Farmer

The Outpost

Early May, 2012

“This way,” Stasya said, leading Megs towards the transport truck. Boris was already waiting in the driver’s seat. She’d found him first last night, covered with mud and her hands ashy from where she’d gathered what she could of Evgeny. Boris had looked up at her, snow white with a track of red down each cheek.

He’d gone to get Stasya immediately, and then they had both gone to the library, leaving Megs to stare at the dust of her friend that covered her hands.

“It’s a shame you chose the path of the Crimson my dear,” he’d said one night, reading over part of the translation she had been working on. “You seem to enjoy studying the particulars of our existence.”

“Oh, well, I mean I do, but I’m not smart enough to be in the Azure.”
“What is that nonsense about?” He’d said, looking at her over the table with filmy eyes. “One need not be brilliant to study, one merely needs a thirst for knowledge. That my dear, you do have. Whoever made you think you need to only have intelligence for the Azure was in the wrong. One must have fortitude, as with all our paths. The Sable have fortitude of spirit, to decide how we must steer through these tumultuous nights. The Axe must have fortitude of heart, to do what must be done when words cannot see us through. And the Azure must have fortitude of will to press on through the unknown towards enlightenment.” He had smiled at her, his two teeth gleaming dully in the dim light.His words had buoyed her some, and she’d smiled at him. If only she’d had a Sire like this man instead of one that had chosen to break her over and over until she fit the mould he’d chosen for her.“You have fortitude of all sorts my dear, you need only to trust in yourself. It makes me sad to see a promising student disparaged by herself. Trust in yourself and persevere and you will be fine,” he’d said, standing with a grunt. “I will go get us some refreshments, yes?”

“Kayta? We are here,” Boris said, nudging her with his elbow. Megs blinked, looking up at Boris. That was strange, hadn’t he just left with Stasya to look at the library? Wait, no, that had been last night.“Where is ‘here’?” She asked, climbing out of the truck and looking around. Stasya was already out, her rifle slung over a shoulder as she scanned the area.“The Farm. You will… understand soon,” Boris said. The lines on his face were deeper than they had been, and Megs wondered if the death of Evgeny was weighing on him as well.“Da, soon,” he said, locking the truck and drawing out two rifles from the back. One he tossed to her, while he racked a round into the other. “Ilya, he has said that you are pretty handy with that. If you see someone that you do not know on the way, you shoot first and then ask questions. Stasya will tell you when to shoulder your weapon.” He looked over at the Sheriff who nodded, a scarf of red tied around her waist.

Crimson.

Of course.

“Right,” Megs said, checking the rifle over before racking it and looking to Stasya once more. She had no idea where they were going, but the look on the woman’s face suggested it was best not to ask.“Follow, Boris will take up the rear.”They left the road, travelling down a path choked with brush. The trees were all younger here, and through the undergrowth, Megs could see huge fallen logs, as if the entire forest had been blown over in one tremendous storm. Each and every of the fallen trees pointed in the same direction, and Megs couldn’t help but realise they were walking downhill.Where was this?

The crack of a gunshot echoed through the woods, and Megs blinked, snapping her head towards the sound. Stasya had fallen into a crouch, and had her eyes trained up ahead.

“Four. Three now,” she said, motioning for them to move forward. Megs nodded, letting her eyesight sharpen to pick out… There. A flash of green that was the wrong texture, and her own rifle cracked in the night air. There was a scream and the flash of wrong fell. Not a kill, but it seemed the thing was down for now.

Beside her, Boris had fired, and was scanning the area.

“One left.” Stasya motioned for them to move forward slowly, combing through the undergrowth while she climbed up the nearest sturdy pine. From the corner of her eye, Megs caught a glint of metal and leapt forward to shove Boris down. The following rapport of the rifle echoed, and fire bloomed in her chest. Strong hands steadied her as she staggered for a moment, hissing as she looked down to find a hole in her.

“Clear,” Stasya said from her perch.

“You are alright?” Boris asked, and Megs nodded, prodding at where the bullet had punched through just to the right of her heart.

“Yeah just stings a little,” she said, looking up at him. “What about you?”

“Grazed. Thank you,” He said with a nod, picking up her dropped rifle and handing it to her. Along one shoulder his jacket had parted, and she could see sliced flesh underneath. But he wasn’t severely hurt.

“We will fix you up once we arrive,” Stasya said, hopping down from the tree and walking over to them. “Search them. If one is alive, we will bring him with us.”

Megs nodded, letting the vitae in her system start to close the exit wound. She kept her eyes busy, scanning the forest as she moved to where she’d downed the shape earlier.

The man had tried to drag himself away into the undergrowth, and he whimpered as Megs approached.

“Please!” he said, rolling over and holding up bloody hands. There was a lot of blood, but it smelled normal, not like vitae. “Please don’t hurt us. We’re campers.” He did look like a hiker, wearing civilian gear instead of anything military issued. Megs frowned, training the rifle on him while she searched his pockets.

Nothing.

No food save for a half eaten sandwich and the water bottle was still mostly full. A camper would have more food on them, wouldnt’ they? Deft fingers undid the collar of his jacket, now slick and black with blood. Tugging down his shirt, she saw the cross.

Picture

“Don’t kill that one,” Stasya said, three other crosses hanging from her hand, both soaked in blood. The man whimpered as he saw them, but met her look with holy zeal.“You have been judged! You are committing heresies that will not be tolerated!” He said, only to stop as Megs pressed a knee into his wound.“I hate fanatics,” she muttered, standing and moving back so that Boris could shoulder the wounded man.“As do we all,” Stasya said, leading the way forward. They continued on their downward path, the trees growing twisted and stunted the further they travelled. The man had passed out at some point, either from pain or bloodloss, but neither Boris nor Stasya seemed concerned.

“Shoulder your weapons,” Stasya said, holding up her hand. “Let me speak first before you are introduced.” Megs nodded in reply, flicking on the safety before she slung the gun over her shoulder.

They descended a steep incline, and through the trees, Megs could see a small farm. There was not much of a field, but there were some pigs and a handful of reindeer that were watching the approaching group intently.

Who would build a farm here of all places?

As they approached, the door of the small cabin swung open, and an elderly man stood there, watching them. Stasya lifted her hand and made a sign in the air as they walked down.

“What has happened now? And why do you bring me this?” The man said, turning his eyes towards Megs. He looked human, he looked terrifyingly human and old. But the beast that emanated from him shook her. She’d never felt anyone near so strong as that.He smiled, and motioned them to go into the cabin.“Please, I’ll put on some tea. Won’t you come in? Boris, I will get that shoulder of yours fixed as we talk.”“Kayta, this is Grand Wyrm Vsevolod Yudashkin, Vseya this is Katya McDermott, one of the students of the outpost. She was friends with Evgeny.”
The man nodded, and walked over to Megs, resting his callused and arthritic hands on either side of her face.

“You were close to my Childe. I am sorry my dear.”

Childe? Oh… oh no….

“I’m so sorry,” she said, biting her lip.

“Nyet,” he brushes a rough thumb across her cheek and tilts her head to the side. “Nyet, do not be sorry for you will be the one who puts his soul to rest. You will be going to Moscow soon my dear. And then you will be going home. Now please, do come in and we will figure out what to do with that one,” Vsevolod said, letting go of Megs and waving dismissively at the man that Boris was holding.

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