Nine months later... City perimeter of Khvostovgrad, Novo Oymyakon...
The snow storm continued to press on the group of Oymyakonians that had trekked through the rubble of the city streets for hours. There was a line of individuals who had placed their hands on the shoulders of their comrades, as they carefully shuffled through the thigh-high snow. A small ball of ice ricocheted off the eyepiece of Mykola's thermal mask, as he shook it off and turned to announce: «Ice storm!»
Typically whenever there were ice storms, it led to a declaration of weather emergency. Back in the old days, everyone on the streets would have been under order to head indoors to protect themselves from what would have soon become an ice storm of 10mm pellets of ice akin to buckshot rounds from a shotgun. And with the traditional heavy winds of Novo Oymyakon, it was not unusual to find bodies following the end to such storms.
The group instantly stopped when they heard Mykola's warning, as they turned to find some cover. But soon the hope for the entire situation soon drained, as the Oymyakonians slowly brought themselves back to remember that there were no more buildings left. They had all been destroyed in the early months of the insurrection, when the UNSC returned and bombed Khvostovgrad before they deployed ground troops. The insurrection hid in the Metro after the bombs dropped, as the UNSC took the ground.
Mykola didn't even know what the UNSC were fucking thinking when they dropped the bombs on Khvostovgrad. Perhaps they assumed that would displace the insurrection and lead to an early surrender, but they misunderstood the determination of the Oymyakonians. And when the first snow storm set in, the UNSC on the ground were unprepared for the cold. The first wave of troopers on the ground weren't killed by bullets, they were killed by hypothermia.
«Shelter!» A voice cried out, as Mykola looked towards it. He looked towards the line of insurrectionists that had their hands on their shoulders. Mykola took the arm of one of them, guiding them to the voice.
Three more pellets struck his body as he dragged them to the entrance of the shelter, as two insurrectionists stood by it to help guide them in as they approached. As the last one stepped in, Mykola stepped into the shelter as the two insurrectionists then stepped in and crouched down. He looked down the line of insurrectionists, as they slowly lowered themselves to the ground to sit.
Mykola closed his eyes, as he turned his head away. He couldn't look at the condition of his fellow comrades, as he knew very well that the line had been blinded in the gas attack that finally pushed the Oymyakonians out of the Metro. Many choked, mostly the small ones as they tried to run from the gas. But whatever was in the chemical compound, not only had it suffocated many of the insurrectionists, down in the Metro—but it blinded the ones that it didn't kill.
Mykola opened his eyes as he lowered himself down to the familiar shape, the shape of one of the only friend of his that remained. He slowly reached to the grey coat of Vadim, as he touched the shoulder of his friend as Vadim jumped in response. Mykola spoke out, knowing that now Vadim could no longer see him: «It's Educated Shit, Vadim.»
Vadim released the tension in his body, as he leaned his head back against the brick wall. He coughed, before he spoke weakly: «I fucking realised, Mykola. Is it true? Is there a fucking ice storm?»
Mykola nodded his head, before he then remembered Vadim could no longer see. Mykola spoke then: «Got hit by ice, didn't you?»
«If I didn't—didn't pass through the fucking needles in my skin. Fucking hurts whenever something touches me!»
Mykola lowered his head, as he closed his eyes before he spoke: «I am going to get the one who fucking did this to you, Vadim. They are going to fucking pay for doing this to you!»
«Don't make this all about me, you fucking piece of shit! Make this about everyone else they fucking killed!»
«Alyona... pieces of fucking shit killed her! When the first fucking bombs fell! Now that wasn't enough so they are going to gas everyone else!» Vadim replied, as he stifled, «Fucking shit it burns!»
Mykola watched as Vadim writhed in pain, trying to take a breath as Mykola soon restrained him and made a stern demand: «Hold fucking still! Breathe! Don't get excited, you'll choke yourself!»
Vadim coughed a couple of times as a few heads were turned to witness the scene, eventually Vadim stopped coughing as he took in a shaky breath: «Feels like fucking daggers in my throat!»
Mykola fell completely silent when Vadim said this, as the Oymyakonian started to normalise his breathing once more. Mykola released Vadim's shoulder, as he placed it back on the barrel of his rifle. Mykola had no idea what to say, but he felt obliged to say something to comfort Vadim, and even if it was a lie: perhaps it would calm him down.
«I'll get the first doctors I see to help you.»
«Fucking bullshit!» Vadim replied, coughing again, «You'll first get them to check that little cut you got cutting yourself a healthy slice of fucking bread!»
Mykola shook his head, as he tried to speak before Vadim continued: «They aren't going to help me or anyone else, Educated Shit! You fucking know that, we are a liability now, so that means they will have to fucking kill us!»
The blow of the strong wind replaced the sound of anyone talking, as Vadim sighed in a strained fashion. He spoke again, «This is how it fucking ends, Mykola. At the edge of the fucking city we fought so hard to keep independent. Everything we fucking did doesn't matter anymore, because we are dead men.»
«Until the end?» Mykola asked.
Vadim scoffed, «It ended when the bombs first dropped, Mykola. We lost Khvostovgrad the second it was destroyed by the fascists. All that fighting we did after? Fucking useless! Us trying to keep a dead dream alive!»
«We had potential, Vadim.» Mykola replied, «Only when the fascists started playing dirty did we lose that potential!»
«And who the fuck played dirty first, Mykola?»
There was silence again, as Vadim tried to laugh. This lead to him to experience another coughing spasm, as eventually he stopped from lack of breath. He drew in a few breaths before he continued: «I fucking see it now that my eyes are dead, Mykola. Fuck! I thought you were the realist out of us both! But you just happened to be fucking optimist!»
There was no protest from the fellow Oymyakonians, as they all bowed their heads, knowing the position they were now in. Mykola remained quiet, as Vadim decided to continue: «Now the question is, are we going to get the bullet from the UNSC? Or our own fucking insurrection?»
Mykola shook his head, before he finally decided to reply quietly: «Two guns placed against our head...»
«Can't wait for the fucking execution.» Vadim said sarcastically, «Knowing you though, you would be the first fucking one to pull the trigger!»
The attempt at humour didn't seem to register, as Mykola replied: «I can't believe shit has gotten this fucking bad. Killing fucking children, disabled and elderly! The ones we were supposed to defend, yes?»
«Kuptov doesn't give a shit for anyone who won't help him fucking rule, Mykola!» Vadim spat, «They can't defend us, so we don't need to defend them! Such fucking bullshit! First the defender of the people so that he can get as much support as possible, but when they all fucking die and supplies runs low—suddenly fucking decides to abandon them!»
«The entire fucking planet abandoned us!» A blind rebel replied, «Kuptov will too!»
«Our eyes were stolen for him!» Another blind rebel cried, raising his voice past the daggers in his throat: «And what the fuck has he sacrificed?!»
«Not his eyes!» A third blind rebel shouted, «Not anyone that he gives a fuck about!»
Mykola shook his head, realising that what was happening might formant in a rebellion against the insurrection itself. The Oymyakonians were getting more than fucking anxious, they were getting ready to draw blood. Mykola wasn't sure if it had to do with people realising there was no way out of this war anymore and that they were clamouring for survival... or if the dead was getting ready to drag the living down to hell with them.
A silence took over the group as the sound of the falling hail ceased, as Mykola rose to his feet along with the other Oymyakonians. He helped Vadim up, before resting his hands on his assault rifle once more. He wrapped his fingers around the grips, before he silently stepped out into the street once more. «How much further until our outpost?» Mykola asked.
«Until our deaths, you fuck.» Vadim replied, before another Oymyakonian replied: «Not far, beyond the city borders.»
«We are leaving the city?» Mykola asked, surprised.
«Where else can we go? Everything else is blown to shit!»
«We will fucking die out there!»
«No shit, that might be the fucking point.»
Mykola paused, as he shook his head before continuing to walk forward. He looked towards the blind Vadim, who stumbled weakly across the ground. Mykola closed his eyes for a moment, pained to see the state of his last true friend. The insurrection had taken it's toll on the both of them, but Vadim had it especially bad.
The first days that the UNSC came back, they blew The Romanov to hell in their initial bombardment. Killed thirteen people inside the pub, left Vadim in the middle of the spilt blood of friends, in the ruins of the place that had been his life. Mykola lost his apartment with the leaking pipe and the bed made of towels in the third bombardment. Sergey's Boxing Arena was destroyed in the fifth.
But now that Vadim was pulled through a gas attack, being dragged to a place where no hope is left, knowing that there will soon be a gun placed against his head for his condition. How soon until the same came to Mykola? It did after all nearly happen to him, under the orders of Kuptov. But who at this point was really willing to obey Kuptov?
«State your fucking business!» A voice yelled.
Mykola was pulled back into reality, as he noticed a group of three armed individuals approached their group. Mykola examined the figures carefully, before he was satisfied that they were members of the Insurrection as well: «Survivors from the Metro! Came to regroup under Kuptov's orders!»
«Have red or green armbands?» The voice yelled again.
«Have a mix!» Mykola replied.
It was an odd question to ask. The armbands were originally introduced to determine which Metro station the Insurrection reported to. Green, red, blue and yellow. Blue and yellow armbands were later dissolved as their Metros fell.
The two insurrectionists soon approached, grabbing the members of the group as they separated them into green and red. Vadim was sent to stand next to Mykola, along with a few others who wore a red armband. Mykola shrugged, «Why are we seperating—»
A staccato of gunfire answered Mykola's question, as the line wearing green armbands fell to the floor screaming in pain, as the other soldiers that shot them approached and continued firing into the bodies. Mykola raised his weapon, shouting at them to stop before the third pointed his at Mykola in response, talking in a low voice: «Put your fucking weapon down!»
«Why the fuck are you killing them?!» Mykola shouted back.
«We don't have enough fucking supplies to keep everyone alive anymore! You should feel lucky you are fucking alive right now!»
The firing of the guns stopped, as the two gunmen turned towards the line of Oymyakonians wearing red armbands. «Get the flashlights!» The lead gunman demanded, «Check their eyes!»
As these words registered, Mykola felt as if he had been stripped of all his clothing and he was left standing in the in the elements of the planet. One of the gunmen pulled out a flashlight, turning it on before they approached the line of Oymyakonian's with red armbands. Flashing the light into the eyes of each man standing. One of the blind were spotted, as they seized the man who cried out in shock who was then thrown into the snow as he screamed for help.
«Fucking shit!» Vadim hissed, as he was seized and thrown onto the snow as well once it was determined he was blind. The light fluttered past Mykola's eyes, as his pupils adjusted to the intense light.
There was only two left that stood in the line, as the five blind were separated, and prepared to be taken elsewhere. The lead gunman looked at Mykola and the other Oymyakonian, as he spoke: «Kuptov wants to speak to anyone who brought in anyone with a disability. I suggest you head there now.»
Mykola stood still as the other Oymyakonian followed the gunman, watching as Vadim was dragged off by the gunmen.
«That was an order!» The gunman yelled. Mykola glanced toward him, dropping his head toward the ground before he slowly stepped off toward the direction that the gunman led him to.
It was an order, after all.