shit to get here.” He began angrily, remembering the lies he had begun to tell in the tunnels and continuing with it. “So, I suggest you go to her and do whatever you can for that wound, even if it’s just to throw some alcohol on it, even with your supposedly supply shortage!” Grischa argued.

“So, we done here? You got patients after all.” Grischa continued, gesturing to the tent, and before the doctor could respond he grabbed Misha’s shit covered wrist and then gestured for Katya to follow and the group left in a hurry, leaving behind shocked guards and the ever furious doctor Yankov.

---

Park Kultury, like many stations, had a series of showers set up in various side rooms of the station. While most were meant for soldiers, there was an extra room with five stalls in a row that visitors such as Stalkers or caravans could use for two bullets per person for a ten minute shower in an effort to save water for the soldiers to use, either for drinking or their own showering when they had a chance to. The group had made a quick stop to gather some clothing from the two tents they had been renting over the past couple of weeks then made their way as quickly as they could to the showers.

That’s where she and the others had been for the past few minutes, even with the soap and hot water she swear she could still smell those two through the stalls. What happened with their little rescue mission? Why’d they have to go through sewage of all things? She wondered. As the shower continued, she kept on finding her mind going back to the thousands of questions she had ready, but most of the thoughts ended up leading her back to thoughts of Misha.

You gotta tell him…her thoughts began to whisper to her again, for what seemed like the millionth time. She had thought that over and over again for days now. It had taken a while but she knew she liked him, ironically she found him annoying, just as much as Grischa, when they all first meet almost four years ago, back then she was just happy to have allies in the metro. All her life the Redline made it seems like Hansa was filled with nothing but corrupt bureaucrats and that small satellites of the Hansa such as the Arbat confederation where simply fools, but Misha and Grischa proved both of those wrong, respectively. In those fours years she had gone from finding them annoying to seeing them as friends within maybe a year, then around three years into it all she soon found her thoughts and feelings changing, at least in regards too Misha but she always assumed those thoughts would leave her mind eventually, but they never did—and after all this time she was beginning to get sick of keeping them in her head. It was driving her crazy—she could not even feel secure with him staring at the doctor of all people, and was even craving the same attention herself.

He just seems me as a friend another thought came to mind but was shot down by another almost immediately.

Enough of the bullshit—what are they gonna do if you tell him how you feel? Throw you out? Her mind reasoned and Katya sighed, nodding to herself.

“….Tonight…we’ll, we’ll…tell him tonight.” she mumbled. Usually after missions Grischa would go to the bar, and the other two would mostly follow out of habit.

“Huh?” Grischa mumbled, his voice carrying through the stall next to her.

“Nothing.” She responded, turning off the water, figuring she was clean enough and left the stall, the door leading from the guest showers to the rest of the station was closed thankfully, even still, being one of the few women in the station, part of her decided to throw her clothes on as quickly as she could. There were no shortages of peepers in any station, some were just better hidden then others. She got her underwear and pants on quickly enough but just as she was putting on her bra another stall door opened, and she instinctively looked over her shoulder. Then immediately looked away as a naked Misha came walking out then stopped with a shocked look.

“Sorry!” She almost yelped out, finishing the bra and quickly tossing her shirt on.

“Same.” He muttered, slowly grabbing his things and backing off into the stall as Katya’s face turned red, and Grischa’s devilish chuckle could be heard through the stall, which Misha soon lightly hit with his fist, which only caused the old bastard to chuckle more.

“I’ll meet you guys back at home!” She said, quickly leaving and trying to clear her head.

They had arrived in Park Kultury two weeks back with enough money to rent two guests’ tents. Normally they’d all bunk together in one but it seemed Grischa, being Grischa, wanted to be away from the other two when he could be, and rented a tent for himself, he also payed for another tent, the tent Katya and Misha had been sharing with two small cots.

She was used to the odd arrangement, she had after all been in smaller tents with them, but with how much her mind had been fixated on telling him it only made it more awkward, at least to her. Misha did not seem to care either way, not that he’d have time to. The area above Park Kultury was a gold mind for Stalkers and he was gone most of the day, too long to really notice any change in her behavior before they’d all go to the bar then come home and pass out.

By now she was back home, waiting for them to return. It didn’t take long, a few minutes later she saw them walking over. No longer covered in sewage, Grischa with a shirt—everything seemed normal.

“You know…I think I can still smell it.” Grischa mumbled, looking himself over as he came by.

“Shut up, please. I don’t want to think about it anymore.” Misha said.

“I’m serious.” Grischa replied then shrugged before going over to his tent and collapsing in his bed, then Misha did the same.

“Um…guys?” Katya asked. She wanted to know exactly what the hell happened to them…. plus her little confession called for a drink or two to force it out anyway.

“Yeah?” Misha asked after a few moments of silence, an arm now covering his eyes as he lay sprawled out on his cot.

“Um, what happened?”

“Grischa…” Misha called out.

“Later.” He replied weakly and Katya sighed.

“….No drinks then?”
“Not now, Katya.” Misha mumbled back softly, and she nodded to herself.

Later….we’ll tell him later she thought to herself.

“Ok.” She said to them.

“I’m gonna…find something else to do…it’s still early.”

“Ok…” Misha muttered, rolling over in his bed and passing out, much like Grischa had seemingly done during the conversation before either had noticed. Katya gave a saddened sigh, and then began to walk off, hoping to find something to do until the station began to close up for the night.

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