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From Beneath You It Devours: Everyone Hates a Prequel

Brown Dynamite

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Nizhny Novgorod 
Nizhegorod Oblast Russia

Wednesday, February 1st, 2017

1:00 PM (5:00 AM Eastern)


It would take special cause for Comrade Frost to find himself called back to Russia on a mission.  Especially serving under official Freedom League capacity.  Special cause like a series of disappearances with no trace left behind.  Including those inside of the Kremlin.  Rumors were starting to spread about Baba Yaga returning and stealing "naughty children".  


As the only member of the People's Heroes still serving since the last great battle against Baba Yaga, Comrade Frost was called in secretly.  Sandman, the guest in question, was brought in a special consultant by Comrade Frost, as he was told not to tell the proper Freedom League about the mission, political pride preventing sharing with the world a potential threat arising from out of Russia.  That was if there was any truth to the rumors to begin with.


After all, many things went bump in the night...

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Sandman had been warned about Comrade Frost - but Dimitri seemed unusually subdued all through the trip. He'd conscripted a Russian An-124 for the purposes of their journey, assuring Sandman that mundanity would provide anonymity for their trip. He'd spent much of the flight, especially once they were outside of American airspace, doing something that Sandman had hardly ever seen someone do outside of very old movies - smoke a series of cigarettes that he stubbed out on the palm of his hand when he was done, and pour through carefully typed documents with sepia photographs that looked to date at least to the 1950s. Everything was written, of course, in Russian.


"It was bad, after the war years. So many orphans taken...we never had a number." He took a drag off the cigarette, looking at Sandman across the conference table that the modified cargo plane carried in its belly, permanently affixed to the interior bulkhead. "It was only when children of powerful began to disappear that action was taken." He slid a picture across the table - one that looked rather ominous. "Totskoye - 1954. The West thought it was nuclear test amid simulated battlefield. Not so." 

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Ellis was not entirely certain why the ex-soviet hero was so poorly regarded among the community in Freedom City, he seemed personable enough in his admittedly brief encounters prior to this.  While the usual false front was certainly grating at times it hardly seemed prudent to regard the man poorly because the mask he chose to wear was not made of cloth.  Regardless the benefits of one who had faced their possible foe before outweighed any quirks of personality, even the smoking, mostly, well at least they weren't in an enclosed space with recycled air, then it would be just rude.   He smirked remembering back to a visiting lecturer he'd met during his internship, a Cardiologist from Russia that he'd encountered smoking outside the lecture hall between talks.  The Doctor had told him, "If you see a Doctor smoking you can be sure he is Russian."  and laughed uproariously.  Focusing once more on the present he looked down at he picture with some concern, they did not most likely have that kind of firepower this time around, hopefully they wouldn't need it.


"That is why they always hunt at the fringes to start."  he agreed with a heavy sigh, "Creatures born of nightmare are rarely brave themselves."  he mused holding hte picture as he examined it.  Looking back to Frost he inquired carefully, "Were any of them found?"  Often it was worse for the victims that survived these attacks, but they could be informative, of course if it was truly who they worried was at the root of the more recent disappearances it was worse for all of them.

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Before Frost could answer the question there was a quick burst transmission on a small hand held radio.  It was quick, staticy and filled with beeps rather than words.  Slowed down there was one clear message to those who knew the cipher.  Another had been taken.


Burst transmission was a bit old school, but effective as far as making sure only those who needed to hear something could.  It also signaled one other thing.  Russian officials were keen to keeping news of the disappearances out of the news still.  Even if those who had lost a loved one already were well aware of the circumstances.


However, the reception of the transmission meant more than the situation had continued to turn dire.  No, it also meant they were officially in Russian airspace and it would not be much longer until they landed.

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"In a sense. A few were rescued from hands of Leshys engaged in delivery, either on vay or during battle." At the question in Ellis's eyes, Dimitri waved a hand. "Giants who roam the forest and eat children, many of those in those years. Ve had little protection in days when blood sunk deep into our soil." Setting down the old-fashioned corded phone he'd used to take the message from the pilot, he passed on the news of their imminent arrival to his American colleague. "The fate of those lost is unknown. I had hoped that the blast would have spared them from further suffering. But, such is fate. In any case, there are no more Leshys in this part of Russia - and the blast closed the gate sixty years ago. We vill have to improvise." 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Looking up from the photos as the call came in Ellis leaned back in his chair to stare out the window for a long moment, "At least not in numbers."  he opined, "rarely do such fiends vanish entire, just become better at hiding."  which was much the concern they had with this entire situation when it came down to it.  He smiled ever so slightly at the suggested improvisation, "I'm sure we'll manage."  he shrugged and looked back as Comrade Frost hung up the phone.  "There are many ways to such realms, none of them pleasant to be sure, though we hope our path easier than our foes."  he said with some melancholy it was much worse if their quarry had unfettered access to whatever damned realm it had crawled from.

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  • 1 month later...



Upon landing in Strigino airport, the pair of heroes found themselves in a yet to be fully completed cargo terminal.  An uncomfortable walk which led into an even more uncomfortable bus ride followed.  At the end of the trek that seemed as if it would never end the pair of heroes found themselves in the town of Voskresensk.  Specifically inside of the house of one Anton Milchakov.  Milchakov was a former soviet soldier turned businessman and the owner of the Milchakov Fertilizer Plant.  The plant formerly named after Stalin was in charge of production of the "Prussic Acid", even before it was needed due to wartime reserves.


Of course nowadays, the plant is officially far removed from the military complex, instead focused on fertilizer production.  But, Milchakov was a man of influence.  And his business not so divorced from state affairs as to not get priority.  Especially when the latest disappearance was Milchakov's own child.


There were members of the Alpha Group combing the property.  Looking for clues to no avail.  All the while, Sandman and Comrade Frost were inside of a lavish dining room.  Sitting across from a wiry old man in a black peticoat.  His eyes showing more and more age by the minute.  Of which not a word had been uttered.  Whether this man was waiting for the heroes to speak first, he had not said.  Instead he simply sat in silence staring at an unopened manila envelope placed on the dining room table.

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  • 3 months later...

"Mr. Milchakov, I greet you in the name of the People's Heroes and the American Freedom League. This is my colleague, Mr. Sandman. He has come from America to help us resolve this crisis." Dimitri took the old man's hand and gave him a firm handshake, as a man greets another man, then handed him off to Sandman. While the greetings were performed, he picked up the manila envelope and produced a worn bronze letter opener from his sleeve. The old Army-issue blade had seen quite a bit of use, even if you didn't count stabbing those warded against cold with it, and without a flourish Dimitri cut open the envelope and spilled its contents out upon the table before them.

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Sandman took the officials hand in turn, his grip perhaps not as firm as the heat vampires but certainly warmer.  "What are you able to tell us of these disappearances?"  he inquired delicately his Russian unaccented and carefully inflected in the ears of the native speakers thanks to the universal language of dreams.   He well understood that even in modern Russia, perhaps even more-so than under soviet rule, asking what the man knew would be impolitic at best, "Our interest is solely in retrieving those lost."  he assured as they had no interest in the recriminations of how things were allowed to go so far before experts were called upon.  


As Frost spilled the envelope's contents on the table he spared them only a fleeting glance keeping his attention on their host.  The documents would like as not carry little of use to his particular skills.

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Milchakov gave a stonefaced expression to the American hero.  But, he did speak to both men the moment the envelope was opened.  Inside were pictures of bedrooms.  Children's bedrooms.  Some were messy, but none had anything particularly strange sights.


"Mystics say the taint of the Unclean Force.  can be found all over every disappearance.  No struggle.  No signs of escape.  The children, my son, just go missing into the night.  All but one."  It didn't take much to figure out which victim was the one in question.  One of the pictures showed a man on a child's bed.  His body covered in many stab wounds.  


"If she has returned,  her intermediaries are using more sophisticated means."  Sure, the Soviet government had gone through extremes in their goal of ridding Russia of her threat.  Unofficially that is.  But, the implication was clear if unspoken.  The Leshy mentioned earlier had no need for weapons, they were giants.  If they wanted to get rid of a parent stopping their kidnappings, they would have used brute force.  Not some sort of bladed weaponry.

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The humor dropped out of Dimitri's face like a morning frost on a summer day. "<It is different,>" he agreed. He put his hand on the picture of the dead man and hazarded, "He waited?" he inquired, picturing a scenario in his mind with painful surety. "It seems there is a new agent, yes, or group of them. We will need to see last two scenes for evidence, and perhaps this man's as well. Sandman, what do you think?" he inquired of his ally, leaning on the other man's counsel first as he considered his own thoughts. A journey into the realms of the Fae was certainly not beyond his abilities - but would Sandman appreciate the cost that they might have to inflict?

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It wasn't as if he'd expected a warm welcome even in good times the Russian people were mistrustful of strangers and foreigners in particular, not without reason, yet he remained uncertain if his presence was more hindrance than help.  Particularly given the dearth of expertise he was able to offer from what had been revealed.  Nodding thoughtfully he looked over the pictures with care, "Was a child taken there as well?"  he inquired carefully looking to Frost at the question.  "Whatever it is can come and go without attracting notice,"  he nodded to the dead man in the picture, "But they do not travel between the realms freely, else they could have moved on without need for violence."  


He set the pictures down and looked up at their host, "They must take the victims to some lair or portal to their home realms."  Nodding to Frost he added, "We may be able to track them from the site of one of hte kidnappings."

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  • 4 months later...




"He waited,"  Milchakov responded before standing to leave.  "I will send for a car."  The statement was, of course, putting it lightly.  No sooner than Milchakov had stood to leave had black Mercedes Benz G class SUV pulled up outside in the driveway clearly visible to both heroes.  Clearly, Milchakov had expected that both men would like to see the property themselves.  They were promptly escorted to the back of the vehicle by Milchakov himself.  Who, rather than thank them for their help, calmly stated.  "I do not tolerate failure."  His tone did not waiver, matching the consistency of the rest of the conversation.  Which didn't exactly make it sound as if it were intended to be a threat.


But, before anyone could ponder the weight of his words, Milchakov tapped the top of the SUV and it was off. Soon they were at the dead man's home.   The cabin had its back to the mountains,  at the foot of a slope surrounded by coniferous taiga and with views of lake svletoyar a few miles away.  The roof was blanketed in snow, with wooden beams holding up said structure from the outside.  The inside of the home was far from clean, with the newest piece of technology being the cast iron stove that heated up the domicile.  Two windows one looking East and one looking West stood still.  Although the Westernmost window had been shattered completely.  Allowing direct access to a young girl's room.  Furniture was upturned everywhere.


Some of the upturned books were religious text belonging to the old believers.  An Axe was cleanly broken into and stuck against the wall.  The bloodstained handprints on the tool hinting that the father did not go without a fight.  As Sandman had suspected there were clearly visible signs of magical activity to Dmitri.  A lot of it.  There hadn't been just one agent on that night.  But multiple.  Enough for remnants of their magic to still clearly find itself detectable this long after the fact.



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