Chapter 18

Arkady and Nadovev stared with their mouths and eyes wide open. There was no doubt in their minds that this was it. The room was small, but held one large containment device.  A steel and glass enclosure with large viewing points stood connected to the back wall. Around the room were cables connected to the containment pod. Through the viewing ports on the container shone a bright orange light. Exactly what I saw in my dream, Nadovev thought. A creepy feeling began to form inside of him as his premonition was coming true. The reality of the situation began to scare him.

            “I… wow…,” Arkady mumbled as he tried to find the words to describe what was before them.

            Nadovev approached the container slowly. His heart was going a mile a minute; it felt like it was going to burst out of his chest. He found himself mesmerized by the glowing orange light. It was as if it was calling to him, drawing him closer to the container. Nadovev felt like the artifact wanted to be freed from its prison. Without even knowing its purpose, they could feel the power contained within it. The big mystery was now standing right before them. All they had to do was reach out and take it.

            On the side of the container Nadovev found latches that held the cover in place. He flicked the three of the off unlocking it. He paused for a moment. Should I even be touching it? he asked himself. There was no telling what this artifact was capable of. But something deep down inside of him, an echo from his past dreams told him it was okay to handle it. Trusting his instinct he opened the container.

            The orange light shone even brighter with the cover out of the way. He could now see more of it. Several black lisping scratchy lines swirled around it. The image of it seemed so familiar to him, yet he couldn’t place his finger on it. As he moved close to it, he began to feel heat coming off of it. It wasn’t hot, it wasn’t harming him. It felt warm and inviting, comfortable even. It suddenly occurred to him why it looked familiar, it looked like a basketball. It was about the same size too. Glowing orange with black scratchy ribbons moving around it, they moved about ten centimetres above the surface.

            Nadovev reached out and touched it. It was warm and soothing in his hands. He still had this odd feeling about the artifact that he couldn’t describe. Arkady still stood at the entrance in awe of the whole scene. It was a truly magnificent moment.

            Suddenly remembering that he was doing a job, Nadovev put the artifact down. He reached into his pack and pulled out a military issue nylon drawstring bag. He opened it and carefully slipped the artifact inside. He drew the string closing it and packed it away in his rucksack. His mind reeled from the reality before them: They’d finally found it. After all the hell they went through trying to find this thing, it was finally in their possession. Never had Nadovev ever had such a struggle to find an artifact. It was a huge weight lifted off his shoulders. Ironically, he felt another one weigh on him as he put the rucksack back on. It wasn’t too heavy though, it weighed about a kilogram.

            Arkady and Nadovev just stared at each other with smiles. They’d done it, they’d found it. At so many moments they were sure that they were going to die a miserable death in search of the damned thing. Now here they were with the prize and a moment away from beginning their long trek back to Skadovsk. The two of them just stood there soaking up the moment, one of the few sweet feelings you ever got in the Zone. We did it, Nadovev thought, now we just have to find a way out of here.

            Taking a deep breath, Nadovev took out his PDA and let the completion of the search be known. “Ricky, Iosif. We’ve found the artifact. Meet us on the third floor of the south wing.” There was no response. The reception seemed bad, so he repeated the message. Still, there was no answer, just static. “Ricky? Iosif? Do you read me?”

            More static came over the PDA. Then Ricky’s voice managed to squeeze through, “we’re taking fire! Someone else has made it down into the bunker and are in pursuit!” Nadovev could hear shots being fired over the PDA.

            “Okay, just make it to the third floor in the south wing and we can figure something out,” he told Ricky.

            “Got it,” he replied.

            Nadovev grabbed Arkady and pulled him out of the containment room, “come on we have to find another way out of here. We can’t go that way, there’s zombies hunting for us.”

            They stopped in the center of the experimentation room and looked for another door out. It took a few moments of scanning the walls by eye, but Arkady spotted one. A big steel roll up door was on the far side of the room. It had what looked like a track for moving heavy things leading up to it. As they approached it, they saw it was operated by a chain hanging to the side. Nadovev grabbed it and began to pull. It took a lot of effort, but it slowly began to lift up.

            A huge bang came from the other door where the zombies had been stopped. It looked like the door was starting to bend convex to them, giving way under the pressure placed on it by the zombies. Arkady and Nadovev just looked at each with what-else-can-go-wrong expressions. The pressure was really on now. Not only did they have to catch up with Ricky and Iosif, but they had to avoid these zombies as well. Nadovev jumped up in the air and grabbed the chain. He used his body weight to pull the chain down even further. For all his effort he only managed to get it open about sixty centimetres.

            The door, holding back the zombies finally collapsed. Nadovev dropped to his hands and knees and crawled under the roll up door. “Come on,” he yelled to Arkady. He too dropped down and rolled under the door as the zombies began making their way towards them. Nadovev and Ricky grabbed the chain and tried to get the door closed. Closing it was proving to be much more difficult. The zombies were edging their way closer to the roll up door as they continued to struggle to close it.

            “Come on you piece of shit!” Arkady exclaimed as they pulled with all their might.

            Several hands were now reaching under the door. One of them was a cold, clammy grey hand riddled with weird spots.  Nadovev stamped on it and it withdrew. Their moaning hungry voices grew louder as they began reaching for their reluctant meal. Nadovev heard one particularly loud, raspy hoarse moan, like the zombie had been shot in the throat or something. More hands managed to make their way under the door. With one last jumping pull the door slammed shut. The zombies were blocked once again. A few arms were trapped under the door still twitching. Arkady kicked one of them in frustration. They breathed a sigh of relief.

            “Enough of this shit, let’s go,” Nadovev said.

Ricky and Iosif raced down the stairs, reaching the third floor. All they had to do now was to make their way from the north wing to the south wing. Iosif took out one of the grenades from the warehouse, pulled the pin and threw it up the stairs. There was a crumpling sound as it went off, and he heard men yelling. He had no idea if it had hurt anyone. At the very least it would slow them down a bit as they took cover. It bought them some more time. How much? They didn’t know. Chew on that for a while, you bastards, Iosif thought.

            They charged down different corridors with no idea where they were going. They wove around debris, dodged through doorways, and leapt over the odd fallen equipment. A few times they ran into a dead end and had to backtrack a few meters. The place was a maze; they could only hope they were going in the right direction. There was no telling where Nadovev and Arkady were. There wasn’t a moment to stop and contact them on the PDA. Iosif was really close to praying to the Eastern Orthodox God that he had given up years ago. In a moment like this he almost needed it.

            The mercenaries were closing in. Their footfalls behind them were getting louder and louder. Ricky and Iosif could hear the mercenaries taunting them. Their words were filled with threats and mockery. They held promises of slow death and all sorts of torture. It all seemed like a dream; one of those dreams where you can never run fast enough to get away from what was chasing you. Like the dream, they couldn’t see their pursuers either. Their senses only absorbed a promise of a threat trailing behind them.

            Ricky was starting to panic. He considered shooting Iosif in the leg to give the people chasing them something to deal with. But it was too risky; Iosif was a decent shot and would be able to hit him back. It could easily be done with a PKM. A machine gun used in a hallway was a formidable weapon that you couldn’t dodge. Have to come up with something else, he thought. Another grenade thrown over their shoulders would trip them up a bit. Nah, we already tried that. It wouldn’t work again. Then a thought occurred to him.

            “Do you have any ideas how to slow these guys down?” he asked Iosif.

            “Ambush them around a corner,” Iosif said as he stopped at a T intersection.

            He got down on one knee and aimed the machine gun down the hall waiting for the mercenaries to come around the corner. Ricky aimed his M16 down the hall with him. Any moment the mercenaries were going to be tearing around that corner at full steam. When they did, Ricky and Iosif would let loose everything they have. It would be devastating because they’d be totally thrown off trying to scramble away. They held their weapons tighter as they heard the thundering feet of the mercenaries close in on them. Nervousness gripped them as hard as they were gripping their weapons.

            The first two mercenaries came around the corner at top speed. They didn’t even have time to react. Ricky and Iosif let it fly. The two mercenaries were shredded instantly by the flying hot lead. Two more right behind them took a few rounds before falling. The rest of the mercenaries managed to stay behind cover and avoid getting shot. Ricky and Iosif immediately got up and began running again. For good measure Ricky threw a grenade down the hall, hoping it would go far enough to reach them. Eh, try it again anyway, he thought.

They’re going to die. Every last one of them was going to see their blood drain from them as their lives ended! Sergei rage to himself inside. These nobodies had gotten past them while they were busy. These little shits were beating them to the prize. Sergei had never had a mission go this badly. They were being humiliated by lone Stalkers. It was shaming them with every passing minute. “Move faster they’re getting away!” he screamed at his soldiers.

            The lead men made a sharp turn at a T intersection. In an instant Sergei watched them get cut down from what sounded like machine gun fire. It seemed like they evaporated before his eyes. Two men behind those in the front took a few rounds and fell to the ground. Sergei raged even harder, almost to the breaking point. Now his soldiers were getting cut down by a simple ambush.

            When the firing stopped, he got up and ordered his men forward. He came around the corner quickly looking to shorten the gap between them as quickly as possible. It was then that he looked down and saw the grenade at his feet. One second later it exploded, bringing his career and life to an end.

Nadovev and Arkady were running at top speed through the third floor of the bunker. Their knees were pounding like pistons, their hearts like jackhammers. All the confidence and positivity that came from the capture of the artifact had been washed away in a twin tide of zombies and mercenaries. With their prize in hand, their primary goal became surviving the onslaught trying to escape. Nadovev had a feeling it was all for nothing. The mercenaries had them outnumbered and out gunned. They were extremely fortunate to have been able to slip past them while they fought Duty. Their luck in this matter was draining away like a punctured basin.

            He heard foot falls in front of them coming the other way. It was too dark to see who it was. He hoped that it was Iosif and Ricky. If it was the mercenaries…

            Ricky’s face emerged from the dark, slowly forming like a stalking face in a dream. It reminded him of a few nightmares he’d had as a child. A moment later Iosif’s face began to materialize, a much more welcoming sight. The two groups stopped in front of each other, panting away their exhaustion. Nadovev couldn’t help but notice Ricky clutching at his shoulder; the same one that had been hit by a bullet earlier. It seemed like the shoulder was bleeding again, the bandage leaked life fluids. He also noticed that the leg he fell on was wobbling a bit. An arm and a leg seemed to be what he was paying for this job.

            “Jesus Christ, am I glad to see you guys,” Iosif blurted out at Nadovev and Arkady. He had his hands on his knees, doubled over with exhaustion. Nadovev figured that it must take a lot to move that much bulk around, especially at top speed. He was almost surprised Ricky hadn’t abandoned him.

            Nadovev pointed at Ricky’s shoulder, “you okay there?” he asked.

            Ricky was struggling to breathe, “It’s not so bad,” he said, “just hurts like hell right now. I think the wound started bleeding again.”

            “Keep an eye on it, that could get infected easily,” Nadovev replied, “now, how the hell do we get out of here before those mercenaries come down on us, or the zombies kill us?”

            “There’s zombies down here?” Iosif asked.

            “Yep,” he answered.

            The situation was way out of hand. They were about to be crushed in a zombie-mercenary sandwich. Escaping was near hopeless; no one had any idea about how to get out.

Arkady snapped his fingers, “what if climb through an air vent or something, like in the movies?” he asked.

            “You’re dumb,” Ricky answered, mockingly shaking head at him. Arkady went quiet looking ashamed.

            “Hold on,” Nadovev said, holding his hand up. “Why don’t we just run around them? I mean there’s more than one stairwell, and both wings are connected on each floor… Okay, here’s what we do…” Nadovev laid out his plan to the rest of the squad. He had an idea for a trap that would make the mercen-aries regret ever coming down into the bunker. They all developed devilish smiles on their faces as he explained the plan. The mercenaries wouldn’t stand a chance if they sprung the trap successfully.

The mercenaries charged down the corridors in a frenzy. With the death of their commanding officer Sergei, they had lost any coordinated leadership. They were reacting emotionally out of revenge. It sounded of thunder as combat boots struck the ground with a fury. It was intolerable for mercenaries to get outwitted by mere Stalkers; it was an insult to their honour.  Those who had shamed them had to pay with their blood. Weapons raised, they tracked their prey through the dark halls demanding satisfaction. Nothing was going to stop them, they needed their pay day and they were going to get it.

            In a disorganized mass the remaining mercenaries rounded each corner and swept each room. With each passing minute their anger swelled. As their search dragged on they began to get the feeling that their prey had eluded them once again. Frustration building, they began to get sloppy. Every now and then a corner would be left unchecked, or a door would be missed. Angry minds that lack leadership lead only to disaster.

            One of the mercenaries called them to a halt. Looking back where they had come from he pointed to a figure some distance away. It was Ricky waving to them with a cocky smile pasted across his face. When they finally realized he was mocking them, they gave chase. Ricky stared at them nonchalantly and gave them the finger. Laughing in arrogant glee he took off leading the mercenaries right where they had planned. Enraged by the mockery they charged after Ricky with reckless abandon.

            With all sense of tactics thrown to the wind they chased after the laughing Stalker. He dodged around a corner and left their sight. A few moments later they too rounded that same corner… and were met with a dead end. Seemingly, the Stalker just disappeared. There was only one way out, the way they had just come. So where had he gone? The group of mercenaries stood around dumbfounded searching for a possible exit. As they looked, one of them heard a slight noise above them, a creaking metal sound. Looking up, the mercenary noticed a grill leading into some kind of… air vent? The mercenary called the others around to his discovery. One of them shouted to the Stalkers to come out with their hands up. He was met with silence. He called to them again and received the same.

            A slight shuffling sound could be heard about ten meters away. One of the mercenaries turned and looked in the direction of the new noise. His heart sank at what he saw. Slowly a group of zombies was making their way towards the group. It took a moment, but the zombies finally noticed the mercenaries. The two groups met each other in the eyes. The mercenaries looked on in wide mouthed fear, while the zombies in an empty mindless hate. Now that they could see the mercenaries, the zombies increased in speed and ferocity. A chilling wail cut through the air into their fear numbed minds.

            One of the mercenaries raised his weapon and began to fire. When his magazine was exhausted, only one zombie was felled. As they raced closer, the rest of the mercenaries opened fire doing the best they could to resist the oncoming horde. Even with all their concentrated fire power, at best they managed to spray the walls with the zombie’s blood. There weren’t enough bullets in their guns to stop all of them. They had been led right into a trap. A mercenary vomited when he realized that they weren’t going to get out of the situation alive.

            As the zombies came closer and closer, one of mercenaries lost his nerve and threw himself into the oncoming mass. His body was ripped apart by the mindless creatures before the eyes of the others. In only a moment, the mercenary’s yellow intestines were looped around three of his attackers. The rest in a desperate horror resumed their futile firing. The rabid angry beasts absorbed the bullets like raindrops. A few moments later the screams of the mercenaries filled the bunker as they were torn asunder.

            Up in the air vent, Radiochemical Company crawled on their hands and knees away from the mess unfolding below them. Arkady shivered as he heard the death screams of the mercenaries. Ricky was laughing away as they escaped unharmed.

The men of Radiochemical Company crawled along the air vent until they had reached a distance that put them out of sight of the zombies. Dropping from the ceiling Nadovev was feeling quite proud of himself for his cunning plan. He stretched out his legs from being cooped up in the air vent waiting for the mercenaries to stumble into their doom. Arkady was in silent awe of what Nadovev had managed to pull off. Ricky and Iosif had been just glad to be away from any zombies.

            “Got to admit,” Iosif said, “I’m impressed. Nice move.” He stretched out his legs as well. They were outright sore. Men his size weren’t meant to be going around climbing in the vents. He had to admit, he was astounded by Nadovev’s plan. He actually didn’t think it was going to work.

            “I just make it up as I go along,” Nadovev said as he pulled on a rope that stretched into the vent. “We have to make contact with Camera and get out of here.” Reefing on the rope he pulled the bag containing the artifact out of the vent and into his arms. The plan had gone off without a hitch. Hauling the bag onto his back, Nadsovev lead the team away from the zombies and back to the surface.

            It wasn’t long before they had made it back to the elevator. To their surprise the power to it was still on. They piled in breathing a sigh of relief that this nightmare was almost over. Nadovev on the other hand was not so naive. He just knew that still more danger was coming. The artifact was far too heavily prized for this madness to be over. Something still nagged at the back of his mind. Something was not right about all of this. He figured one of two things was going to happen: either the artifact would turn out to be worthless and the client won’t pay them anything, or the artifact will turn out to be more valuable than they could have imagined. He wasn’t sure which one he preferred.

            “Alright, to hell with this place,” he said as he pushed the button to return to the surface.

            His mind drifted back to the artifact. Why did people want this thing so badly even though they had no idea what it did? There has to be something to this thing for everyone to be after it. It looked special, it was certainly beautiful to look at… but it wasn’t enough to justify all the fuss that was being made over it. There just had to be something to this thing that makes it so valuable. No one pays two million rubles for a simple artifact. Even the most expensive only go for a few thousand. Hell, even the legendary compass only went for fifty thousand. Nadovev had a bad feeling about the artifact. Something that made him think the thing was going to be more trouble than it was worth.

            With that thought complete, the elevator had reached the ground floor. The squad brought their weapons to the ready in case there were mercenaries left behind to cover the entrance. When the door opened, they saw no one waiting for them. Ricky peaked around the corner using his designer sunglasses as a mirror. Still, there was no one around. They exited the elevator and prepared to make their way to the entrance of the building. It felt strange having the building so empty. The last time they passed through here, there had been ongoing fire fights, and men screaming orders to other men. The silence was a bit disturbing. Usually hearing a big commotion in the Zone was a reason to make you nervous, not the opposite.

            Having reached the entrance to the building, the only sounds that could be heard was the diesel generators chugging away providing power to the mercenary camp. Ricky and Iosif took up positions inside of the doorway on each side providing cover. Arkady was facing the opposite way watching their backs. Nadovev couched down behind a windowsill and took out his PDA.

            He called out attempting to make contact Camera, “Camera, are you there? This is Nadovev, do you copy?”

            After a tense moment his voice came over the PDA, “yes I’m here, is everything alright? Have you captured the artifact?” he asked.

            “Yes we’ve got it,” Nadovev replied, “I want you to meet us at the entrance to the building as soon as possible, understood?”

            “Yes, I can see you from my position. I’ll be there in a moment.”

            After a few minutes of standing on guard, Camera appeared jogging towards the building. He looked quite happy to see them alive and well. Nadovev could see that his face was full of questions.

            “We found it,” Nadovev said, “the artifact. We were being pursued by mercenaries, but we managed to lead them into a trap. They’re gone now. No doubt in my mind that they’re dead.” Ricky burst out laughing. Nadovev continued, “all we have to do now is get the hell out of here and back to Skadovsk.”

            Camera nodded, “let’s go then.”

            With that the men of Radiochemical Company got up and began their trek back to Skadovsk, in the hopes of a big pay day. You never knew if your employer was going to live up to his end of the agreement, but Nadovev saw little reason to distrust him. They filed out of the building at a walk. The sun was coming up now and they’d been without sleep for quite a while. Nadovev would have suggested resting first, but this was no place to take a nap. They needed to get to safer ground as quickly as their weary bodies could take them. The walk back was going to be hell. Just taking the front steps of the building was making his exhausted legs ache. From the looks on the faces of the others, they seemed to be in an awful state. They crossed into the first street taking them away from the building and back to “civilization.”

            As they began the long walk through the city, their minds began to drift away with fatigue. The sun was rising quickly spreading light into the treacherous town. Arkady for one was glad to see it. The illumination lifted his spirit as the brooding shadows that carried threats began to vanish. The way was becoming clear to them. It felt like the light at the end of the tunnel, a sight that was welcomed by all.

            The squad had been walking for about twenty minutes when Nadovev started to get the feeling they were being watched. It felt like someone was following them at a near distance, waiting to see where they were going. The feeling totally unnerved him. He looked over at Camera and from the look on his face, he was feeling the same thing. Snipers always had a sense for these things. Their job was not to be seen. Nadovev and Camera made eye contact and read each other’s minds perfectly.

            Nadovev decided he had to say something, “listen up guys,” he whispered, “someone is following us. We need to move faster. On my mark we start running, okay?” He was answered with hushed acknowledgements.

He waited a few more moments, then he said, “Go!”

            The squad took off running. Their tired bodies began to ache under the strain of sleep deprivation. Nadovev hoped to himself that he was wrong and that no one was following them. Camera kept looking back to see if he could spot anyone… It wasn’t long before they could hear boots following them. Whoever was giving chase had ceased to be stealthy. Looking back again, Camera could see that they were being chased by Freedom faction members. As far as he could tell, it was the same ones they had slipped past the Bandits with. This recognition was made just before Freedom started opening fire on them.

            The sound of bullets racing at their heels made even the most worn out of muscles pump harder. As they ran, Freedom was quickly closing the gap between them. Their wild shots were becoming increasingly accurate the closer they got.  Nadovev knew they had to break line of sight in order to avoid as many of the shots as possible. With this many bullets flying, it was only a matter of time before one of them was struck.

            “Shit!” Ricky yelled out as he felt a bullet go right past his hear, only a few centimetres away.

            “Follow me,” Nadovev called out as he turned down a side street. He didn’t know where he was going, but he needed to get them some cover somewhere so that they could begin to fire back. It didn’t take long for the Freedom fighters to make the same turn and resuming their shooting from the hip. Looking ahead, Nadovev realized the error he’d made. He’d lead them right into a dead end. The Freedom fighters saw it too, and stopped firing, and began walking quickly instead of running.

            The street they’d turned down ended at a river. The road just stopped at a metal railing that had mostly fallen off the edge. The squad’s legs ran out of steam as they approached the end of the street. Nadovev’s heart sank, for he’d made the one mistake that no leader was ever supposed to make; he’d lead them into a dead end that would get them killed.

            As the Freedom squad closed in on them, their faces turned to an arrogant triumph. Nadovev looked over the edge down into the river. It looked to be about a ten meter drop. He didn’t need his Geiger counter out to be able to tell that the river was streaming with radiation. He could hear it all the way from his belt. The river had to be at least ten times the lethal dose of radiation. An invisible burn rose from the depth below. It was a deadly fire that was hidden from human senses. There was absolutely no chance of surviving a plunge into that water.

            They were trapped, and Freedom knew it. Radiochemical Company took up a position near the edge. The Freedom faction began moving in at a walk with their weapons raised. Murderous smiles were streaked across their faces.  The legs of Radiochemical Company were stinging with pain and overuse. Freedom moved closer, knowing that they had them trapped.

            “Hand over the artifact and you’ll walk out of here alive,” called out one the Freedom members.

            The artifact suddenly became heavier on Nadovev’s back, a heavier burden. Again he turned towards the river and looked. For a moment he thought he could see a shimmering effect between them and the ground. He looked closer and confirmed his sighting. It was then that he realized there was another sound, one that was being covered up by the furiously popping Geiger counter. His anomaly detector was going off. It was low, they seemed to be some distance away. This realization confirmed his suspicion: there were anomalies between their position and the river.

            “What makes you so sure we have the artifact?” Ricky asked them.

            For a moment Nadovev flashed back to the dream he had a few days ago. The scenario where they were being shot at and they fell into a river. The voice he heard came back into his mind, “There’s only one way out of this, and you know what that it is.” This can’t be a coincidence, he thought. The dream was repeating itself here in the real world. It was the same scenario, far too close to the dream to be an accident. He knew the voice was telling him to jump down off the edge. He couldn’t explain why this was a good idea, he just somehow knew it.

            The Freedom squad member spoke again, “we know you have the artifact. There’s no other reason why you would have been here. There’s no other reason why the mercenaries are gone, you must have killed them. Last warning, turn over the artifact or we’ll open fire.”

            “Hold on a moment,” Nadovev called out to the Freedom squad.

            He motioned for his own squad to huddle together. Understandably, fear was on each of their faces.

            “I have an idea,” Nadovev said, “we refuse to surrender and we jump off this here edge into the river.”

            Ricky looked at him with a blank expression on his face, “uh, no, I’m not going to be doing that. I know that that river is flooded with radiation, more than enough to kill us all easily. So, no.”

            “Trust me,” Nadovev said, “this is the right thing to do. It’s the only way we’re going to get out of this alive. Just trust me, this will work, okay?”

            Camera, Arkady, and Iosif had agitated looks of disbelief on their faces. Slowly dying of radiation poisoning was not better than being shot to death quickly. There was no chance any of them could survive the plunge and then make it to somewhere they could receive the necessary medical treatment. Nadovev’s plan seemed utterly insane to them. But what choice did they have?

            “Alright,” Ricky finally said, “I’ll do it, but I won’t trust you on it.”

            “Good enough,” Nadovev answered, “what about you three?”

Camera, Arkady, and Iosif just nodded, at a complete lost for words.

            “Ricky, please tell Freedom what to do with the artifact.”

            The squad ended their huddle and stood before the Freedom squad. Ricky took a step forward and gave a graphic description of what he thought they should do with the artifact they’ll never get their hands on. Enraged, the Freedom squad opened fire on them. Laughing like a madman Ricky dived off the edge down towards the river. A second later the rest of them followed, Nadovev shoving Arkady off the ledge.

            They felt weightless as they sailed towards the river below. Arkady screamed in fear. For a moment Nadovev regretted his decision, they were going to die in the radioactive waters of Limansk… A white light suddenly overtook them. It was so bright they were unable to see anything. Less than a second later they all impacted with the ground. They had landed in a grassy field.