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Metro: Beyond

Earning Forgiveness 2

Gleb Borodin

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@Morrigan  @Dragon

----Two Weeks Ago-----

The caravan continued on into the darkness, the nearly burnt out lanterns gave them just enough light to see the rails that the railcarts glided across but beyond that it was pitch black, a sight they had all become accustomed to over the past few days. They had been traveling for about a little less than a week by this point. Day after day of moving around the redline, using maintenance tunnels long forgotten to time, bribing patrols and once they left the redline, fighting their way through bandits and mutants in the tunnel.

No one said it would be easy but this was worse than any of them had expected. Their caravan left the redline days ago with sixty people, now only twenty remained. Many of them were either injured, dehydrated, hungry, exhausted or all of the above. Many had wondered if they truly were marching off to a better life somewhere else in the metro and had not been tricked into a death march.

“Halt!” a male voice called out. Stefania raised her head and looked ahead, in front of them was a man in a hoodie with an AK in his hands, behind him were several more guards behind sandbags their machine guns and spotlights focused in on the caravan.

 Are we finally here? She wondered. She was starting to get comfortable, as was her travelling companion. The trip had not been easy for someone as sick as him.

“…Are you Popov?” The caravan leader asked.

“I am.” The man replied a moment later and soon a sense of relief spread throughout what remained of the group as Popov walked over.

“Welcome everyone!” He said. “Welcome. Please, get your things, my men will help you inside.” He explained and as more soldiers walked ahead Popov, as Stefania had been told, went directly for her part of the caravan and stopped alongside their railcart.

“Mr. Antipin? Are you alright?” He asked. The old man had been resting on the floor of the railcart as best he could, he could barley walk and was perhaps the weakest out of the caravans people.

“I’ve been better…” He whispered and Popov nodded.

“Do you think you’re still up for what you discussed with Andrew?” He asked and Antipin managed to weakly shake his head. Andrew the Black Smith was the man who had helped them set up this caravan, a former weapons maker from the Armory turned smuggler, with people being what he and his friends, men such as Popov, would smuggle out of the Redline. They had been doing it for years from what Stefania had been told.

“No?” Popov asked.

“No…she will…” He muttered weakly. Stefania didn’t argue, they had agreed days ago.

“…Does she know your daughter?” He asked and Antipin nodded.

“We’re best friends…” Stefania explained.

“Do you know where Yekaterina is?” Antipin asked weakly.

“Not yet, but I’ve sent word to friends of mine.” Popov added. “They can find anyone, and quickly too. When we find her we’ll decide what to do next.”

---- One week Ago----

“Ah, Stefania; come in.” Popov said, holding the tent flaps aside and walking back behind his desk.

“So…did you do it, did you finally find her?” Stefania asked after taking a seat, hoping he would not be wasting her time again.

“I did.” Popov said and Stefania breathed a sigh of relief, but it was short lived.

“I have…good news and bad news though.” He explained. “Well bad news for a communist such as yourself.” He clarified then shrugged and continued “The good news is she is alive as you suspected, she made it out of the Redline and is alive; last my sources checked anyway and it was pretty recent too. A few days back in fact.” Popov explained, leaning back in his chair, and going through a cabinet nearby.

“Well…then what’s the bad news?”

“She’s not in an independent station or at Oberon as we had hoped. She’s at Serpukhovskaya—in Hansa.” Popov explained, finally finding the home-made map he had been looking for, unrolling it and pointing to a station, his index finger landing on a station just north of Hansa’s southernmost station of Tulskaya. While Popov had expected a more animated reaction, Stefania merely looked at the map in confusion.

“W…what is she doing there?” She asked

“Living her life, I presume. From what I have been told she’s been working as something of an assistant to a stalker, well two stalkers actually.” Popov began. “One of them…a Mikhail Turgenev seems to be her boyfriend in fact from what we’ve gathered.” Popov explained and Katya felt almost as if she had been punched in her stomach at the boyfriend part but she kept that to herself.

“She’s working for those…capitalists then? Living as one of them?” She almost spat out and Popov nodded.

“Tell me about these…men of hers.” Stefania asked.

“Well Mr. Turgenev is in something of a partner ship with a Gregory Blok, another stalker slash explorer from the Arbat Confederation who sort of moves between the Arbat and Serpukhovskaya every couple of days; they both scavenge from a neighborhood on the surface called The Dead City. Place is a nightmare but a gold mine for stalkers. When their not picking that place apart they go to other parts of the city as well; Mikhail from what I can tell is nothing special.” Popov said. “But Mr. Blok is, he’s actually rather infamous in both the Hansa and the Arbat and other locations as well.” Popov explained and once more Stefania was confused, but also concerned.

“A criminal?” She asked. “Is…is she with them willingly?” Stefania asked soon after, hoping she misunderstood.

“Blok is not a criminal" Popov said seriously, noticing her nervousness. "At least not officially. He keeps finding loopholes and hiring others to move things for him; we’ve even used him to get our weapons a while back actually but only through an intermediary at the armory. As far as I can tell he’s more of a weird combination of stalker, arms dealer and smuggler, but despite all of that from what I can tell he’s not violent unless need be--he’s not a murder essentially is what I'm saying--he’s not a kidnapper either; so I’m sure she’s there of her own volition.” Popov explained, trying to come off as reassuring.

Stefania stifled another breath of relief, still suspicious about these men of hers…at the same time at least they knew where she was, hopefully. After a few more moments of staring at the map in silence, remembering how far they’d have to travel she looked back up Popov.

“When can we head out?” She asked.

----Present Day------

It had been the better part of a week since Misha had been banned from entering Polis. In that time a wedge had been driving between the members of the family.

“Are you coming, Mr. Turgenev?” Grischa called from the platform, Misha forced down the urge the tell the old man to knock it off. He was in his tent, still getting his radiation suit on and his pack loaded, normally Katya would help or at the least make conversation as he got everything together but she was still giving him the cold shoulder…mostly. In the past few days she had began to talk again, look at him more, she was seemingly coming around but still pissed off all the same.

The same could not be said for Grischa, the old bastard had become all business, more so than usual, the usual chit-chat in between business ventures was gone, most of what could be considered corner stones of their friendship were gone. Grischa treated Misha more and more like a soldier everyday, and himself more like a commander.

Fine, if that’s how he wants it then fine…Misha thought, finishing with his radiation suit and quickly throwing everything into his pack, staring at Katya who just sat on their bed in silence. Misha sighed and grabbed his RPK and slung it over his shoulder and began to walk out.

“I’ll be back in a few hours he said.”

“Misha…” She muttered and he stopped, hoping she’d say something, accept his apology, ask to come with, anything.

“…Just…be careful, please?” She asked, while Misha was disappointed that it wasn’t more, he also felt he couldn’t complain. It was something at least. At least she still cared to some extent.

“I will.” Misha told her with a nod and then left, heading for the stations airlock.

“Finally.” Grischa said, to which Misha glared at him but the old man, unshakable as always, just moved on ahead as if the dirty look meant nothing at all and looked at the two other stalkers present, Adam and Vasha. Both had worked with Misha and Grischa before, but they normally operated independently. They would need the extra help this time though, and not just for what they had found up top a few days ago; but also due to the lack of trust between Misha and the old man.

“Everyone ready?” Grischa asked once more, getting affirmative replies from Adam and Vasha, and before Misha could even respond the old man turned back around to tell the station’s main airlock guard to open up the gate.

“Heard you basically got grounded last week?” Vasha whispered and gave a soft but devious chuckle.

“Shut up!” Misha almost shouted back, the noise of the airlock gate opening up muffling most of it.

“Alright, it’s open; get moving!” The guard ordered and the stalkers threw their gas masks on, activated their watches and made their way through the airlock which quickly closed behind them and they began their ascent up the decrepit escalators, up towards the surface.

----Meanwhile at Polis-----

“How much for the tent at the far end of the platform?” Gleb asked.

“That one…ten bullets?” The ‘hotel’ owner asked. In all four of Polis’s station there were little groupings of tents that made up ‘hotels’ for travelers. Despite the stations opulence they were not exactly five stars, the tents were old, very close together, some even had holes, but they’d be good enough for the travelers who’d be at the station for only a day or two anyway and they'd have just enough privacy for him.

“Ten? Just for the night” Gleb asked then put the bullets on the table. “Gonna make me go bankrupt with how much I’ve already spent getting here. Every little bit counts these days…”

“You can try another station; they’ll ask for more.” The owner replied and Gleb nodded before muttering a thanks and heading to the tent. Waiting.

“May I come in, sir?” A female voice asked from outside the tent and he opened up the flap.

“What for?” Gleb asked expectantly.

“I got some new sheets for your bed.” She explained and Gleb nodded.


“Alright, come in.” Gleb ordered and the woman entered, laying some blankets down, and quickly sliding a folder across the bed to him, which Gleb quickly grabbed and looked through before looking outside the tent. Most people were already heading to the bar or going to bed, and the tent’s location gave it a bit more privacy than others but not much.

“I didn’t think it’d be you, Gleb.” The woman explained. “I thought they’d get me for this…but they told me they wanted you.” She continued.

“Yeah.” Gleb continued skimming the folders contents once more. “Jurisdiction, as always Natasha.” He added. “In an odd way.” He continued.

“…It was someone from the Redline then? Rather than someone from Polis?” She asked, their employers only told them so much, just enough for their job. Asking another person in the know was one of the few ways for people like them to get more information if they wanted.

“So it seems.” He said. “But that’s only part of it. They want me to… ‘have a word’ with Belikov. One of the Kshatriya here I believe.

“The Kshatriya chief, yes.” Natasha confirmed and Gleb nodded.

“Who will come after him?” Gleb asked and Natasha gave a small smirk.

“For right now it’ll be some higher-ranking members of the Polis council, a Dmitry Yahontov being the most likely. Took some time for him to see reason.” She muttered softly and Gleb nodded again.

“As for Belikov, how can I get him to see reason?” Gleb asked.

“Check the back.” Natasha explained and Gleb flipped through the papers in the folder, finding a picture of a young woman and a small document.

“Nadia Belikova....pretty girl…” Gleb muttered, knowing where this was going.

“His niece. Only family he’s got from what I’ve heard.” She explained and Gleb nodded.

“Good…” Gleb muttered.

“He there now?” He asked a moment later and Natasha nodded.

“Last I checked anyway, just before I came here.” She explained then pointed out the set of large wooden double doors that was the entrance to Belikov’s office.

“He’s too comfortable it seems, unlike the last chief there’s no one outside his office most days.” She whispered and Gleb nodded.

“When you’re done how will you leave?” She asked quietly.

“Same way I came in. Thank you, Natasha.” Gleb said and left the tent with his small satchel and made his way across the platform then to the other side of the station.


“…Hey, what the hell—who?” Belikov started when the doors opened up quickly then stopped when he saw who it was. 

“…G-Gleb?” Belikov asked as Gleb closed the door.

“What…what are you doing here?” He asked nervously, his eyes already darting around the room as Gleb walked over and sat down at the chair in front of Belikov’s desk. A thousand different possibilities began to play in Belikov’s mind.

“…No.” He began and Gleb kept silent. He knew Gleb well, and his 'employers' as he called them. Many knew them in the metro, especially those like Belikov...do a favor or two for them and they'd pull some strings, they got him this job after all. 

“No. No. There’s no way they would. Not me…not now.” Belikov muttered, an overconfident smile forming on his face which soon disappeared when Gleb tossed the picture from the folder down onto the desk. Belikov felt his heart stop momentarily, and his face went white as he looked back at Gleb desperately, already beginning to beg the younger man when Gleb finally spoke up.

“Those tunnels.” He said, and for a moment confused Belikov. “You know the ones. Those ‘maintenance’ tunnels.”

God damn you, Grischa!

“Just…please, leave her alone—I…I’ll tell you whatever—” Belikov stuttered, once more returning to his begging.

“I’ve been told it was a woman who found them. I’ve been told her name was Yekaterina Antipina? She is supposedly a refugee from the Redline. Came with some stalkers, one your familiar with? A…Gregory Blok?” Gleb asked and Belikov nodded quickly.

“Good. We know their names but tracking them has been harder. You seem to be a friend of this Mr. Blok. I’m guessing where he goes, they do?” Gleb asked and Belikov nodded once more.

"Y-yes..." Belikov stuttered. "Their...business partners--more like a family actually." Belikov explained weakly

“Good. Where is he?”

“I…” Belikov began, his mind was boggled by now; what should’ve been easy to answer escaped his mind and he began to remember conversations, pointless ones from years ago; anything Grischa had briefly mentioned about anything that could count as a home for a man like him.

“I…He’s—He’s at—” Belikov continued.

“Enough.” Gleb said calmly, silencing Belikov again. Gleb gave him a stern look then nodded to the picture of Nadia.

“Look at the picture, look at your niece. I know what she looks like, she is a pretty girl. Beautiful even, I bet she's already caught the eye of a man or two around Polis." Gleb began and Belikov, almost out of instinct, nodded.

"I know where her tent is. I know her schedule." He continued, staring Belikov dead in the eyes, calm as ever while the old man could hardly keep still in his seat.

"I know where she works, I know where she spends her off hours, which restaurant she likes to frequent when she can afford it, I know that you know damn well where this Mr. Blok is, and I know that Ms. Antipina is with him, most likely anyway, as you have implied.” Gleb explained. “So, you have ten seconds when I’m done talking, ten seconds to say whatever little shithole station their in. Or I will leave this office and I will find your niece, Nadia Belikova, whether it’s at her job, at her favorite restaurant, or most likely her tent while she is asleep and I will make sure she is no longer the pretty girl that I keep saying she is." Gleb said, this time becoming more forceful, his tone becoming more sincere and stern as Belikov continued to try and plead and was once more cut off by Gleb.

"And that’s if I choose to let her live, and you know the power men such as myself have, Belikov. You know that if I so choose so I can do that, and there is nothing that you, or Valkov, or Marcianus, or even the Polis council can do to stop it. We know everyone’s little secrets, we know what can win people over and what terrifies them, and if all else fails we learn their lives and when we can end them--So, just to remind you, when I’m done you will have ten seconds to tell me where the people I want live, or I will get up out of this chair and find your niece, and even if you grow a spine and grab that pistol from your desk, they’ll simply send another after you and your niece. So, as of right now, the clock is ticking.” Gleb said, leaning back in his chair slightly and going silent once more, all the while Belikov’s heart continued to beat, louder and louder, pulsing in his ears until it was deafening.

“…Serpukhovskaya…” Belikov managed to weakly mutter out.

“Serpukhovskaya? The Hansa station north of Tulskaya?” Gleb asked, wanting to be sure before he left, already standing up once he saw Belikov give a weak and defeated nod. Belikov could hardly think. He couldn’t lose Nadia…she was all he had left besides his job in life.

“See, was that so hard?” Gleb asked with a smirk and Belikov glared at him angrily but still to terrified to do much else.

“Will…there be anything else?” Belikov managed to say through gritted teeth and Gleb just nodded.

“Just one thing…” He muttered.


Quickly now, quickly, quickly! Gleb’s thoughts commanded, his tried his best to hurry along but not to look as if he was trying to get out of Polis in a hurry. He had done this countless times before but every time he tried to make his escape, paranoia and doubt would set in and he felt as if he were on display for the whole metro to see.

He would take the normal tunnel, the one he took to get here. He had feared that that girls discovery of it would put everything into lock down but it seems the Kshatriya just wanted everything to go back to normal and other than a simple lock there was no guards hanging around the entrance to the ‘maintenance’ room. The key to the lock had come from Belikov’s desk, quickly he undid the lock, pocketed the key and hurried into the maintenance room, closing the door behind him before any passerby saw him and began to make his way down the tunnel. It didn’t take long to find the false wall and begin his journey back home. He'd have plenty of time, and more importantly resources back there to find make it to Serpukhovskaya.


Natasha had been ‘working’ as a maid for Polis for a while now, almost two years. No one really paid to much attention to her, no one would raise an eyebrow at a maid heading to Chief Belikov’s office. Still though she made her way to the office quickly, opened the door and let it close behind her.

Good job, Gleb. Natasha thought as she walked over to check Belikov’s body, feeling his neck for a pulse and finding none. Part of her had feared Belikov would fight back, pull a gun or make some noise, call for help or something, even with his niece on the line but thankfully it seemed Gleb got through to him. Soon her job would truly begin.

 She gave the office a once over, the same with Belikov’s body. Nothing seemed too suspicious. No blood, nothing knocked over, no signs of a struggle. Gleb got in and out cleanly thankfully. If it all worked out it’ll look like Belikov had a heart attack.

With that…it’s time to get to work. She thought and began to breath, heavily at first then more forcefully then went for the door as quickly as she could, forcing it open.

“Help!” She screamed out into the station, the few passersby soon rushing over.

----A few hours later, Serpukhovskaya---

The gasmask was perhaps the worst part of getting undressed due to his injuries. He had returned from the Dead City was cuts and stab wounds all along his torso and shoulders, those hurt like hell but were well on their way to completely healing over the last few weeks, most of them weren’t as bad as they appeared when he had to escape the dead city last time. Even now they still stung but they were nothing compared to the pulsating pain that would shoot throughout his face and then cause it to throb for a while afterwards, sending out more little pin-pricks and a sharp pain afterwards.

He practically had to force himself to continue, taking a deep breath and gritting through the pain, Misha had pulled off his gasmask upon returning. The decontamination process wasn’t as bad but water and cleaning products didn’t exactly feel good to the cuts on his face either.

Usually, before all that nonsense with Joe and Polis, they’d all go to the bar after getting changed into their day clothes. Or rather, Grischa would take them but now there were no talks of going to the bar, no jokes or happy conversations or thankfulness for return from the surface safe and sound once more, there was no comradery, no Grischa had simply told them to get going while he looked over what they had collected, saying he would find a buyer for all the fuel, scrap, spear parts and ammunition they had found and then send every man their cut. No one tried to challenge it, there was no arguing with Grischa when he was still this pissed. So, everyone returned home. Misha had been dreading his return home for…the first time in his life probably, now that he thought about it anyway.

We gotta fix this…He thought as he rounded the pillar on the platform, soon finding his tent…and Katya still inside. She had a small book in her hands and looked up at him and after a brief moment gave a small smile and Misha felt himself relax. After their argument last week he had found himself more nervous around here. He could handle the anger and annoyance that came with walking on eggshells around Grischa, when it came to Katya though…all it brought was pain. He was more angry at himself then how she had reacted.

Who could blame her after all?

Misha entered the tent and forced a smile at Katya, it hurt to smile. Anything with his nose or face was a chore now; and no doubt would be for however long it took everything to heal. Once he got in he put his RPK in the corner and then zipped up the tent and began to strip down his radiation suit and begin to get dressed.

“What are you reading?” He asked as he looked around for his shirt, she shrugged and flipped the book over. Despite Hansa having many impressive libraries in most of their stations, Serpukhovskaya was one that had very little in the way of well maintained books, many were like Katya’s at the station’s library; missing pages and covers, you’d have to ask around and wait for either a stalker or a caravan to bring in books that had not fallen apart or had begun to rot unlike in the rest of Hansa, where some stations had printing presses and were actively making and selling them left and right.

“It…seems to be a biology textbook.” She said and Misha smirked.

“You thinking of becoming a biologist then?” He asked and she gave a small chuckle.

“Maybe—I think I could be.” She said then shrugged. “Mostly I was just going through the library and just flipped through it…then I found this.” She said and turned the page to him, inside was an incredibly faded picture of a large animal; one he hadn’t seen in years.

“It’s an…elephant?” He asked and then nodded to himself after he made out what was left of the picture on the page and Katya nodded back.

“Yeah.” She replied. “…you said you were…nine? Right? When the war happened?” She asked and after throwing his shirt on, Misha nodded, his mind going back to July of 2013, the last time he lived on the surface rather than made quick expeditions to it. The age gap between the couple had been weird at first, for Misha at least. Misha had been born on the otherside of Moscow, north west of what is now Hansa territory, back in 2005. He had plenty of memories of life on the surface, of the sun, the fresh air, snow, rain, ice cream, cars everywhere. All the things Katya had never, and now that he thought about, would probably never see, except with a few exceptions such as the surface during her brief training runs years back. She had been born underground, according to her the day after the wars first anniversary. The tunnels were all she knew, and much like the age gap these two different life experiences was weird, at first, they learned to make do despite it; and in a weird way it was a plus to have conversations like this with her. While many in the metro would go into bouts of melancholy when reminiscing or crying over the world, they had all lost, Misha actually enjoyed talking about the old world, why he could not say. He missed it sure, but he supposed he was not the type to cry over it.

“Well a few months shy, but yeah; pretty close to nine.” He explained.

“…Did you ever go to the zoo?” She asked and he smirked and nodded, finishing with his clothes, and sitting next to her on the bed.

“I did, a few times. My family…wasn’t really well off, basically dirt poor but we would go to the zoo when we could.” He explained then continued on, knowing where her conversation would go.

“…I can kind of remember the elephants. They were huge, obviously, taller than those city buses you might find on the surface. Slow as hell.” He explained. “Smelled.” He continued with a smirk and a shake of his head. “I liked other animals though…” He explained, thinking back to his few trips to the zoo with his parents, there was a few specific ones he liked more than others.

“Like?” She asked and he shrugged.

“The monkeys, penguins, a lot of the birds actually…wolves, foxes.” He said, wondering which of those she’d be familiar with. She merely nodded and was silent for a moment.

“….I’m sorry, Misha.” She muttered and the barley visible smirk that had formed on his face disappeared and they both became tense again.

“It’s fine—” He began to tell her.

“It’s not.” She said back, calmly, seemingly having thought out what she had to say and accounted for Misha trying to brush it aside.

“I…I shouldn’t have lost it on you.” She began. “And I definitely shouldn’t have smacked you.” She said. “No one should, I…I just…” She sighed and shrugged. “I was angry…afraid.” She explained.

“I fucked up.” Misha muttered.

“Yeah…you did, but I still shouldn’t have hit you. I’m sorry…I really am.” She said, a tired but hopeful look in her eyes as she became silent, waiting for him to either accept her apology or to keep justifying her actions. She doubted he’d tell her to fuck off but she was afraid of what this would do to them. Misha remained quiet for a bit, thinking everything over. Neither of them were good at apologies, never had been for the few years they’ve been together.

At least we’re trying…He thought.

“….Do you still think I’m an idiot?” He asked after a few more moments of silence, giving her a small, almost childish smirk and she laughed a little in response and nodded.

“Sometimes…but not all the time.” She explained.

“Reckless. Reckless would be the best way to describe you sometimes.” She said a moment later and he nodded.

“Yeah—that sounds like me.” He said and she made him turn his head to look at her, looking over the bandages on his face.

“Does it still hurt?” She asked and he nodded slightly.

“Little bit…”

“Just a little bit?” She asked.

“…Ok, more than a little.” He muttered back after a moment as she took her hands away from his face after deciding against touching his wounds.

“…Think a drink might help with that?” She asked.

“It might.”

“It’s on me.” She added.

“…Alright, I’m in.” He told her.

“Well…come on then.” She said, taking his hand and stepping back as he pushed himself up off their bed and she pulled down the zipper on the tent flap and walking out with him and beginning to make their way down the platform.

“Hold up!—Mr. Turgenev!” Someone shouted from behind Misha, who, along with Katya, stopped and turned to see a man in a hoodie and an AK slung over his shoulder approaching them with a young blond woman in tow behind him.

“…Do I know you?” Misha asked as the man came over with his companion. By now, Katya had already begun to ignore the conversation between both of the men, and the words the woman began to say that interrupted their conversation also fell on deaf airs. For Katya the world stood still, and the face of the woman was one she had never expected to see ever again.

“S…Stefania?” Katya muttered. Her eyes had to be playing tricks on her.

“Yes…Katya, I—” The blonde woman began to say before the man with her spoke up.

“…Would it be possible to continue this somewhere else?” He asked. “The bar maybe?” He added, looking off in its general direction.

“I think you should explain it now.” Misha told the man sternly.

“I will. At the bar. Trust me, we’ll be needing some drinks.” The man explained, taking Stefania by the hand and beginning to head down the platform, before Misha could react Katya followed.

“You know them?” Misha asked, hurrying after her.

“All will be explained soon.” The man replied. They continued down the platform then stopped again.

“Mr. Blok!” The man called out, Grischa had been walking back towards his tent but stopped just as Misha had at the call of his name. He ignored Misha, for once not out of malice but seemingly genuine confusion on who this man could be.

“What’s all this?” Grischa asked, gesturing to the tiny crowd in front of him.

“Come with us to the bar—I need to speak with all of you.” The man explained and Grischa, after a brief moment of thought nodded and gestured for the man to lead on.

What the hell Grischa!? Misha wanted to shout, when they had stopped for the old man he had hoped he would help stop whatever the hell was going on not agree to this weirdo’s need for a conversation. The man lead them towards the bar without another word, the little crowd following behind him the entire way.

----Meanwhile at Polis---

“Welcome back, corporal. How’s Riga doing?” Valkov asked Voloyda walked into his tent. Valkov had sent him to deal with some bandits in Riga’s tunnels, a small group but they proved to be craftier than he had expected. He had hoped for a quick mission, get to Riga, get to the tunnels, off some bandits, go to the bar, be the local hero then spend the next day or so returning to Polis.

“Could’ve been better, sir.” Voloyda said bluntly. “The intel was off, it wasn’t a group of ‘five or so’ as we heard. It was more like ten, maybe twelve. A lot smarter than your usual bandits, came across more trip wires and traps then I think I’ve seen in my life. Some crazy mother-fucker with a Shambler, high as hell, nearly took my head off with it.” Voloyda continued.

“Jesus” Valkov muttered, judging by Voloyda’s tone none of it was exaggerated, then again the Ranger wasn’t one to do that anyway…well too much at least.

“Oh it gets worse. Trying to sneak through the place was impossible. I only took down two of the sentries before the whole tunnel and the maintenance room they lived in turned into a warzone. Riga’s militia had to get involved. They lost two guys trying to save my sorry ass.”

“God damn it.” Valkov sighed and Voloyda nodded.

“Well…we got it done in the end. Those tunnels are safe again, at least from bandits. That anomaly between Alekseyevskaya and Riga seems intent on staying there.” Voloyda commented then shrugged. “If you can, send me with someone else next time, unless we know for sure.” Voloyda said and Valkov nodded.

“I’ll try…well, you got it done like you said. Hopefully nothing else comes up today, I say you’ve earned a break for now.” Valkov explained and dismissed Voloyda soon after who left the tent and returned to the barracks and stowed his gear in his locker before walking into the rest of Polis, it was late and he could use a drink right about now

He stopped on the tracks and looked over at the platforms that contained the home for the more well to do Rangers. It had been a few days since they interrogated Joseph, and Joe, as usual was angry; he considered heading over and seeing if she was home. She wasn’t on a mission last he heard, a drink could do her good if she was willing, he thought and began to head over.

“Help!” Someone shouted, an old woman; her voice echoing throughout most of the station, easily heard by most due to how late it was. Voloyda turned, soon finding the source of the screaming at Chief Belikov’s office. Voloyda began to sprint over.

“Help, I think he’s dead!” With that many who had been staring began to crowd around Belikov’s office just as Voloyda entered, making his way past the maid and walking over to the old man, checking his pulse and finding none.

God damn it. Voloyda thought, looking around for what could have killed the man but saw nothing.

Did the fat ass finally have a heart attack? He asked himself and kept looking around. It’s what it seemed like, there was no cuts, no bruising, no blood or anything else. It’s like he just died. The maid continued with her screaming, asking passersby and the crowd to get some help. As Voloyda walked back over to the maid to calm her down some in the crowd ran off, some saying they were gonna get Valkov, others to find Dagonet while some began to hurry off to find the first Kshatriya they could get their hands on.

Guess it’s back to work then…Voloyda thought before turning his attention back to the maid.

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Joe had just gotten back from the bar with a bottle of Vodka in her hand when the commotion started. "Ah fuck," she muttered attempting to ignore it as she was headed back to her place. It wasn't the first time that someone made a commotion for no reason and the Kshatriya could take care of it. It was supposed to be their jurisdiction after all. As she neared her place the kid that ran off to get someone ran into her.

"Belikov is dead," she said.

It took a lot of energy to not say 'serves him right... the fat bastard'. But she nodded. She figured that was what the commotion was about. So she kept her stride to her place and put the vodka inside before checking to be sure her pistol was loaded and she headed over to find Voloyda standing over the man's corpse with a maid.

"Is he really dead?" she asked the other ranger as she knelt down beside him to look him over.


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"Looks like it." Voloyda said, by now Natasha had calmed down and sat down at a bench nearby, still seemingly shaken by the whole thing.

It didn't take long for the Kshatryia to show up and to begin to move the crowd back by the time Joe walked over to Belikov's body.

"I heard her screaming..." Voloyda said, walking over to Joe. "The maid's...then I checked him. 

"I--I think he had a heart attack!" Natasha called out to the rangers and Voloyda nods.

"Seems likely. I didn't see any cuts on him, bruising or anything; so I doubt we have a murder." Voloyda explained. "I heard someone in the crowd say they were gonna get Dag, and another said they'll get Valkov." Voloyda said and then sighed. "This is gonna be a fun night I can just tell already...."


For the first time in all of Misha's years living at Serpukhovskaya the bar had very few customers and the few there seemed to be well on their way to being drunk already. It didn't take them long to find a table and for everyone to get seated, Grischa and Misha doing their best to put as much space between each other as they could. The man gave the bar tender a rather charitable amount of bullets and then returned with a box containing five bottles of shroom vodka and some glasses stacked into each other.

"So, mr....?" Grischa began.

"Popov." The man said.

"Mr. Popov." Grischa nodded. "What is it that you need?...I doubt you just wanted to buy us some drinks." Grischa said and Popov gave a nod in response.

"Well, I'm mostly just a guide. For Stefania here." 

"Yes...Stefania." Misha chimed in. "Forgive my bluntness; but who are you?" 

"She's my friend." Katya began, still seemingly in shock. "Before I left the Redline....how--how did you find me?" Katya asked, looking at both Popov and Stefania, Popov spoke first.

"We have our connections." Popov explained. "Some stalkers, some rangers, former...colleagues of yours at the armory." Popov began and Grischa nodded.

"Oh. The Armory." He muttered, by now Misha was beginning to put the pieces together himself. 

"Raikov." Misha muttered and Grischa nodded.

"It's possible." Popov answered. "But through these connections we found you."

"Yeah--But why!?" Katya demanded.

"Stefania." Popov said and gestured to her and Stefania nodded.

"You're father, Katya." Stefania replied, shifting in her chair nervously, thinking how best to continue, Katya for her part seem to surprised to respond. "And soon you're mother too, they're at Dostoyevskaya. Alot of Okhotny-Ryad has been leaving the Redline, finding new homes at independent stations and other places..." Stefania said then looked around the bar.

"...Among capitalists being one of them--Hansa...of all places..." She muttered.

"...I thought Dostoyevskaya was destroyed." Misha said.

"Good to see that lie still works..." Popov muttered. "Hansa left it to rot...we've moved into part of it." Popov continued. 

"And my father's there?!" Katya asked, both panicked and excited and Stefania nodded.

"Yes, and you're mom will be too but--"

"We can we go?" Katya asked.

"What?" Misha asked soon after.

Like hell were going anywhere with these two!

"I'm going to see them!" Katya declared. "So when?" 

"It'll take a few days." Popov warned. 

"So you're going then." Grischa said.

Like hell! Misha wanted to scream but found himself unable to. Part of him knew this was the right thing to allow but at the same time this was all so sudden. Besides Raikov how the hell did this Popov find them, why did this Stefania and Katya's family track her down now; years later. 

"Yes." Katya said once more.

"We can leave later tonight. It should take a day or two, depending on the tunnels we use. Either of you coming?" Popov asked, looking at Misha and Grischa who began to glare at each other, neither looking forward to working together again.

"...It'd be better if they go." Grischa said, saddening and surprising both Katya and Misha but neither tried to change his mind.

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Joe looked up to Volodya. "People don't always just die in the Metro. Not like this...." she said to him with a frown. "Do you even recognize her?" she asked quietly glancing to the woman that was the "maid". Joe certainly didn't and while she wasn't the best with knowing people she at least remembered faces and that wasn't one she recognized. "Keep an eye on her. I don't want her to sneak away while we clean this up."


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@Morrigan  @Dragon

Voloyda eyed the seemingly still shaken maid for a moment before shaking his head in response to Joe’s question. There were many maids and butlers and other such servants in Polis, much like the Kshatriya and the Brahman, the ‘servants’ or the Shudras as they were known in Polis, were their own caste; as such there were many of them, still though Voloyda tried to make friends and get to know everyone he could in Polis when not busy with the rangers, and this ‘maid’ didn’t look familiar in the slightest.

“Some people said they’d be going for Dag and Valkov earlier…when they do they can look into whoever she is…” Voloyda muttered, looking back at the crowd the Kshatriya were keeping from getting too close.

“If they can get through the crowd that is…” He said.


Neither Katya nor Misha could really say they were surprised by Grischa’s response.

“It would be better…” Misha said seriously.

“Still…I…” Misha began, trying to figure out what he wanted to say. Realistically he knew there was no way to stop Katya from leaving; anyone in her spot would do the same, he would. Who wouldn’t want to reunite with their family after years away from home?

But does it need to be alongside these two? He wondered. Katya claimed this Stefania was her friend and had also escaped the Redline. That part wasn’t so hard to believe, and he trusted Katya on the friendship part, why would she lie after all? But the rest just seemed hard to believe. Dostoeyevskaya was long believed to be destroyed early on in the metro’s history by Hansa to keep mutants out of the rest of the Ring and various other independent stations that Dostoeyevskaya was close to. On many maps it was either crossed out or simply not included…now their learning that was a lie? —And for what, a hideaway for Redline refugees? How far did that lie go, did Hansa know, and if so why? Hansa accepted Redline refugees, Katya herself being a prime example and even if they did not there were plenty of other places that would, Polis, Arbat Confederation, 1905, and Oberon, especially Oberon. There were so many questions yet Misha doubted he’d get any answers any time soon. All of this just seemed…off for lack of a better term. To make matters worse this Popov was not as trustworthy as he’d probably like to be. He claimed to have found Misha and the rest through ‘connections’, Andrey Raikov from the Armory being one. The last time Misha had seen that man was months ago with that Maksym kid from Polis. He had not set foot in the Armory since, and meetings with Raikov were rare to begin with, Raikov was incredibly tight lipped with his own connections so how this Popov managed to get not just Misha’s name but also his home out of Raikov and other stalkers was not only incredibly hard to believe but all the more worrying if true. Misha was not trying to hide from anyone but learning he was essentially being tracked unnerved him to no end…

“I know you’re…worried.” Katya said. “But I need to go, Misha.”

“I know, I know, I just—” Misha replied but was cut off by Popov.

“Don’t trust me?” Popov asked, and after a moment Misha nodded.

“I know this is all…going rather quickly.” Popov said. “But I’m truly just here to help. I’m friends with the man who helped Katya’s father out of the Redline, and Stefania too; I’m just here to help out a friend of a friend. Nothing more.” Popov explained, his tone completely sincere.

“Who was it?...My father’s ‘friend’?” Katya asked. Katya had, when she eventually came to trust Misha and Grischa all those years ago, told them about her time in the Redline and how she escaped. While her escape was more sudden and done on her own, she had been looking for an escape before hand; and there was a name well known in parts of the Redline and even in parts of Hansa, an old man who helped people out of the Redline through numerous methods.

“A name I’m sure you’re familiar with…Andrew The Blacksmith.” Popov said, to which Katya nodded.

“I had heard the name come up occasionally back in the Redline. Saying his name could get you in a lot of trouble back home but it would always find some way into conversations at some point or another. The man is…infamous back home.” Katya explained.

“And with good reason.” Popov added. “He’s been helping people escape for most of our time underground, and with most of the Redline in anarchy he’s been getting more people out; your parents being some of them, along with Stefania here.” Popov explained and nodded to the girl who had mostly kept her eyes fixed on Katya for most of the conversation. She seemed to be in deep thought and was silent for a moment before speaking up.

“…Can I tell her?” Stefania asked nervously.
“Tell me what?” Katya asked.

“Might as well…” Popov said with a hint of sadness and began to pour some of the shroom vodka into a glass.

“Your dad, Katya he’s sick.” Stefania began and a look of horror soon formed on Katya’s face.

“With what?” She asked quickly.

“Cancer.” Popov said and placed the drink in front of Katya, who by now seemed to be going into shock, as Popov took off his backpack and began to root around in it while the conversation continued.

“Oh God…” Katya whispered, soon finding it hard to speak.

“You didn’t think of telling her sooner?” Misha asked angrily, glaring at Stefania.

“I was going to but Popov wanted to move this to the bar!” Stefania shot back.

“For this reason.” Popov said and gestured to the drink, Popov moved it closer to Katya and with some reluctance she drank it before beginning to cry weakly. Misha pulled her close to him, trying to hug her but it didn’t seem to do much, she hunched forward, resting her arm and head on the table after pushing the glass ahead of her, continuing to cry into her sleeve as she did.

“There is some good news.” Popov began. “Right now, it doesn’t seem that bad…we may be just a hideout but we’ve smuggled in lots of medicine, and he’s been handling it well. He’s still weak, but not knocking on deaths door thankfully.” Popov explained.

“When can we leave?” Katya asked once more, now more determined then ever.

“Later tonight, as I said. There’s still the problem of figuring out our route.” Popov explained, once more digging around in his pack before pulling out a handmade map of the metro and, after moving the glass and the bottle gently onto the floor, he spread it out over the entire table. The map, like many others, had Dostoeyevskaya scratched out, but still clearly marked, along with a few extra tunnels. Misha’s guest was maintenance tunnels along with tunnels from parts of the metro’s construction that had never been finished before the bombs. There were lines in colored pencil from various different angles all heading for Dostoeyevskaya and a few other stations.

“Stefania and I took a maintenance tunnel to Trubnaya then to Tsvetnoy Boulevard before heading to Novoslobodskaya and taking a Hansa rail cart here.” Popov explained, to which Stefania said something under her breath, something along the lines of ‘hellholes’, to which Misha silently agreed. Trubnaya was relatively decent, it kept to itself but was connected to Tsvetnoy Boulevard, the metros own little Sodom and Gomorrah, a place that made of prostitutes, drug lords and criminals. Many stalkers had been there at some point in there carrier, with its reputation and location neither of the two connected stations had many trade partners and relied on stalkers for much of their supply needs; the whores and the vodka being especially cheap didn’t hurt either…

“I say we take a rail cart back that way.” Popov said, much to Stefania’s dread.

“Perhaps a backup plan is in order?” She asked.

“Well…there’s a few places.” Popov began, looking the map over.

“If it wasn’t for the fact, we’d eventually hit the Redline I’d say we go through Oktyabraskaya and bribe our way through Venice and Kitay-Gorod…” Popov muttered.

“Going west to the 1905 might work but then we’d head east…”

“Into the Nazi’s.” Misha explained and Popov nodded, looking everyone over.

“Most of you look to be unmutated, and Russian too so that might work if all else fails.” Popov said.

“Just had to choose Dostoeyevskaya…” Misha grumbled.

“Didn’t have much of a choice, I’m afraid. Not a lot of real estate in the metro these days.” Popov said and suddenly Katya reached out, her finger landing on the last place Misha had expected it to go, station near the Redline; Sukharevskaya and place known as “Dry-Station” in the more criminal circles of the metro.

“There’s a…special tunnel at Sukharevskaya that connects it to the Hansa, and then to some tunnels leading it to Maryina Roscha.” She said and Popov gave her an odd look but nodded. Maryina Roscha was the station directly north of Dostoeyevskaya, and much like Dostoeyevskaya is was believed to be destroyed by Hansa; but Misha was beginning to doubt everything Hansa had told him about that part of the metro by now…

“Was it also left to rot by Hansa?—Can we not get to it” She asked, almost leading him to what they had suspected to be the answer.

“Believe it or not, yes and no.” Popov answered, surprising and confusing the group. “The station itself is badly damaged, and we don’t use it, the main metro tunnels between it and Dostoeyevskaya are actually destroyed but there are some maintenance tunnels connecting the two we closed off that can easily be reopened from of the two stations.” Popov explained, pulling out a pencil.

“Getting there will be an issue.

“Couldn’t we just head east through Hansa and then head south of…what is it? Prospekt Mira?” Stefania asked.

“No. Hansa keeps the line south of Prospekt Mira or the Market as they call it, closed off. Sukharevskaya used to be a station controlled by bandits.” Popov replied, looking over all of the tunnels and passages heading to or near Sukharevskaya.

“Used to be?” Misha asked. Last, he had heard it still was, but that was years ago. Hansa didn’t seem to have any intention to forcible take it, and last he heard the bandits didn’t cause much trouble with Hansa, preferring to raid stations far to the south of Sukharevskaya like Kitay-Gorod and getting into fights with the two gangs that taxed travelers through Kitay-Gorod.

“Yeah—last I heard back in ’33 some ranger went in and shot the place up, and either killed or scared off the bandits. I also heard two travelers snuck into the station through the surface and got into a fight there and won, but those are all just stories, my money is on the rangers finally handling it and Hansa either not hearing about it or not caring.” Popov said and sighed in annoyance, using the eraser end of his pencil to give the quickest path to Sukharevskaya, part of it briefly heading into Kitay-Gorod.

“We can head east into Taganskaya, then take the tunnels northwest to Kitay-Gorod, pay the toll there and then head north into Turgenevskaya.” Popov said to which Grischa nodded and spoke up.

“Cursed station.” Grischa muttered. The station of Turgenevskaya had been abandoned for most of the time humanity had been living in the metro. Early on it was like any other independent station; then something happened. No one is sure what, even now years later, but something forced its citizens out of their home and into various parts of the metro. Some claimed it was spirits from the tunnels in between them and Kitay-Gorod that forced them out, others claim it was a constant series of mutant attacks and others gave numerous varieties of each story or entirely different ones, either way the station had long since been abandoned with rumor having it that a small handful of incredibly stubborn holdouts having left back in ’33 for parts unknown. Some had assumed the Redline but the connection between it and the Redline had been closed off, physically, for decades. Misha had thought that is was a simple legend, and if not, then those holdouts had probably been killed by mutants in the tunnels…

“Just some legends…” Popov said. “And if not, if there’s some beasts or monsters there then I’m sure we’ll be fine with a stalker watching our back?” Popov asked rhetorically, despite his apprehension it was clear as day to everyone present Misha would be heading off on this adventure with Katya, there was no way in hell he wasn’t if he couldn’t convince her not to.

“So…we head east to Taganskaya, find some way, no doubt bribery, to head northwest to Kitay-Gorod then work our way to this ‘special tunnel’ you claim is there, Ms. Antipina?” Popov asked.

“It’s there. Trust me.” Katya said.

“She has…an obsession with tunnels like that; they’ve actually been helpful on occasion.” Grischa explained and Popov gave a nod.

“Well if my guess is correct, I know the kind of ‘special tunnels’ you’re speaking of. Never knew there were any near Sukharevskaya though.” He explained. “Plus all other routes aren’t exactly great either…if your right this one might actually be the least dangerous…minus some mutants of course.” Popov said.

“So, does that sound good to everyone?” He asked.

“Yes. Whatever’s quickest.” Katya said quickly, answering for the group.

“Good—then we should get ready.” Popov said and began to pack up, Katya rose from her seat quickly as well, beginning to head back for the tent before anyone could keep up with her. Misha went after her while Popov grabbed the box of shroom vodka and began to say something to Stefania while Grischa went over to the bar, letting everyone else leave in peace.

-------Half an hour later-----

It had been a while since Misha had packed up almost all of his gear. They used to move between Serpukhovskaya and Arbat every couple of days, or occasionally weeks, but they had been staying in Serpukhovskaya for much longer than usual. It had started to seem like a proper home in that time and for a while moving to the Arbat for work had left his mind. It had been rather pleasant actually to just stay in one place for a few months, even if the last few weeks had only progressively gotten worse since he had returned from the dead city with Joe. That city was always bad luck, but most time the bad luck tended to stay on the surface, Misha had not expected a trend of bad luck to form when he came back home from Polis, nor when he returned to it…

Misha had double checked his gear by now, everything was either packed or currently worn by him. His RPK was loaded, and he had brought all the magazine he could carry for it, all of them of various sizes. While they would be going through the tunnels, Misha still packed his gasmask and filters, and rolled up his radiation suit and threw it into his pack as well. It wasn’t uncommon for the more poor and unmaintained parts of the metro to be broken and let in radiation. He hoped he wouldn’t need to put it on, but he’d sooner throw it on Katya before he used it if they came across anything. With the radiation suit stowed away he had taken off the usual bullet proof vest he wore over it and threw it on over his sweatshirt, he had strapped a holster to it which contained a Makarov he had bought a few days back to replace one that had been ‘misplaced’ as Grischa put it, on the surface. He also strapped his knife onto part of his plate carrier; for all intents and purposes he looked like he was going to war, and he felt like it too.

Katya for her part wasn’t carrying much; while she had expressed an interesting in stalking years ago when Misha and her had gotten together she decided to stay down in the metro as much as possible, and over the years the gear she had originally been given had been either stowed away, lost or sold. All that remained was a gasmask and her backpack. Despite deciding to live underground as much as she could, she still had learned how to shoot; mostly through a combination of target ranges and rat hunting with Misha, her weapon of choice for that later activity being the duplet, a home made double barrel that Hansa and the Armory mass produced.

With the exception of Stefania, the little group looked to like a group of soldiers rather than explorers. It had taken some time, but all their gear was packed and now they were ready for their journey, and despite the bad blood, Grischa followed them all to the rail-cart that would take them to Taganskaya.

“Don’t keep the mutants waiting, Mr. Turgenev.” Grischa said, crossing his arms and watching the group get settled into their ride.

“I’ll try not to, Mr. Blok.” Misha replied, stepping into the rail-cart and sitting back in his chair. “They’re rather pleasant company unlike some people here…” Misha muttered.

“Will you two stop it? Please?” Katya asked and Grischa just shrugged before turning his back and walking away from the group as their rail-cart started up and took off down the tunnel.

------Later that day----

The group had left about an hour ago; and it took even less time than that for Grischa to return to the bar and begin drinking. He’d get that annoying bastard out of his head even if it killed him.

You drove me to drink, Misha; thanks for that. Grischa thought bitterly. He’d have found his way here eventually but now it was like he was on a mission, once he had walked off and he was sure they left he practically ran here.

He had been drinking alone but soon a man with a satchel had walked over, a man only a little younger than himself by the looks of him.

“…Excuse me, are you Grischa Blok?” He asked and Grischa was wondering if there would be anymore visits by strangers before he got to his tent tonight.

“I am.” Grischa muttered.

“And who are you?” He asked.

The man looked Grischa over for a second before replying.

"My name is Gleb." 

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It had been a run of the mill day for Dagonet. Long, and filled with what mostly amounted to tedium. Still, he wasn't looking forward to another tense evening with the girlfriend that was still angry with him. So he lingered behind at the Spartan base, catching up on documentation he'd been neglecting to review while he nursed through the remnants of a bottle of shroom vodka. 

At some point a light sort of commotion kicked up outside his office. Dagonet ignored it at first. Through the cracked door, it just sounded like someone was upset they weren't being allowed through. Given that he was effectively free of duty for the evening, and didn't tolerate any skirting or protocol during hours, the major ignored it. At least, he ignored it until someone began to yell. 

"Major Marcianus, there's been a murder!" 

Dagonet looked up at that point, still holding the pen in hand against paper. 

"Yo moyo," the man muttered under his breath as he straightened in his chair. He reached for the glass nearby and polished off the contents, gritting his teeth against the burn as he stood to go out and investigate. 

"What's happened?" he demanded as he emerged from his office, making for the front where two irritable looking guards had a civilian partially restrained. 

"Belikov is dead," the young man panted, trying to shake off the guard that had him. 

Dagonet cocked a brow. It struck him as odd that a civilian would be bringing that news to him, "How?" 

There was hesitance, followed by stammering, "Th-there was screaming," the boy answered, "and when people went to see Belikov was dead in his tent. I didn't see, father sent me to fetch you." 

"You're certain it was a murder?" 

Another bout of hesitance followed, "Well, I think so." 

Dagonet waved for his men to release the young man, "You can go. I'll make my way there," he said, turning to go lock up his office before departing to investigate. 

@AnOriginalAccountNam  @Morrigan

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@Morrigan @Dragon                                                                                               It didn't take Dag long to arrive at Belikov's office, finding not only a group of Kshatryia but also Valkov who was examining Belikov's body along with Joe and Voloyda.                               "Finally..." Voloyda muttered before walking over.                                               "Good to see you, major. We've kept anyone from tampering with the site. It was the..."maid"...who found him like this." Voloyda explained, gesturing to the still shocked and confused looking woman sitting on a nearby bench who was watching Joe and Valkov.

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Joe looked over to the woman a few times before Valkov even showed up. She was curious as to how she would react. She acted upset but she didn’t seem to look really upset. She had seen upset woman a time or thirty in her life and she just didn’t get that vibe.

When Valkov showed up she stood up to help keep people back mostly to observe the woman a little closer.

@Dragon @AnOriginalAccountNam

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Dagonet didn't look directly toward the maid, but his gaze cut toward her. She wasn't familiar too him; if they had crossed paths before, he'd forgotten. That didn't necessarily mean anything, though. Polis was a large enough station that not everyone knew all their neighbors by heart. 

"Any of you know of her?"  he asked of Volodya, Valkov and Joe. 

@Morrigan  @AnOriginalAccountNam

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Joe wandered back over as Dagonet came in from where the crowd was still trying to gawk at the dead man. "Nah. I go to the bar near here and I've never seen that lady. Normally its a little 13 year old girl named Zaya that cleans his office," she had her thoughts on why the little girl was his specific office cleaner but she wasn't willing to speak ill of the dead with so many ears around. "She's here every day but late," she said. "Never this early. Normally around the time I go to take a piss before bed," she shrugged to explain why she didn't like the 'cleaning woman' that was claiming to be there to clean his office.

@Dragon @AnOriginalAccountNam

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@Morrigan @Dragon

Valkov nodded.

"Yes, I remember her..." He muttered.

"Think she might know something? Maybe we should look for her, Major?" Voloyda asked. 

"It can't hurt to try..." He added.


Taganskaya was an unusual station for the Hansa, if not by how it looked then in how it felt. Where most of the ring was comprised of massive trade hubs built into the many transfer stations on the ring, filled to the brim with customers, traders, and stalkers alike. Taganskaya looked exactly the same, but the people here were more cautious, not just of their travelers but also the station itself; and who could blame them? The connected station of Marksistkaya was Hansa’s very own maximum-security prison. The transfer to that station was heavily guarded, not just by Hansa but by other parties as well, east of the prison was the first in a series of stations controlled by a group known as the Kalininskaya Confederation, who had their own soldiers setting up barricades in the eastern tunnels to stop anyone from escaping Marksistkaya, meanwhile the closest tunnel to the west was Venice which was controlled by three different gangs of bandits and the tunnels heading east of it were filled with shrimps and who knows what else. Escaping from Marksistkaya was next to impossible, and for the ‘lucky’ few who managed to escape their cells and get into the tunnels a hail of gunfire or hungry shrimps awaited them. One would assume that Taganskaya would be filled with the most confident and happy people around due to such levels of security, but Misha had been to Taganskaya plenty of times before meeting either Grischa or Katya, and plenty of times after, and in all that time little had changed in the peoples temperament. They’d sell to you, but they’d try and get you to leave as quickly as possible, they’d be friendly to you, yet they feared you, they’d tell you to come again but secretly wished the possible security risk parading as a customer would leave them quickly and leave them forever. Paranoia ruled the station.

The group had been welcomed into the station easily enough, all of them presented their passports as they entered to a rather board looking guard at the barricade outside the station.

“Mikhail Turgenev, stalker…welcome.” He mumbled and gestured for Misha to walk in as the others gave their passports to him.

“Ivan Popov, stalker…welcome.”

“Yekaterina Antipina…Refugee? Hmm, from the Redline? Welcome.” The guard said after giving Katya’s passport a double take, and then proceeding to do the same with Stefania’s.

“Stefania Kuznetsova, another Redline refugee?” He asked then quickly handed the passport back after she nodded silently, and they were all allowed in.

Despite Hansa willingly accept Redline refugees they were, and probably would always, remain suspicious of their new citizens, the group didn’t intend to stay much longer than a few minutes in Taganskaya for that to be too much of a problem though.

“Kuznetsova?” Katya asked with a raised eyebrow to the ever silent Stefania. “You get married or something, Ms. Studilina?” Katya asked a moment later.

“It’s what they gave me…” Stefania muttered, nodding to Popov.

“It seemed appropriate with who helped us.” Popov said and continued to lead them ahead, soon coming to the transfer heading northwest. As expected it was an airlock, surrounded by guards. The bandits from Kitay-Gorod hadn’t attacked Hansa in decades, but there was a lot more in those tunnels than bandits and gangsters from what Misha had heard. Last he was in those tunnels was in the 2020s, and then it was home to numerous packs of Nosalisis, though last he heard they had wandered off to other parts of the metro and now only a few remained in the tunnels leading to Kitay-Gorod.

The guards began to tell them that only authorized personnel or caravans were allowed past this point but soon enough Popov began to bargain with them. Bribery was commonplace in Hansa, it was practically expected at this point for many of the Rings citizens, Misha hardly noticed when he had to do it himself at this point. He decided to let Popov handle this, the man seemed to have more than enough bullets for the guard captain.

“How many shells did you pack?” He asked Katya, nodding to her double barrel.

“I brought all the shells I could; thirty. Most are in my pack.” She explained and he nodded.

“What’s in those tunnels?” Stefania asked.

“Not much from what I’ve been told; but I guess we’ll see…” Misha answered and looked back over at Popov who had seemingly finished an agreement with the guard captain, handing him and the guards near him a full AK’s worth of bullets each.

How much money did these people have? He wondered. Soon the guard captain, an older man with the name Zolotov stenciled onto his vest, turned to the group and spoke up.

“Ok, you guys can head through but first things first; some rules.” He began.

“The tunnel ahead is dangerous but judging by the looks of you it won’t be too much of an issue, we’ve been dealing with some Nosalisis over the past few weeks but their pack is relatively small, still though be careful, and another thing; you’ll find another barricade a few hundred meters in; we’ll radio ahead for them to let you through. Do not stop for any idle chatter with them, they got work out there to do and they don’t need any site seers to slow them down, so just keep walking once they figure out who you are.” Zolotov explained before turning back to his men and ordering them to open the gate to the tunnels.

“Anything else?” Misha asked.

“Other than keeping your mouth shut about this…” Zolotov said, holding up his payment “…the next time you’re in Taganskaya? No, nothing.” He said and then, with the gate open, quickly ushered the group through and into the tunnels.

As soon as they were through the gate began to close behind them, and then locked soon after. Ahead of them lay a well light but empty tunnel.

“Alright…” Popov muttered. “Onwards to Kitay-Gorod.” He said and then began to lead the group forward.

“How far is it to Kitay-Gorod anyway?” Stefania asked a few minutes into their journey.

“From Taganskaya? About four…five hours on foot. Maybe.” Misha explained.

“About.” Popov added.

“…I’m used to the time back at Serpukhovskaya, it’d be the middle of the night back home…” Katya began to say, somewhat tiredly looking at Misha who nodded in agreement.

“If it wasn’t for the mutants that guard mention then I’d suggest we set up camp after the barricade.” She said and Misha nodded.

“I’ve only heard stories about these ‘Nosalisis’…the guards at the Redline had them handled except for in the outer stations from what we were told growing up.” Stefania said, looking around the tunnels cautiously.

“Their a pain in the ass…” Misha said. “Their quick, hunt in packs, come up to about chest height on a man…” He continued.

“We’ll be fine.” Katya butted in, giving Misha and look and then looked back at Stefania.

“We’re armed, plus that guard said their pack is pretty small. They’ll probably just ignore us.” Katya added.

“Exactly.” Misha responded, part of him growing doubtful, the Nosalis never struck him as a cautious species but if Katya wanted to calm her friend down then so be it.


“Well great to meet you, Gleb. I’m Grischa…” Grischa replied dryly.

“Do you need me for something?” He asked and Gleb nodded, being silent for a moment before explaining himself.

“I do; I’ve heard stories of a home that has a decent amount of medicine stored in its basement.” He began, and Grischa nodded, knowing where this was going.

“And you didn’t get it yourself?” He asked, pouring himself another drink and Gleb nodded.

“Afraid not…I’m only just starting out as a stalker, only been up top once before today and it didn’t end well.” He explained.

“Figured I should get some help for this and I got pointed to you.” Gleb continued.

“And who was that? —Who pointed you at me?” Grischa asked, soon downing his drink.
“Someone from Polis…one of those uh…Kshatryia?” Gleb said.

 “Belikov, I believe.” He said and Grischa stopped, surprised Belikov would get him any work after their fight.

Who am I to turn it down though?

“…I’ll go with you….” Grischa mumbled. “Tomorrow though, when I’m…better. Yeah?” He said, holding up his drink and Gleb nodded.

“Yeah. Tomorrow.” Gleb replied.

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All things considered, it looked like the old fuck had just keeled over from a heart attack. And if he were being thoroughly honest, it was no harsh loss. At least, not so far as Dagonet was concerned - and what Joe was implying did nothing to salvage the Major's opinion of the other officer. 

All the same, Belikov was an officer. There was a large crowd whispering murder. Gods only knew what gossip would be spreading through Polis by morning. He had no choice but to look into it further. 

Joe's declaration was enough to give them a starting point. A different maid wasn't particularly odd - there were any number of reasons the regular wasn't there. But they might as well cover all the bases, "Take the woman in for interrogation," he said after mulling things over for a time, "and send someone to track down this girl Zaya."

@Morrigan  @AnOriginalAccountNam

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"I'll find the girl," Joe volunteered looking over to the woman with a glance still not trusting that. Belikov was a man of habit and in years he hadn't changed a girl unless they got too old for his tastes. At least that's what the ranger noticed.

"I got an idea of where she might be anyways as she shoulda been the one screaming that he was dead," she muttered quietly as she leaned in to whisper in Dag's ear so only he could hear her.

@Dragon @AnOriginalAccountNam

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@Morrigan @Dragon

“We’ll make sure she’s ready for you later sir.” Valkov said and then gestured for Voloyda to follow, both of them quickly heading over for the still shocked Natasha, whose demeanor quickly changed from shocked and upset to defensive.

“Hey, what are you—”

“We just need to ask you a few questions.” Voloyda said as Valkov grabbed Natasha by the arm, pulling her up from the bench.

“But I—I didn’t do anything, I-“Natasha began to argue

“Never said you did, it’s all standard procedure.” Voloyda said, following Valkov as he pushed the ‘maid’ away from Valkov’s office and towards the interrogation room.


Zaya had been hiding for a while now, she had lost track. It had to be more than an hour, maybe two, hiding out in this cramped little spot of hers. A small compartment not far from Belikov’s office, it’s was the first place that came to mind when she ran off

He was dead, she knew he was, she had heard all of it. It was muffled through the walls but when the men started to argue it was clear what was going on. Something about someone named Gleb, then there was gasping and a brief shout before she heard his body drop and then someone quickly hurrying around the roof as Belikov began to gasp a few more times then, from the sounds of it, die completely. Zaya didn’t know how to feel about it. Part of her was glad was he dead but the rest of her knew she would have been killed if she had gone into his office and so she ran. Hide herself away her and refused to move. She didn’t know who killed the bastard—it could be anyone at Polis….

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Joe headed off as Dagonet, Valkov and Volodya cleaned up the rest of the scene. There were a lot of places a kid could hide but Joe would be lying if she said she hadn't followed Zaya to her hidey-hole a few times after Belikov to make sure the girl wasn't dead or dying.

So she sat down beside the entrance and slipped in a candybar. "Have a bad night?" she asked through the shroud.


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