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Metro: Beyond

Lessons for a cannibal.


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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?"

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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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  • 2 weeks later...

Klara bit the inside of her cheek, digging her teeth into the flesh until she could taste the coppery tang of blood pooling in her mouth. Those blue eyes of hers glared furiously at the two men, Mischa more so than the demanding old man. She was no more oblivious to the tilt of his gaze than the others, but it was something she was becoming accustomed to. If plastic surgeons were still a thing, she'd have seen one long ago.

"With any luck, she'll be dead by time I get back to the tent," the medic spat at the trio before storming off. She could be heard swearing at anyone in her way almost all the way back to the field hospital, where Sofka lay on one of the cots. Approaching the girl's side, Klara reached for her throat. She felt a faint pulse and inwardly groaned. There went her excuse to save the supplies by letting the girl die. She stepped away, tying a piece of cloth over her mouth and nose as she reached for a pair of scissors and cut away the youth's wet, bloody clothing.

Hours passed, stretching onward and onward as the medic's stomach growled hungrily, but she kept working. Between Sofka's broken nose and the hole in her side, Klara found it no surprise that the girl looked dead. She called for her only assistant as she took a sample of the girl's blood. The one thing in her life that Klara couldn't complain about was the availability of some forms of medical technology in the Hanza Stations. It made assisting patients easier, because she could still, at the very least, type the blood of someone that was injured.

Starting the test, she moved back to her patient. She washed her hands, sanitizing them with alcohol before she felt inside Sofka's wound for the bullet. All the while, her gaze was on the girl's face. The youth puzzled her. She looked surprisingly healthy, for having been found in the tunnels. In fact, what was she doing alone in the tunnels, that she had to be found by those two buffoons?

"Did the bandits have you?" Klara asked, knowing there'd be no answer. She felt something hard and smooth. Satisfied that it wasn't near as bad as it looked, she reached for a pair of forceps and pulled it out. With a curved needle and thin fishing line, she stitched the wound closed. By time she was done, the typing test was ready and she looked at it's results.

"What a lucky bitch you are, cave girl," she laughed bitterly, completely unaware of how accurate Sofka's nickname actually was. She washed her hands again, and this time, set to work on a small blood transfusion--enough that she could still function without being too lightheaded afterward, while still hopefully benefiting the girl.. When she was done, she bandaged her and laid a sheet over her bare body before discarding her clothing. If Grischa wanted her saved, he could find her some clothes himself.

Once all was said and done, Klara made sure the girl was restrained. She didn't know the youth, and she wasn't going to take the risk of her reacting violently to not knowing where she was. After that, she ate a sandwich and laid down on one of the cots, dozing while both of her patients were unconscious.

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  • 2 weeks later...

@Grimscythe

Katya had failed in her mission to find something to occupy her time, Park Kultury was simply not the most entertaining of stations in Hansa; most of its occupants had better things to do than to talk to some refugee such as herself. Most avoided her due to that anyhow. So, she had resorted to walking the platform for a while, buying some food at the bar then wandering aimlessly once more before heading back home and collapsing into bed next to Misha before passing out herself.

Her sleep wasn’t exactly restful, after a while she woke up and from there it turned into a vicious cycle of tossing and turning and struggling to sleep. Something about that girl kept her awake and she wasn’t sure what it was…well other than the mystery of it all. Adam, another stalker and a friend of her’s and Misha’s, had told her about those tunnels near Park Pobedy days ago; and also the stations history. No one was supposed to be alive out there, it had been cut off from the metro not to long after the war, the Arbat confederation; Grischa’s home, had blown up the tunnels between the Arbat and Park Pobedy for reasons long forgotten by this point, some say it was during the war between Hansa and the Redline and Park Pobedy tried to side with the Reds but she had never heard that growing up and had decided it was just a story. Other’s say there were monsters that would steal children away in the middle of the night, with the children’s voices being heard coming from the tunnel leading to Park Pobedy, none of the rescue squads they sent ever returned and eventually it got to such a point that the Arbat had finally but reluctantly decided to blow up the tunnels heading south, sealing away the monsters and their missing children away forever, if they were still alive at all.

Those were only ghosts stories, or so Katya had originally thought, like everyone else. Now this girl called that all into question and Katya’s mind was filled with a thousand different questions and even more possible answers.

The most obvious answer to ‘who is she?’ would be they were wrong about Park Pobedy. Sure, no one could or would deny that it was cut off from the rest of the metro, but had heard stories of plenty of other communities that had not only managed to survive but also thrived despite being cut off from other factions and set up in worse places than whatever state Park Pobedy was in, she had stories of people living on stations on the surface, people who had become mutated and adapted to the radiation—but that seemed more unlikely than people living at Park Pobedy when she thought about it.

Then there were even crazier ideas on where this girl could have come from, and who she could be, ideas that Katya would love to be true.

From what she had learned after leaving the Redline and its censorship behind there was much more to the Moscow Metro than what was shown on the maps that could be found at any station. The Tsar’s in the medieval ages made their own secret passageways for escape, gold mines once existed in abundance and when they were emptied their shafts remained, the city contained a massive sewer system with parts of course connecting to the various restrooms of the metro stations (a system that Misha and Grischa were now well acquainted with it seems…) All of these construction projects had left a series of catacombs alongside and in some cases going underneath the already mind boggling deep metro stations; but there were other tunnels meant for different purposes within the metro, tunnels she had grown quite familiar with from personal experience and obsession.

Metro-2; a collection of hidden metro lines and stations built alongside as well as underneath the civilian metro along with various government buildings around the city. Dozens, perhaps even hundreds of these hidden stations were built around the city, all in secret; meant to save government VIPs and help them escape Moscow. At least that’s what she had been told and managed to piece together over the years. With Moscow now divided up amongst various factions it was safe to say the government got out, or most likely died if the stories she had heard from Rangers were anything to go by. They had found Metro-2’s command center a couple of years back, back in ’33…then they lost it in ’34 in a war with her Redline but even in that short amount of time a lot of rumors spread and it seemed that every rumor, no matter how insane or over the top, seemed to have some kind of truth to it, even if just a little when it came to Metro-2.

Thankfully she wasn’t the only one with this odd obsession, she did have allies when it came to learning more about Metro-2: Adam, a friend of Misha’s and now, Katya’s, who was also fascinated by these hidden tunnels and stations, and all the goods hidden in their storage areas. Where he saw treasure and therefore fortune, she saw a possible escape from the metro and it’s ever worsening state of affairs. Despite their differences in how they viewed this hidden metro, he had told her of Park Pobedy’s believed connection to Metro-2. Adam had learned in his travels was a station that bridged the gap between Metro-1 and Metro-2, with its line heading straight for the Kremlin and other locations around Moscow.

The Kremlin was a hellhole from what Adam had told her, filled with mutants and ghosts as he had put it. The mutants she could believe, the ghosts were a whole other story. Even with that part of Metro-2 seemingly gone she had heard stories from others saying that Metro-2 wasn’t completely abandoned, that parts of the government had remained behind in Moscow even after the world had ended. Some claimed these hold outs were called The Invisible Watchers, and controlled the major factions of the metro, others claimed they lived as those in the civilian metro do now, in tent cities and trading with smaller factions, hiding themselves as best they could from the likes of Hansa and the Redline. Katya did not know what to believe personally, part of her didn’t care; she only wanted it to be true. That there was someone living in Metro-2, someone who had been part of a society where it wasn’t corrupted by Hansa or held back by the Redline or destroyed the Reich.

And now it seems like that possibility had presented itself in the form of that strange girl. Park Pobedy had been dead since the early days of humanity living in the metro, yet they claimed they found her in some tunnels near Park Pobedy, tunnels Adam had told her where part of Metro-2. Was he correct? Were they really from Metro-2? If so, could this girl be from one of those rumored communities there? Katya could only hope. The girl, whatever her name was, was presumably still out cold, maybe even dead. If she was alive, Katya knew she would have to ask her…

-----

The morning came a lot sooner than Misha had anticipated. Park Kultury’s day-night cycle was different than that of his home station; Serpukhovskaya. He opened his eyes for a second then immediately closed them before rolling over with an annoyed huff. He forgot to close the tent flap before falling asleep and the light blinded him for a moment.

“…You awake?” Katya asked, surprising Misha for a moment. In his grogginess he forgot they had been sharing a bed for the past week or two.

“Yeah.” He mumbled “You?”

“No, I just talk in my sleep.” Katya replied, getting a small chuckle from the stalker who soon forced himself to sit up, looking down at Katya.

“You look tired.” He said. “Didn’t sleep well?” He asked soon after, getting a small shack of the head from her.

“No.” She said. “…Spent most of the night thinking…”

“About?”

“That girl.” She said, tilting her head upwards and looking towards the back of the tent with her eyes, towards the direction of the hospital. Misha nodded in response. Right now he didn’t know how to feel about ‘that girl.’ He had stopped thinking about her not too long after getting to the tent and collapsing. Part of him agreed with Grischa’s sentiment, maybe they should’ve left her behind, or killed her once they got out of those fucking tunnels. Part of him was thankful she gave directions out of them, however he doubted she did it out of the kindness of her heart. Another part of him was still angry, and cautious. Park Pobedy was supposed to be abandoned, now it seemed it was inhabited by some weird group of killers, one of which he had brought back into Hansa. She was one girl, and badly injured, but he had learned to never underestimate people after all these years in the metro…he could only hope she was still in the hospital, actually recovering, and not trying to kill the medical staff.

“You know her name?” Katya asked. Misha thought back at everything that happened yesterday, but no name came to him and he shook his head.

“No.” Misha said then stopped, the screams of that boy at Park Pobedy screaming his head off as the girl broke his arm.

“Actually…” He mumbled. “I think it’s Sofka…” He said.

“Sofka?” Katya asked, and Misha nodded.

“Yeah, Sofka.”

After a few moments of silence, Misha spoke up again.

“Were you thinking anything specific?” He asked. “Or just…generally who is she?”

“A bit of both.” She mumbled, soon sitting up on the bed herself.

“Part of me thinks she might be from Metro-2.” Katya finally said. Misha had to force a tired sigh back down. After everything that happened the day before he didn't want to think about metro-2, its tunnels, or anything that could possibly in them for a long time, still though part of him enjoyed her little obsession with that line, and for multiple reasons. They had found some tunnels before the ones at Park Pobedy, even a small bunker connected to metro-2 one time and made a fair bit of money with what they hauled out of its supply room. Her obsession was profitable when it actually managed to find something more real than just the usual rumors.

There were less selfish reasons for why he enjoyed her little obsession. It had been a little over twenty-four years since the war had occurred in 2013, besides being forced to live underground humanity had lost most of its forms of entertainment, TV shows were no longer produced, only the richest of stations had anything resembling a movie theater, usually on projectors, and most plays were only being acted out in Theater station on the Redline, one of the few stations on the Redline that had not descended into absolute anarchy. Meanwhile new books were even harder to find, some well off stations had local papers but that was also quite rare. For all intents and purposes the metro was a boring place when one found time to sit down and not focus on day to day survival. Despite most forms of entertainment going extinct there was one form that had remained all this time and had perhaps even thrived in humanities new home: storytelling. While books were no longer easily produced stations all over the metro were filled with stories and story tellers. The campfires usually found in the center of platforms had turned into meeting places, not just for warmth or to talk to friends, but also to share the latest rumor, the latest story of some great adventure a stalker, a caravan guard, or even just a simple traveler had been on. Stories of monsters, great battles, political intrigue, love, hatred, the old world and what people expected in the years to come where all continuously being told and reworked within the metro and for many this was the new movie theater, the new book to be read and talked about, for the average metro dweller rumors, ghost stories and tall-tales were their movie theaters, their books and their TV shows. Their world was built on rumors and it would probably be for years to come, maybe even for however long humanity had left. For many these stories were usually just stories, and for some they were truth; but for Katya, at least from what Misha could tell, they served a few other purposes, the most obvious was the escapism of course. For someone like Katya, a Redline refugee, the overly capitalistic Hansa was almost like another world, one that simultaneously welcomed as a matter of policy but privately treated her with contempt and suspicion, on occasion even out right hostility. Other than Misha and Adam, and perhaps Grischa, she had no friends in this other world she had more or less been forced to live in, and the fact that Misha and Grischa bounced around a lot did not help with fixing that either. She was shy when Misha had met her, and living in the Hansa had only made her more so, but when she heard anything about the secret tunnels of metro-2 she would perk up almost immediately. Heyes would widen in interest and she would become more talkative, trying to get every last piece of information she could on it. For some it was annoying, for others she was just an interested listener, but for Misha it was oddly endearing. Grischa may have cared less, and teased her over it, but for Misha it was heartwarming, her passion for it was, in a way, slightly cute. Even attractive in some ways…

He had known Katya for a couple of years now, in that time she had gone from some weird semi-homeless girl to a true friend, and in some ways something of an apprentice to Misha. There weren’t many women stalkers in the metro, but they did exist. Grischa never went with them, whether out of sexism or just not caring enough for the girl to go with, Misha wasn’t sure; but she was insistent, she wanted to help and so he had readily agreed to show her the ropes, even helped her buy a radiation suit and a gasmask for their travels to the surface. During those moments alone up there they’d talk and explore, gathering what they could. Then return home, go to the bar, continuing the conversations while getting drunk. All the usual stuff anyone would expect from stalking partners. He had heard comments back home at Serpukhovskaya, women stalkers weren’t common after all, those that did exist would almost always accompany their husbands and boyfriends up there and due to that trend some did think they were together…

It wasn’t like Misha hadn’t thought of it either. She was a cute girl, kind, funny on occasion once someone got past her shyness. He knew he was developing a small crush on her but he doubted it’d go anywhere. He wasn’t ready for a relationship, not after the last one….

“Hey! Misha—you there?” She asked and he looked over at her, confused for a moment.

“Yeah.” He muttered.

“…Why do you think she’s from Metro-2?” He asked, remembering where they had left off.

“If she is, I want nothing to do with that place.” Grischa said, startling both of them. He had made it to their tent without either of them noticing. The old man was stealthier than most gave him credit for.

“That bitch nearly got us killed.” Grischa said, walking into the tent and sitting on the floor, across from Katya and Misha.

“What do you mean?” She asked, and Misha sighed, knowing this was going to be a pain in the ass to talk about. Normally he’d have let it go, but Grischa loved to bitch.

“Those directions from Adam lead us straight to a group of cannibals, Katya.” Grischa began, a look of horror soon forming on Katya’s face.

“Park Pobedy seems to be filled with them. She lured us in, then they jumped us. Locked me and Misha up here in a cell, threw shit on us. Then we escaped, fought our way through fucking spider bugs just to get back. If she’s from metro-2 then I am never want to go anywhere near it again!” Grischa announced loudly.

“She did help us though.” Misha muttered.

“Oh yeah—and this ass keeps feeling sorry for her for some damn reason!” Grischa replied angrily.

“She helped you? After trying to get you killed?” Katya asked, confused.

“I don’t get it either.” Misha said.

“It doesn’t matter why.” Grischa said, looking out the tent then back to the two.

“If I had my way I’d have thrown her at the spiders!” Grischa whispered loudly.

“Then why didn’t you?” Misha asked, annoyed at the old man’s cruelty. He was getting tired of Grischa’s shit, even now after being used to it for years. Yeah, Sofka nearly got them killed, she also saved them.

“I say we give her the benefit of the doubt….hell maybe if we ask she’ll tell us.” Misha explained.

“Or she’ll slit all of our throats and drink our blood, cook you over a spit maybe.” Grischa replied dryly and crossed his arms.

“She’s still at the hospital…” Katya began.

“And hopefully she died in their beds!” Grischa shot back. Misha let out an annoyed grunt, forcing himself off the bed, taking Katya by the hand and beginning to lead her from the tent.

“Where are you going?” Grischa asked.

“We’re going to ask her…shit talking her from the tent won’t do us any good.” Misha explained, letting go of Katya’s hand then gesturing for them to follow as he lead them in the direction of the hospital.

Edited by AnOriginalAccountNam
Added a part in, fixed a confusing part.
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  • 1 month later...

While Misha, Grischa, and Katya slept, Klara worked. She gave as much of her own blood as she could, and she used reserves. They were supplies that weren't replaceable, and using them on the girl was a waste. The field medic played the part of an angel of mercy from time to time, and it was tempting to euthanize Sofka. Nonetheless, she did everything she could in her power to ensure the girl survived.

And she did. By the time the trio arrived to check on and interrogate the strange girl, she was stable. Klara saved her, but it was expensive. The girl slept, her chest heaving up and down as her body began to recoup from its injuries. The medic lifted her sapphire gaze to the tent's entrance, watching them.

"If you think she's going to be awake this soon, you're mistaken," Klara stated, her tone vexed. "It'll be days before the girl wakes."

She rose from her chair, eyes dark with fatigue as she approached the group. Klara needed a break; she needed to go home and sleep herself, but chances were she'd drop onto one of the cots here. She glanced toward the two patients she housed, her brow furrowing.

"You should go, I'll send word when your little tunnel rat wakes. I imagine they'll want to interrogate her as well," the medic explained. Sometimes, she got to sit in on the interrogations. It depended on whether the individual remained bedbound. Klara eyed Misha, stepping closer to him as her voice lowered into a growl.

"What the hell happened to that girl? If I find out either one of you are responsible for her injuries, I'll deal with you myself. That girl is lucky she's alive, but she took one hell of a beating. Broken bones, bullet wounds. How the hell do two men allow that to happen to a girl?" the medic chastised him. She reached forward, fingers seeking to curl around the collar of his shirt. With a tug, she intended to pull him closer to her. "You better replace everything I had to waste on your trash."

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Misha had been secretly dreading returning to the doctor after he had decided to head to the hospital with the other two, but by the time he set out he had figured it was too late to turn back and he had to enter the hospital tent. Even if he wasn't dreading it though he found himself pulled to that girl, his curiosity getting the better of him. For a few minutes after entering the tent, Misha found himself slightly hopeful the doctor wouldn't tear them a new one as seemed to be her normal way of doing things. However that hope was soon replaced by disappointment as she informed the trio that the girl was gonna be out for a while, then that disappointment turned to confusion then anger as she grabbed him. Without thinking Misha grabbed the doctor's wrist as hard as he could, squeezing it with a bear grip then staring her in the eyes, and holding his ground as she tried to pull him closer. He never liked being rough with women but decades in the metro had told him to never take anyone's shit, even if it was well meaning. 

"If you think we hurt her you are sorely mistaken, doctor." He told her angrily, his already tight grip only getting worse.

"...That girl needed our help and we gave it, rescued her from some crazy fuckers in the tunnels and then we helped her through some spider bugs that you idiots missed." Misha continued.

"Was it the perfect escape, hell no it wasn't but we managed!" Misha continued and by now a slightly worried Grischa began to step in.

"What I'm sure Misha means is that you do not need to worry about us, Doctor." Grischa began. "Like he said we didn't hurt her, we care just as much as you do..." Grischa explained, grabbing Misha's hand and quickly getting the younger man to let go of the doctor.

"As for payment I'm sure you and I can discuss it personally..." Grischa said. "These two are not the best with money, even if it's simple things like this..." He added, while Misha continued to glare and Katya watched in shock at the whole exchange.

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  • 2 weeks later...

When Misha's finers curled around Klara's wrist and he pulled her to it, the medic's reaction was swift. Her opposite hand curled into a fist and shot upward, aimed for the side of the man's face. Simultaneously, the woman ripped her wrist from the man's grip. Her lip curled into a snarl, baby blues simmering with rage.

"Don't you ever touch me again without permission," she snapped at him, before listening to his words. The anger melted away, replaced with confusion. "Spiderbugs?"

Klara wasn't always stationed in Hanza's post-apocalyptic idea of a hospital. She'd worked in the field, and she'd watched many good men and women die in them. She took a step back, glancing toward the unconscious girl on the bed. Her jaw tensed thoughtfully. Once Sofka was stabilized, Klara examined her further. There were signs of undernourishment, the most obvious of which was stunted growth. Though she couldn't weigh Sofka, she could tell the youth was smaller than she should be, considering she put the girl's age in her early twenties.

"No child could survive in the tunnels," she observed, and when she looked back at the trio, she appeared perplexed and concerned. "Where did you say you found her in the tunnels?"

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  • 2 weeks later...

@Grimscythe

(OOC: Sorry for the delay, life got away from me and I couldn't come up with much until today.)

For a moment Misha and Grischa kept quiet, with Misha giving a look to Grischa, asking for guidance.

Should we tell her? Misha had to ask himself, hoping Grischa was wondering the same. Oh yeah Doctor, we found a whole tribe of cannibals--she's one of them, thanks for helping her! Misha doubted that would end well. 

Grischa eventually spoke up after taking an odd breath, seemingly putting the story together in his mind.

"Well, as I'm sure those in Hansa know, south of the Arbat Confederation...my home..." Grischa said, touching his chest. "There is some tunnels that used to lead to Park Pobedy, and the stations after it."

Grischa! Misha almost yelled, but kept silent, and tried his best attempt to keep a straight face. Was he telling the truth? Misha hoped not. He doubted Hansa would let a cannibal live. Part of him began to question why he should care, he knew it would be more beneficial for most of them to just let Hansa know the truth, and let the girl be shot or sent to some prison or whatever punishment they'd give her...but at the same time part of him felt he owed the woman. She may have almost gotten them killed, she had almost gotten them eaten and had more or less made them crawl through shit to escape her friends, but she had also helped them. Lead them away from that hellhole and told them how to get back to the rest of the metro. As far as Misha was concerned they did owe her, even if just a little bit. What happened after this was still up in the air but he figured the least he could do for her, the least he could do to make them even was lie, or rather let Grischa, a man much better at lying them himself, spin some tale and lie for the girl, this 'Sofka' woman. 

Misha kept silent and listened to the story Grischa made up as he went along, finding the odd mixture of truth and lie oddly fascinating but not unheard of for Grischa. Misha had seen Grischa do it countless times, mixing the two, telling both the truth and lie. It had annoyed him at first, part of him detested liars but also knew that it was helpful when it was needed. 

"Well, I'm also sure you know the story. Everything south of the Arbat is just a dead zone, the tunnels heading to Park Pobedy collapsed not too long after the war, some say it collapsed the day of the war." Grischa explained the shrugged. 

"Even I can't really remember, been so long." He added then continued.

"But that doesn't matter. Park Pobedy is dead, or if anyone is there they don't care about the metro. But we..." Grischa motioned between himself and Misha. "Did find some tunnels not far from where the tunnel collapse was. Seems like maintenance tunnels. Really old ones, they seem to make up part of the Redline rather than the line Park Pobedy is on." Grischa began to explain before Katya spoke up.

"I think they might've been part of Metro-2, I heard part of it goes that way for the university....Emerald City." She said, rather hopefully as Grischa shook his head, annoyed. 

Metro-2, Emerald City, University, Yadda, Yadda...girl is like a broken fucking record! Grischa thought, wanting to scream at Katya for a moment. Damn girl never shut up over it, normally it was just annoying, at least for himself meanwhile fucking Misha actually encouraged it. When it first started he couldn't blame the girl for wanting to believe in the fairytale, who wouldn't? A place away from the radiation, filled with food and advanced technology, a guaranteed future, who wouldn't want any of that? There was even a time when Grischa considered it a possibility, but that was years ago. Now after looking for it's tunnels, mostly at Katya and Misha's urging, and now after nearly getting eaten by other humans and spider bugs he was too pissed to just ignore it, to cast it aside and let the girl rant about it, one of these days he knew he'd have to get it through her head: that Emerald City was a fairytale and that no one lived in the stations near the university but for right now he had to keep his cool, handle the damn doctor. 

"That's doubtful, Yekaterina." Grischa said, perhaps a little too sternly. 

"Either way though, there is not much left. The area we found her in seemed like a pretty cozy place. Had alot of beds, a camp fire or two. Weapons, lots of food." Grischa said a moment later, listing off what he had 'seen'. 

"Uh...some of the boxes even had some logos from the Redline so it seems they did have some trade. My guess is they used some tunnels that bypassed the Hansa portion of Park Kultury, and just went directly for the Redline. Why? I don't know." Grischa said simply and shrugged with a forced smile, hoping to make the conversation go smoother, maybe more cordial but he doubted the doctor ever had a friendly conversation in her life. 

"Maybe they don't like us capitalists." Grischa said and shrugged.

"Anyway, we found the maintenance tunnels and her little camp. We looked around for a bit, there's this weird sinkhole farther from her home, a few hundred meters past it. It was a tiny one last we saw, well...narrow. Seems someone put a little bridge over it, a little homemade one. Scrap metal, mostly. We went over it. If I had to say once you get past that portion of the bridge you are probably near the end of the Redline. Anything beyond that is probably part of the University." Grischa explained then turned his head briefly to Katya

but they are not important right now." Grischa explained, glaring at Katya for a moment, hoping she'd keep quiet for once before turning back to the doctor.

"We got past the bridge, and then it just goes to shit. We start hearing yelling and screaming from around the corner, probably the part of the tunnel going into the Redline directly. Then someone comes rushing out....that girl." Grischa said, nodding in Sofka's direction. 

"Then some men came out, probably trying to stop her and one of them opened up with a Kalash. My guess is that's where her bullet wound came from. As for the broken bones you mentioned..." Grischa began.

"I'm not sure, not all bandits in my experience go straight to raping and killing a woman...some do torture before. Breaking bones isn't exactly unheard of for the sick fuckers. I guess she got away not to long after she got a broken bone or two" Grischa explained then, thinking over everything else in his story, continued for Yakov.

"It all happened so fast but the girl went down and then the guys...I guess some Redline bandit gang...start shooting at us. We shot back. Killed them, and we picked up the girl. We tied her to me since she didn't seem in any condition to walk, damn girl owes me a shirt." Grischa said, giving a soft chuckle.

"Anyway we got her tied to me and...I-I guess that sinkhole was more of a latrine, I fell in to it, it wasn't too deep like I said, maybe a meter or two, more of an odd ditch than anything else--but it did have alot of shit in it." Grischa said, shaking his head, brining back some memories of that Sofka's little escape tunnel. He could still smell it.

"Misha here pulled me out though and we begin to hurry back to the entrance. Seems the gunshots got the attention of some spider bugs, damn things start coming out of vents, probably from some area deeper in the maintenance tunnels. Maybe even some deeper portion of the Redline away from the girls home." He offered.

"Who knows?" He said a moment later, shrugging again then continuing.

"Anyway, the little freakshows come out of the vent and we get out of there." Grischa said then gestured behind himself, pointing with his thumb in the general direction of the maintenance tunnel before looking back to the doctor.

"I'm sure you can send in some of the guards to confirm all of this...well, once you get past the spider bugs." Grischa offered, then looked the doctor in the eye.

"Might need alot of men for that specific nest though...They were really pissed off when we got away, and there were alot of them, dozens..." Grischa said then shrugged.

"But I wouldn't recommend wasting good soldiers over all of this..." He added. 

 

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  • 4 weeks later...

Klara listened to Grischa incredulously, each word he uttered only driving home a singular truth to the makeshift doctor: he was lying his wrinkly old ass off. She made note of every inconsistency in his tale, committing to memory some of the more obscure details as she waited for him to finish regaling her with their heroic tale of how they saved a malnourished young woman from the bowels of a place too populated with monstrosities for two men, yet alone a single girl to survive.

“It’s not worth it,” she agreed when he concluded his story, though her tone was bitter. “You’re full of shit old man, and if you think you can fool me that easily, you’ve lost any marbles you’ve got left. You’ll be lucky if she even comes to. I won’t be wasting any antibiotics on her. If she’s septic, she’s as good as gone. Maybe you’ll think twice before dragging a bleeding kid through shit next time.”

She was not much older than Sofka, but she certainly felt it. Sofka reminded her of her younger sister, if only because the two were similar in stature. Part of Klara wanted to ensure the girl’s survival as penance for failing to save her sibling, but she knew better than make that call herself. What few antibiotics they had were too valuable to waste on a girl who likely wouldn’t make it through another night.

Shaking her head, Klara clucked her tongue against the roof of her mouth as she swept around to the side of the gurney opposite the trio.

“Since you’re so concerned with her wellbeing, I suppose you should know: the girl is extremely malnourished. Underweight, with visible signs of stunted growth. Consistent with growing up in the tunnels, as unlikely as that might be. She doesn’t appear to have anything infectious, but again, I am only ensuring she stays alive through the least costly means possible. Maybe next time you should leave the strays where you found them.”

As Klara berated the men, Sofka’s fingers twitched. It was likely an involuntary spasm of the girl’s muscles and seemed to be sporadic at best as they remained standing there on either side of her. Klara looked to Katya, focusing foregoing any further interaction with the two males as she addressed her directly.

“If she recovers, there’s a few things you and I should discuss. Things that, if I were in her position, I’d rather not have divulged to men I don’t know. The least we can do is treat her with some sort of dignity because her life has clearly been hell until now,” the Doc said. A frown weighed her lips downward.

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  • 2 weeks later...

@Grimscythe

Grischa gave something of a smirk to the doctor, it wasn't forced, it was genuine smirk. Inside though, Grischa was less than thrilled, more so bitterly impressed. 

There is always one who can see through the bullshit He figured. 

"If she recovers, there's a few things you and I should discuss. Things that, if I were in her position, I'd rather not have divulged to men I don't know. The least we can do is treat her with some sort of dignity because her life has clearly been hell until now." The doctor said, a frown tugging at her lips. 

For a moment the trio was caught off guard, not so much by the change in emotions of the temperamental doctor but by the request, and especially who it was directed at. 

"Uh....s-sure." Katya managed to get out. 

"We'll be back at home I suppose." Misha added and began to walk out, grabbing Grischa by the shoulder and taking the old man out with him before he thought up some bullshit excuse to stay. Through the tent flap they could be seen heading across the platform and for the row of tents reserved for visitors, caravans and stalkers.

With both the men gone, Katya stood in silence for a moment, trying to guess what the doctor felt she could only share with a woman, but that only lead to a few dreaded ideas. 

"So...what is it?" Katya finally asked. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Klara watched the men depart, her eyes simmering with quiet rage. When they were gone from hearing range and the two were left with the invalids in their beds, the medic returned to her station at the rear of the tent, waving Katya over. Dropping into a chair, the woman produced a pack of stale cigarettes.

“You were talking about the tunnels. What do you know about them?” What she had to say about Sofka didn’t seem as dire as it was moments earlier; Klara didn’t care whether the girl lived or died. She was just another casualty of the hell that their life became.

The doctor offered Katya one before she lit up, knowing full well the damage that smoke would do to her lungs. What was the point in longevity, if you had to live in a prison like the metro? “I don’t believe those men of yours. That girl is in rough shape. I doubt she’s going to pull through.”

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  • 4 weeks later...

@Grimscythe

(OOC: Hey, Grim. Sorry for taking so long with this. I have been having trouble with finding motivation for roleplaying on the site but it's back now, more or less, and plus I knew I owed you a reply. So here you are, sorry if it's a bit all over the place. I've edited it alot and added stuff so that no doubt contributed to it if it does feel like that. I'll try and make the next response both come at a better time and also be more coherent.)


Katya eyed the cigarette for a moment before turning it down, shaking her hand and holding her hand up as if to stop it. She wasn’t a smoker. She didn’t even drink too much but smoking made her want to pule. The smell made her head feel strange, it gave her headaches and nausea, so she had learned to avoid them as much as she could. Though in a country where smoking was a common activity even before the war that was easier said than done for the woman.

After turning it down her eyes centered on Sofka, watching her chest rising and falling. She looked like she had crawled through hell, and she pretty much had. Katya wasn’t sure she’d make it, even with the doctors help and it seemed the doctor wasn’t too confident either.

Soon the question came, and Katya, who normally did her best to help authority figures when she could, wasn't sure what to tell the doctor, she still wasn't sure on all the facts, or even who she should side with. 

The men had their own secrets, and she didn’t want to say anything till she knew the entire story, even the bits that Misha and Grischa seemed determined to take to their graves…..
But now she knew she had to do something, she couldn’t just walk out now. There were already enough eyes on her as a refugee from the Redline, giving them more reasons to be suspicious of her wouldn’t be helpful for anyone.

 

"I..." Katya began before letting out a shaky breath, scratching at her forehead nervously as she thought the words over. 

 

Should I lie? Would that even help the situation? Is the girl even from Metro-2?

 

"...A friend of mine, another stalker from Hansa. A guy named Adam found out about them about half a month or so ago while exploring the tunnels near Arbatskaya." Katya began, going through her conversation with Adam back home and also the one earlier with Misha and Grischa, deciding what to tell the doctor and what not to, but it all became jumbled in her mind and forming a lie became next to impossible. 

 

"...He may be a stalker but he, like Grischa, does do some scouting on the side. There's lots of different tunnels that he goes through: side tunnels, bypass ones and the like are uncharted in that part of the metro...so he say's it's good money." Katya began, deciding to be honest for now.

 

"But I doubt you are too interested in that. The tunnels..." She said and sighed, rubbing the back of her neck, struggling to find the words. Most people either assumed she was nuts or weird for the fascination with them, well except for Misha and Adam, Grischa bullied her over it unless it gave them results. 

 

"....Well it's no secret that Metro-2 exists. Hansa, Polis, The Nazi's, the Redline, the Baumansky alliance, everyone has found an entrance or two leading to it's tunnels, but no one has ever found a station, only bunkers connected to the systems, maintenance rooms and the like, but no stations. Well...minus the Rangers obviously, they did find one that lead them straight to D6, that bunker complex they lost to my Redline. Besides D6 though, no one else found anything other than mutants, collapsed or flooded tunnels...or from what I've been told...most times the scouts would just vanish." She explained.

 

"...But then Adam said he had found one, a station. One that connects Metro-2 to our metro, metro-1, the one meant for civilians rather than VIPs." She said, her voice becoming excited, almost childlike at retelling the story. 

"It was amazing to hear...he doesn't lie, or he hasn't so far. He's...like me I guess you could say, he wants the same thing I do....those tunnels may not have saved the president or the prime minister but....well, places like Emerald City...that weird nickname for the stations under Moscow University.... I know people think it's a fairytale, that no one could be alive in those stations, I know it's far fetched to think that the students and professor are still running experiments there...but I believe in that. Hell Polis is doing the exact same, running experiments, making medicine, studying history, math and every other subject that most people don't care about anymore. I don't know why but I do. So does Adam, and maybe Misha...He told me this crazy ass story...a long one too." She began, a small smirk tugging at the corners of her lips until it stopped, the smile dissappering instantly as she remembered who she was talking too, she doubted the good doctor really cared about a story from some stalker, she just wanted answers.

"I'm sure you have heard the stories about Park Pobedy, it's a common ghost story. Even back home on the Redline." Katya said, pointing to herself before thinking over what to explain next. 

"Short version; the tunnels between Arbatskaya and Park Pobedy collapsed soon after the war, no one is sure why though. Some blame the nukes, others earthquakes.” She explained then shrugged, knowing that the answer to what cut Park Pobedy off was lost to time…

"Guess it doesn't matter though. Either way the tunnels between the two stations are collapsed and that part of the city has too much radiation to get to the entrance on the station. The only thing Pobedy had going for it was it's depth and the fact it had an airlock like most stations do…but Adam found some tunnels...some maintenance tunnels you won't find on any map. One that...connects tunnels from the bottom portion of the Redline to the Hansa...or so he say's. He said it was mostly abandoned when he went in, though he did come across some mutants like Mikhail...ehh...Misha and Grischa did. Nosalisis rather than the spider bugs. " She said and decided to jump ahead, knowing the doctor didn't want to hear a novels worth of information. She wanted useful info. 

"Long story short, he eventually found his way to the area around Park Pobedy, came back and told me and then I told Misha and Grischa. They found the tunnels I guess, went through Metro-2 like they had done before.” Katya said, then figured another explanation was due.

 “Yes we have found other tunnels, we found a bunker last year, and from what I understand there are many connected to Metro-2, it’s not just hidden stations. Misha and the old man made some money off of it, I think it's the only reason they keep me around, and let me talk about it so much...my little obsession can find them some profitable places." She said, putting her hands in her pocket and shrugging awkwardly. 

"So...I guess that is where she comes from. Either Park Pobedy or somewhere in Metro-2." 

......

"So, where to now?" Grischa asked, already his tone becoming sarcastic. 

 

"The bar, or do you want to wait around for your new friend Ms. Cannibal?" He asked, though his eyes, angry and fed up more than usual, made it clear he couldn't care less about the answer. 

 

"We can go to the bar, right after you tell me what the hell is your problem with her?" Misha said, crossing his arms, and resting against a pillar, waiting for the yelling that Grischa loved to give during conversations like these. He felt like a child being lectured by his dad, it would go in one ear and out the other after annoying him. 

 

"My problem?" Grischa asked, half yelling, but also half whispering as he looked around, no doubt coming to the conclusion they would have to answer to the police if they learned the two had dragged a cannibal into the station. 

 

"She..." Grischa started, lowering his voice to an actual whisper as he got close to Misha, leaning towards him.

"...tried to fucking eat us!" Grischa said

 

"And she helped us escape!" Misha retorted, going to a whisper himself and giving a dirty look to a man who walked by and then nervously trotted away. Once he was gone, Grischa got in Misha’s face, hoping to scare him, to get him to see reason even if through threats, Misha though held his ground as best he could. Grischa was old, but he had seen what the old man could do, and he didn’t want to deal with that if he could avoid it.

But he didn’t want to side with Grischa either….

Stand your ground….Misha ordered himself as Grischa spoke.

"So we should just forget about it? Forgive? Let bygones be bygones? Have you lost your damned mind? Gone soft?" Grischa asked, his tone becoming more demanding with each question. He figured there had to be something wrong, mentally, with Misha if he was gonna help that girl, that damned cannibal but he couldn’t figure out what.

"I'm returning the favor. She could have easily left us in the cell." Misha said, keeping his cool while the old man continued to look and speak just as angrily as before.

"She also could have easily killed us, we do not owe her anything."

"You're right. We don't. Because we made up for her help by letting her go to the doctor.

"You're....Jesus Christ....you're something else." Grischa said, soon turning away, almost staggering off down the platform, wanting to put as much distance between himself and the young man for now.

"Where are you going?" Misha yelled, now confused more than ever.

"Home!" Grischa yelled back and continued to head for the southern tunnels.

"Home? W-wait you mean back to Arbatskaya?"

"Yes! I've had enough of your bullshit for the next few days. Write for me when you've come to your senses and that girl is someone elses problem. Until that happens, I'm going home. Gonna take a break from stalking for a few days, live with some sane people as well." Grischa explained, leaving the station as Misha stood there, stunned and now thoroughly nervous. He could handle himself without Grischa, he had done it for years before he met the old man, and a few times since then. Arguments and breaks from each other were not uncommon…but without him that only left his unofficial apprentice to watch his back.

Katya.

The old man soon disappeared, jumping off the platform and marching down the tunnel, and no doubt heading for the nearest rail cart to get a rid home. He hadn’t brought much from there, just the shirt that he had ripped up, and the rifle and night vision goggles he lost at Park Pobedy. All he had left was the passport in his pocket and some cartridges.

He had all he needed to leave….

"Well fuck you too then..." Misha whispered, walking off and heading for the tent he shared with Katya. When he got there he flopped down on their cot. He knew he couldn’t leave Park Kultury. It was a gold mine for stalkers, the portion of the Dead City near the station was filled with supplies and scrap, much of it unlooted.

And besides that incentive….there was that girl, that young woman. Sofka.

Why did she help us escape?

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