Annie glanced over her shoulder at the guard that had been assigned to watch her. She faked a smile, then went back to work on the bacteria. She was close to what she had made in school, but had left out some key steps. The bacteria were deadly if inhaled, but it wasn’t resistant to extreme heat. That meant that if a missile was used to spread it, the bacteria would die once the missile exploded.
“Could you come here please?” Annie asked the guard. “I just can’t seem to open this jar.”
The guard moved towards her as Annie put a mask over her nose and mouth.
“Which jar?” he asked impatiently.
“This one!” said Annie as she smashed one of the Petri dishes on the guard’s face.
The guard gasped in surprise, then grabbed his throat as he suddenly struggled to breathe. Annie snatched his weapon and ran as fast as she could. Without looking, she ran into the hallway and right into General Evil. Annie fell back and tried to shoot, but nothing happened. Two robots that were escorting the general locked and loaded their own weapons and aimed them at her.
“Easy…” said General Evil. “She was kind enough to leave the safety on.” General Evil mocked as he took the gun back. The robots relaxed, but didn’t unload their weapons.
“Just let me go!” said Annie “I didn’t do anything to you!”
“Where is your guard?” General Evil asked, ignoring her plea.
Annie pointed back at the laboratory. General Evil stood her up and pushed her towards the lab. Once back inside, Annie gagged at the site of the guard. He had probably died before she had left the room. All that remained was a body covered in boils.
“Excellent work, Mrs. Easton!” General Evil said sarcastically.
“Please stop. Don’t make me do this anymore!” Annie begged “I made you your weapon. Now let me go be with whatever is left of my family.”
“Of course.” Said General Evil. “But first, a test.”
General Evil struck a match and tossed it into a Petri dish. The dish erupted in flames and sizzled before dying out. All that remained was a black slime.
“You call this a weapon?” asked General Evil
“I don’t know what went wrong.” Said Annie “I was certain—“
General Evil slapped her, knocking her to the floor. Then he kicked over the table and destroyed week’s worth of Annie’s work.
“Don’t toy with me!” yelled General Evil. “I will give you one last chance. Fail me again and you’ll be praying for a death as pleasant as his!” General Evil grabbed Annie by the hair and shoved her head within inches of the dead guard’s face. Annie closed her eyes and held her breath.
“Enough, General.” Came a raspy voice. “Let her get back to work.”
“Dr. Apocalypse.” Said General Evil as he released Annie. “We’ll need another of your guards in here. Make that two. And no more stupid ones, please.”
Dr. Apocalypse ordered two more of his guards to watch Annie work and gave them specific instructions not to approach her, while General Evil’s robots disposed of the dead body. Annie picked up her table and began organizing her instruments. Now that she knew they would test the bacteria before deploying it, she had to find another way to trick them. But how?
* * * * *
“Can I get all first-class passengers, passengers with children and any passengers who need assistance to begin boarding now, please?”
“That’s us.” Said Ryan, who was disguised as a blind man. This way, he and Sawyer could try to plan what to do once they landed. Sawyer was attached to a harness that Ryan was holding onto as he pretended to carefully walk towards the terminal. After a little help from the flight attendant, Ryan and Sawyer were seated and ready to take off.
The person who sat next to Ryan was Ukrainian. This was perfect because Ryan now had a chance to get to know someone who could help them with whatever they may need. They had to leave their guns behind, so they were basically unarmed and would need to find weapons of some sorts. Unfortunately, Ryan was having a hard time getting a word in…
“This country, it is nice, yes.” Said the passenger in a heavy eastern European accent. “But is too busy for me. I prefer country side on a farm.”
“Oh, do you live on—“ Ryan tried to ask a question, but was cut off.
“We farm and we farm and we farm and we do it for the children and do you know what they give to us? Nothing! They say, ‘Oh, we need money! Oh, we need cars!’ You need cars? You get money and then you get cars!” the stranger rambled on.
“Yeah…” said Ryan
“And it’s time to harvest and the kids all say, ‘Oh, we want to visit our friends!’ and I tell them, ‘You bring your friends here and I’ll put them to work!” but they don’t listen to me!” he explained.
“Is it harvest time now?” Ryan asked, kicking himself for encouraging the stranger.
“Oh yes! And where are the children? Not in the fields! No, they are here and there and buying things with my money and…”
Ryan cut him off.
“Do you need help with the harvest? I have time. In exchange for my help, if I could crash at your place for a few days with my dog, we’d appreciate it.” Said Ryan
“Crash?” asked the stranger
“Sleep.” Said Ryan
“I thought you were blind?” said the stranger
“No, I just don’t like paying extra to bring my dog.” Said Ryan
“Well, sure! I’ll put you to work, no problem!” said the stranger.
“Great. My name is ‘Ryan’, by the way.” Said Ryan.
“Bryan, my name is Mikhail.” Said the stranger.
“Oh, it’s actually ‘Ryan’, not ‘Bryan’. Can I call you ‘Mik’?” asked Ryan
“No, Bryan, my name is Mikhail. You must never take away part of the name that was given to me by my parents. You see, Bryan, I take great pride in my name and…”
Ryan glanced at Sawyer who was pretending to sleep. This was going to be a long flight.
* * * * *
After landing, Ryan loaded their luggage into Mikhail’s truck and rode with him to his house which was just outside the Kiev city limits. Once home, Mikhail introduced Ryan to the rest of his family. Most were pleasant, but one was fat and loud. His name was Dmitri, and he went on and on about nothing.
“What do you do?” asked Ryan
“Work?” laughed Dmitri “I don’t have time for work! My family provides me with whatever I need while I provide them with whatever I can.”
“And what do you provide them?” Ryan asked
“Knowledge.” Said Dmitri “I know things that most people have no idea about. Did you know that our government intentionally caused the Chernobyl disaster just so it would have an excuse to keep people away from that area so they could build a secret military facility? There’s no radiation there!” said Dmitri
“I think there is.” Said Ryan
“No, I spent days there. And look! I’m perfectly fine!” said Dmitri
Ryan passed up the chance at a joke.
“Did you find the military base?” asked Ryan
“No, but I was ready for it. I had half of my weapons cache with me.” Said Dmitri
Sawyer’s ears perked up and Ryan blurted out, “You have a weapons cache?”
“Yes. Want to see it?” asked Dmitri
Dmitri brought Ryan and Sawyer to his home down the street. Once inside, he pulled away a rug and opened a hidden door in the floor. Ryan expected to find old World War II weapons, but was shocked at the quality of the weapons and attachments.
“Where did you get all of this!?” Ryan exclaimed
“My sources.” Said Dmitri.
Ryan picked up an M-4 carbine with an ACOG sight, a riot shotgun, Colt .45 pistols, ammo for all and even a few grenades.
“How much for all of this?” asked Ryan
“Why do you need it?” asked Dmitri
“I’m on a mission. I have no weapons or ammo and I need these to do what I need to do.” Said Ryan
“Very well. I’ll take your dog.” Said Dmitri
“No you won’t.” said Ryan without hesitating. “$2,000, American.”
“$3,000.” Dmitri countered.
“2,800, and throw in this and this.” Said Ryan as he picked up a silenced Dragunov sniper rifle and a Taser.
“Deal.” Said Dmitri.
* * * * *
Ryan worked in the fields of Mikhail’s farm for a week. While he worked, Sawyer would sneak into town with their laptop and look for wireless signals he could use to search for clues.
‘There just doesn’t seem to be anything happening here.’ Thought Sawyer
He clicked on a few more pages, but gave up and closed the laptop. As he was leaving town, he noticed a billboard with a picture of a memorial on it. It was of the firefighters who died trying to contain the Chernobyl disaster area.
‘Chernobyl… Why didn’t I think of that before? Tours there are illegal and the ones that do take place are restricted. I bet we could find clues if we went to those restricted locations!’ he thought to himself.
Sawyer ran all the way back to Mikhail’s farm where he found Ryan putting away his tools for the night.
“Find anything yet?” asked Ryan
“We need to check out Chernobyl. That’s the perfect place for such a hideout.” Said Sawyer
Ryan agreed and the two spent the evening reviewing maps and preparing their gear. Sawyer was checking his M-4 when Mikhail walked in and saw him holding the weapon. It was the first time he had been speechless since Ryan had met him.
“Mikhail! Relax! He’s okay.” Said Ryan
Sawyer set the gun down and dropped to all fours like a normal dog.
“He’s with me, Mikhail. We need to leave in the morning. We’re on a mission.” Said Ryan
Mikhail regained some of his composure and asked, “Are you here for the general and the doctor?”
“General Evil?” asked Ryan
“He is, yes. I could feel it when he came here. The general and the doctor with the iron jaw. They came and took my son. I was going to call the authorities, but they threatened me with an army of robots.” Mikhail sobbed.
“Yeah, that’s him. General Evil. Give me a picture of your son and I’ll look for him. Do you know where they went?” asked Ryan
“They went north.” Said Mikhail
“North!” said Sawyer. “Chernobyl is north of here!”
“I will help you.” Said Mikhail
“Three’s a crowd, Mikhail.” Said Ryan. “Let us handle this.”
“I won’t be in your way, but when the time comes, I will be there to assist.” Said Mikhail
“We appreciate it.” Said Ryan. “I don’t know who the iron-jawed doctor is though. Was there anything else about him you remember?”
“He wore these strange glasses. And his face was burned so badly.” Said Mikhail
A chill ran down Ryan’s spine as the fur on Sawyer’s back stood straight up.
“It can’t be…” said Ryan. He and Sawyer looked at each other and said it at the same time.