Liberators
Author: Godfrey Raphael

Chapter 16
Find Pyotr Matochkin

Chapter Sixteen: Find Pyotr Matochkin

 

Above Sevenivov, Rivymiyitevko

October 16, 2008 0401 Rivymiyitevko time (0001 Krakozhian time)

 

Planning a Spetsnaz operation was not supposed to be accomplished in just one day, but Junior Lieutenant Vyacheslav Klimov of Team FARMER had done just that. Using data provided by Mikhail Dopov in his message to Chairman Timofey Andropov, he had created a working plan for removing both the biological weapon and Dr. Pyotr Matochkin, as he had been identified by other KGB assets, out of the Sevenivov Research Institute.

 

Team FARMER, or rather, part of Team FARMER, was onboard an Ilyushin Il-76 transport aircraft “borrowed” from the 1116th Military Air Transportation Wing based in Rivymiyitevko Air Force Base during the opening stages of the Invasion. The plane was big enough to airlift two BTR-90 armored troop transports, with room to spare for twenty soldiers armed to the teeth, which was more than enough space for the whole of Team FARMER. But, for this mission, Gavrina Kumilyova had decided to take only her most trusted troops with her. The five Spetsnaz troopers were wearing black fatigues, the staple of the organization. They had also applied face paint in order to blend in with their environment. Their weapons had also been painted black.

 

Gavrina had the habit of wearing gloves throughout a mission, so Vyacheslav was surprised to see her bare hands tonight. He was also surprised to see four red stars tattooed on the fingers of her right hand, which he had never noticed before. “Where did you get those?” he asked her. Gavrina only gave him a threatening look for a reply, and Vyacheslav wisely decided to change the topic. “We should be near the Institute by now. The crew chief should be readying us for the jump.”

 

As if on cue, the crew chief turned to Vyacheslav and said, “We’re approaching your drop-off point. Tell your guys to get ready.” Then, to the pilot, he said, “This is the crew chief. Requesting permission to open the ramp.”

 

“Permission granted, Chief,” replied the pilot. “You may open the ramp.”

 

“Roger, pilot.” The crew chief opened a panel on the side of the aircraft and pulled a lever, and the ramp used to load vehicles and/or men to the plane opened up. The air roared inside the fuselage. A green light went on above the panel, meaning that the ramp was fully deployed.  The crew chief gave a thumbs-up, and the five Spetsnaz troopers jumped out of the aircraft.

 

Outside the aircraft, the maelstrom of the roaring engines was replaced by an eerie calm as the team fell to the ground. They pulled their parachutes just above one thousand feet, and they began to circle the Institute like vultures around a carcass. The Institute was well-lit for a structure supposedly under an imposed military blackout. Gavrina saw five soldiers guarding the roof of the complex, posted there to repel assaults like the one they were about to do. She turned around to face Vyacheslav and nodded before taking her suppressed sidearm and shooting her target, a guard wearing a balaclava, squarely between the eyes. A fine spray of blood and gray matter went out along with the bullet as it passed through his brain. The other guards received the same fate, and the Spetsnaz team landed on the roof without further incident.

 

They entered the Institute through a stairwell, and Gavrina ordered one of the soldiers to turn off the circuit breaker. As soon as this was done, the Institute fell dark. One scientist who was working on his research paper on a computer lost most of his files when the power went out, and he would file a complaint the day after the incident.

 

Gavrina activated her night-vision goggles and said, “Ravil, Boris, Arya, you three check the fifth floor for the weapon. Vyacheslav and I will look for the doctor.” As she and Klimov went down the stairs, the three other Spetsnaz troopers walked down the fifth floor corridor looking for the biological hazards storage room, where Mikhail Dopov’s message said the weapon was stored. After five minutes, they finally arrived at the door marked HAZARDOUS MATERIALS – BIOLOGICAL. Thanks to the power outage to the Institute, the automated door lock had been deactivated, and the door was left slightly ajar. The three went inside, scanning the shelves of preserved animals floating in formaldehyde and sealed Petri dishes holding dangerous germs until they finally came across a row of lockers. “Guys, take a look at this,” one of them said.

 

There were five lockers in the room, but only one was electronically locked. Luckily, that locker was connected to the Institute’s power supply, and the outage had left it open too. One of the soldiers opened the locker door carefully, and all three stared at the contents. A glass jar holding a mysterious yellow powder and marked with the words PROPERTY OF DR. M. A. VEBOKOV was inside, and one of the soldiers took the jar out carefully and asked, “What in the world is this?”

 

“I don’t know, but it’s not like any biological weapon I’ve seen before.”

 

“Maybe it’s not the weapon. It could be a decoy.”

 

“That doesn’t explain why this jar’s in that electronic locker when it could have easily been placed in one of the shelves.”

 

Private Arya Vladimirovna Nukova, the one who took the jar out of the locker, noticed a brown envelope at the bottom of the locker and took it. She picked it up, opened it, and took a look at its contents. They were pictures of a white mouse, which had been injected by the yellow powder in the jar. At twenty-fours after exposure, as noted on the photograph, the mouse had blisters similar to smallpox on its body and tail. After forty-eight hours, the blisters had broken and were bleeding profusely. Finally, sixty hours after exposure, the mouse was dead, its body literally floating in its own blood. Arya could only imagine what it would do to a human being.

 

“That’s the weapon,” she told the two arguing Spetsnaz troopers. “I’m sure of it.”

 

Pyotr Matochkin woke up, not because of the power outage, but because of the two figures standing in front of his bed. They were wearing something black, and they held something that looked like weapons to him. As they walked towards him, he raised his arms up and in a garbled voice pleaded, “Please! Don’t shoot!”

 

“What are you talking about, Pyotr Ivanovich?” asked the voice of Mikhail Vebokov. “We’re not the enemy, we’re your friends.”

 

“You must be having a bad dream, Dr. Matochkin,” said Ivan Bakhusov.

 

“What’s with the guards?” asked Matochkin.

 

“Power to the Institute was cut off a few minutes ago,” replied Bakhusov. “The guards on the roof have not yet reported in. We suspect a Krakozhian intrusion. Come! We must get to the underground train and escape to Sonolovichyrevko before they get us—“

 

Bakhusov was cut off by the burp of an AK-101 assault rifle being fired, followed by the louder bark of an M60 machine gun. Bakhusov and Vebokov turned around only to be knocked out by two rifle butts. Matochkin was too shocked by the speed of events that he barely had the strength to speak, and his mouth hung open like a silly cartoon character while he was being inspected by Kumilyova and Klimov. “Are you Dr. Pyotr Matochkin?” they asked.

 

“Yes.”

 

“What was the name of the paper that your son wrote for Biochemistry International for their May 1998 issue?”

 

“‘Mutually Assured Destruction through Biology’,” replied Matochkin. His son, Fyodor Petrovich, was a writer as well as a biochemical engineer just like his father.

 

“Get up, Doctor,” said Kumilyova. “We’re here to get you out.” Then, on the radio, she said, “Farmer Three, this is Farmer One. We have the subject.”

 

“Farmer Three copies, Farmer One,” replied Sergeant Ravil Yanenko, callsign Farmer Three. “We have the weapon. I’ve already called for the helicopter. ETA two minutes.”

 

“Roger that.” To Klimov and Matochkin, she said, “Let’s go!”

 

But the doctor didn’t budge. “You have to bring these people with you!” he said, pointing at Bakhusov and Vebokov’s limp bodies.

 

“They’re dead weight,” replied Klimov. “Besides, we can’t just go and take people along with us without their consent.”

 

“You have to bring these men with you, if you want to understand the concept of the weapon,” Matochkin insisted. “They’re the ones who developed it into a deadly pathogen.”

 

“That’s just another reason for me to leave them behind,” said Klimov.

 

“Unfortunately, Vyacheslav, the doctor’s right,” Kumilyova told him. “We have to find out as much as we can about this weapon so that we can develop an antidote and prevented further launch by other parties. And then, once we know everything we need to know, we’ll throw them back to the dogs.”

 

Klimov thought the matter over the matter for a second before replying. “Okay, fine, but he can carry them,” he said, pointing at Matochkin.

 

“I’m too old to do this,” muttered Matochkin, who then lifted Bakhusov’s limp form on his back effortlessly. Klimov managed to lift an eyebrow at the doctor before he took Vebokov and put him on his shoulders.

 

“Farmer Three, what’s the ETA of the helicopter?” asked Kumilyova.

 

“One minute, Farmer One,” replied Yanenko. “Where are you? You were supposed to be here on the roof by now!”

 

“We got stuck with extra baggage. Don’t worry, we’re on the way.”

 

Kumilyova, Klimov, and Matochkin went up the stairwell, shooting an RIM soldier in the process. They reached the roof just in time to see the Mil Mi-8 Hip from the battleship Rivymiyitevko approach the Institute. The crew chief tapped the shoulder of each team member and helped Klimov and Matochkin load Bakhusov and Vebokov’s bodies onto the helicopter. And then, just before Gavrina got onboard the Hip, RIM soldiers burst out of the stairwell that they had used just a few minutes earlier and began firing at the helicopter. The crew chief responded by firing back with his weapon, a PK machine gun.


“Where’s our support?” asked Kumilyova.

 

“It should be coming right now,” replied the crew chief, and he was soon proved right by the arrival of the Mil Mi-24 Hind gunship, which immediately fired its nose-mounted machine gun and its rockets at the RIM troops at the roof of the Institute. While the Hind was busy on its strafing run, the Hip flew away from the Institute as fast as possible and back to the Rivymiyitevko Air Force Base. There, Team FARMER noticed that Chairman Timofey Andropov of the Krakozhian Committee for State Security waiting for them, as well as a hazmat team dressed in their white biohazard suits. "Welcome to Rivymiyitevko Air Force Base, Doctor," Andropov told Matochkin, extending his hand. "We thank you for your effort to save the Republic of Krakozhia from grievous harm, and we hope that your stay in the Base will be pleasant."

 

"Thank you, sir," replied Matochkin, eyeing Andropov's hand carefully before accepting it.

 

"Where's the weapon?" asked the leader of the hazmat team.

 

"Right here, comrade," replied Arya Nukova, handing over Vebokov's jar of Thiomargarita to him. "Also, here are some pictures of tests done using that." She handed over the brown envelope.

 

"Somebody help me get these people to the infirmary!" Klimov shouted, pointing at Bakhusov and Vebokov's limp bodies. A few corpsmen volunteered for the job, heaving the two Russian scientists to stretchers and administering first aid to them.

 

"I'm sure you feel glad for having done the right thing," Andropov told Matochkin. "Not everybody gets the chance to save an entire country from doom, whether it be their home or not."

 

"I just can't believe that Mikhail Anastasovich has been seduced into such a scheme," he muttered to nobody but himself.

 

"What was that?" asked Andropov.

 

"Nothing, Mr. Chairman. I just want to be back in my small government-paid laboratory in Moscow and sleep in my small government-paid apartment."

 

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