Author Topic: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic  (Read 3947 times)

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Offline Nictionary

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Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
« on: May 07, 2017, 09:57:39 PM »
Hey everyone.  So, a few months ago I watched Sword of Gideon, the 1986 made-for-TV film on which Spielberg based Munich.  The germ of an idea for a story took root in my head then, but it is only now, as I head into finals week, that I have time to put my thoughts to paper and the need to relieve stress by doing so.  I'll just have to see where this goes.  In the meantime, enjoy and feel free to comment and criticize.

...

February 8, 1919

   A thick haze of cigarette smoke filled the room where 7 men sat at a large table covered with a green baize cloth.  Outside it was windy and pouring rain.  Promptly at 9:30 a short man in full uniform walked in and asked the others to sit down.  Admiral Kolchak thumped the table and called the meeting to order.

   “Gentlemen, I have summoned you for a very important purpose.  Yesterday I appointed Judge Sokolov to investigate the murder of our late tsar, and the disappearance of the august imperial family.  His findings will be vital to the endeavor which is the subject of this meeting.  The murder of Nicholas, and what increasingly looks like that of his family as well, has introduced a new form of barbarism into the world.  All of you here are part of a select group, which I have decided to call Committee Ze, tasked with formulating a response to this atrocity.  Were it not for the fluid situation in the Motherland, we would have started many months ago.  I want your ideas.  Stepanov?”  He turned to the minister of war.

   “I have actually been thinking, Your Excellency, of a possible idea.  We shall fight fire with fire.  The socialists used to target the tsar’s regime with waves of assassins.  Could it not be contrived for Sokolov to identify those individuals involved with this crime, so that they might be eliminated on an individual basis? ‘And almost all things, according to the law, are cleansed with blood: and without shedding of blood there is no remission.’”

   “Not a bad idea,” said General Kirsta, head of military intelligence.  “I’m starting to like the sound of this.”

   Miroshnichenko, chief of the Intelligence Department, nodded in agreement.  “It would be a fitting way to honor the memory of the Imperial martyrs.”

   “It might also deter the Reds from committing such outrages in the future,” said Sukin, the foreign minister. 

   “In that case,” said Sapozhnikov, the minister of education, “if we are going to launch an assassination campaign, we should do it in a dramatic fashion, so that it sends a message.”

   “Yes,” said Telberg.  “Your Excellency, we really have to do this.”

   Two more men remained at the table, Adrian Bylinkin and Yaroslav Mikhailov, both top intelligence officials.  They, too, urged Kolchak to authorize the assassination of those involved in the execution of the Romanov family.  “Give us the order and we begin,” were Mikhailov’s concluding words.

   There was a long silence, broken only by the spatter of rain against the windows, the noise of the wind and the ticking of a clock.  Kolchak sat at the baize-covered table, his hands clasped in front of him, while the others waited for him to speak.  It was Kolchak’s decision now, and even Stepanov, usually eager to press his  own case, sat silently, looking at him.  Nearly 5 minutes passed, and then Kolchak said in a low voice, “I am quite positive we must go ahead and give the order.  I don’t like it, but there it is.  I don’t see how we can possibly do anything else.  ‘You will smite them with a rod of iron and break them like a potter’s vessel.’”
   
   Then he stood up and walked to the door.  The order had been given.
« Last Edit: May 07, 2017, 09:59:49 PM by Nictionary »
The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about it.

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Offline edubs31

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Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
« Reply #1 on: May 08, 2017, 01:46:35 PM »
Sounds pretty good. Post some more scenes if you're up for sharing them.

The fateful year & turning point for Kolchak and the White Army. I believe he was executed exactly one-year after this scene of yours.

In my writings - much of which is posted on here - one thing I tried to watch out for as things progressed was the use of adverbs like "really". I'm not really certain, but some of these phrases sound too modern and folksy to me and likely would not have been used by Russians in the early-20th century (at least not in any official capacity).
Once in a while you get shown the light, in the strangest of places if you look at it right...

Offline Nictionary

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Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
« Reply #2 on: May 08, 2017, 03:22:30 PM »
Quote
In my writings - much of which is posted on here - one thing I tried to watch out for as things progressed was the use of adverbs like "really". I'm not really certain, but some of these phrases sound too modern and folksy to me and likely would not have been used by Russians in the early-20th century (at least not in any official capacity).

Good point.  I'll have to do my homework on that aspect as well.  Thanks for pointing that out.
The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about it.

Albert Einstein

Offline Nictionary

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Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
« Reply #3 on: May 10, 2017, 04:03:19 AM »
   Please note that this story may contain expressions of anti-semitism by some of the characters.  These expressions in no way reflect my own views.
   
   March 4,1919

   A few weeks later, the same men were gathered around the same table in the same room.
   
   “We have chosen the targets,” Bylinkin began.  “25 men in all, each of them complicit in one way or another in the murder of the tsar.  Sokolov’s findings, and the interrogation of those of the murderers whom we have in our custody have been the primary source from which the list I am about to present to you has been compiled.  However, we also have assets among the ranks of the Bolsheviks, and Allied intelligence has also shared information with us which has helped us in our task.”
   
   He produced a file folder, reached inside, and placed a grainy photograph of a bearded, well-built man on the tabletop. 
   
   “First on  the list is the Jew Yakov Yurovsky,” said Bylinkin.  He paused for a moment, then continued.  “I do not have to tell you who he is.  The chief of the assassins.”
   
   He produced another picture, this one showing a wild-eyed man with shoulder-length hair.  “Pyotr Yermakov,” he explained, “Bolshevik commissar, and another man who literally has the tsar’s blood on his hands.”
   
   Another photo was placed on the table.  “Grigory Nikulin, Yurovsky’s lieutenant.  Our intelligence indicates he also took part in the murder of other members of the tsar’s retinue.”
   
   Kolchak picked up the photo, studied it for a moment and passed it to Stepanov.
   
   Another picture.  “Mikhail Kudrin, also known as Medvedev.”
   
   And another.  “Rudolf Lacher.”
   
   More photos.  “Yakov Sverdlov…Pyotr Voikov…Aleksandr Beloborodov.”  Bylinkin placed another photo on the table as Kolchak picked up that of Beloborodov.  “Filipp Goloshchekin…Georgy Safarov…Sergei Chutskayev…”  By the time Bylinkin was finished, 25 photos lay in a disorderly pile on the tabletop.  He gathered them together, put them back in the folder, and handed it to Telberg, who had before him another folder, thick with documents.  Telberg opened the folder, took a photo, matched it with a document, and signed it.  He took another document and another photo and signed again.
   
   Kolchak turned to Miroshnichenko.  “Good work.  Now that you have identified these savages, your next task will be to locate each of them and bring them to justice.”
   
   Miroshnichenko nodded.  “Adrian Savelievich, I trust you will begin that next stage of the plan forthwith.”
   
   “Yes, sir,” answered Bylinkin.  “Yaroslav Afanasievich and I will do so immediately.”
   
   “There is an additional aspect of this that must be considered,” said Sukin.  “As you know, the Allies are rather lukewarm in their support of us.  Partly this is due to the Yids’ whining over the pogroms.  I do not think we can count on widespread support from the West if our direction of this campaign were to become widespread public knowledge.  Plus, our determined pursuit of the tsar’s assassins might make it look like we are taking a more monarchist position, which could alienate potential supporters.  Therefore, I would suggest that we make sure there is no evidence which can tie us directly to the operation.”

   “Excellent point,” said Mikhailov.  “We will make sure of that.  We will stress that to the teams that will carry out the operation.” 
   
   “One final point,” said Miroshnichenko.  “I want to emphasize again that this campaign is not just about revenge, but it is also intended to generally terrorize the Soviets.  We want to make them look over their shoulders and feel that we are upon them.  We want to sow terror in their ranks.”

   “Very well,” said the Admiral.  “I am satisfied with your progress thus far.  Keep doing as you are doing, and I look forward to seeing the results soon.”
The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about it.

Albert Einstein

Offline Nictionary

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Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
« Reply #4 on: May 12, 2017, 01:57:11 AM »
March 14, 1919
   
   In the space of the last ten days, more significant events had crowded into Captain Nikifor Yuryev’s life than in all his previous years combined.  It had all begun that day when he was summoned into his commanding officer’s office and informed that had been selected for a very special mission, and without further ado he was whisked into a staff car and taken to the train, which took him to Omsk.  Another staff car was waiting there, and soon he was sitting in Miroshnichenko’s office. 
   “Ah, Captain Yuryev,” said the spy chief.  “As you can probably deduce, what is happening here is very important.  I don’t have to tell you.  You know you wouldn't be here if it was not important.  You have been chosen, upon recommendation, to undertake a mission.  An important mission, I don’t have to tell you.  But I will tell you that it’s a dangerous mission.  You won’t be able to talk about it with anyone, of course.  Not even your wife.  Especially not your wife, if she’s like mine.”
   Yuryev laughed, but then was silent for a few seconds, What could the mission possibly be?
   He had to say something, so he asked the first question off the top of his head.  “Would I be working alone?”
   “No,” said Miroshnichenko.  “But that’s not the point right now.  Do you accept this mission?”
   “I’ll have… I’ll have to think about it,” said Yuryev.  “What if I tell you in a few days?”
   He wasn’t sure why he hesitated.  It certainly wasn’t the danger.  Yuryev didn’t care about that, not after four years of war.  So why was he hesitating?  True, his wife Marfa was pregnant.  But it wasn’t that either. 
   Miroshnichenko shook his head.  “You have till tonight,” he said.  “Think it over.  Report back here by 11 o’clock.”
   
   When he reported to Miroshnichenko on the dot of 11 that night, the spy chief seemed uninterested.  “Yes?” he asked, looking up from his desk.
   “I’ll do it,” said Yuryev.
   Miroshnichenko nodded in a detached, unemotional way, as though Yuryev’s response had been the only one possible.
   “Wait outside for a moment,” he said.  “I want you to meet someone.”
   The man to whom Yuryev was introduced fifteen minutes later was tall and somewhat professorial.  Adrian Savelievich Bylinkin was middle-aged, with prematurely graying hair and somewhat stooped shoulders.  His mouth had a melancholy set to it, though his blue eyes were animated.  He was pleasant.  More importantly, from the moment they first shook hands, he had a way of talking to Yuryev as if they were well-acquainted.
   “You’re going to be reporting to me for this mission,” he said.  “Right now we’re still feeling our way through this.  You probably have many questions, and I might not have all the answers yet.  You’ll have to be patient.  Let’s take a walk.”
   They walked over to a nearby park and strolled along the dusty path that wound through it.
   Later Yuryev realized that even though Bylinkin had told him what his mission would be in the first five minutes, he didn’t really understand it for two more days.  In one sense he understood it, but in a deeper, fundamental sense, he didn’t.
   Bylinkin said, “We have decided to put together a team to go after the murderers of the Romanovs.  We have twenty-five names.  Each had a hand in planning the murders.  You’re going to kill them.  Twenty-five men, one by one.  But before we talk about this, let’s talk about procedure.”
   The procedure involved cabling Marfa to let her know he would not be home for a few days, then reporting to an address in downtown Omsk.  There, in an apartment beneath a dry goods store,  he stayed alone with Bylinkin for forty-eight hours.  Every now and then Bylinkin would leave for an hour or so during which time another man would stay with Yuryev - “to keep you company,” as Bylinkin put it.  He wasn’t much company, though, since never spoke a word: it was clear that he was there to keep an eye on Yuryev and make sure he didn’t leave or use the telephone.
   Bylinkin talked operation with Yuryev.  The Intelligence Department had given the matter much consideration, Bylinkin said, and decided that the best way to proceed was with a small, self-contained group.  A team that was composed of experts in various fields.
   The more Bylinkin talked, the more interested and excited Yuryev became.This was big. This was the real thing. He could organize this. With such a mission, he could show them his mettle. But he was careful to reveal none of his enthusiasm to Bylinkin.
   It was just as well. Because, at this point, Yuryev still didn’t understand what the mission was really about. He did—but he did not. Understanding came only when, after a short break for lunch, Bylinkin told him to start asking questions.
   “This team,” said Yuryev, “do I put it together?”
   “No. We have already selected the members.”
   “When can I meet them?”
   “Patience,” Bylinkin said with a smile, “everything in good time.”
   “All right, what are they experts in?”
   “Including you, the team consists of fifteen people divided into five squads: ‘A’, a pair of trained killers; ‘Be’, two guards who will shadow the As; ‘I’, two agents who will handle logistics; ‘O’, comprising six agents who form the core of the operation, surveilling targets and establishing an escape route for the A and Be squads; and ‘Kha’, two agents specializing in communications.  You’re the team leader.  We want everyone to read in Pravda some famous Bolshevik is dead, who knows who blew him up?”
   “Are there other teams? Or - - -”
   “You’re underprepared.  But you’ll figure it out."
   And now finally, this afternoon, Yuryev and Bylinkin were driving to an apartment on the outskirts of Omsk to meet the rest of the team.  A young, serious-looking girl led them into another room, then closed the door behind them.
   The eleven men and four women in the room looked up as they entered.  All were dressed casually, except for one who was wearing a suit and tie.
   There was a split second of silence.  Yuryev and the others were looking at each other. 
   “Well,” said Bylinkin.  He stopped and cleared his throat.  “Everybody, I want you to meet Nikifor Mikhailovich.  He’s going to be in charge of the mission.  Nikifor Mikhailovich, this is your A squad, Mikhail Nikolaevich and Natalia Mikhailovna…”
   Yuryev shook hands firmly with Mikhail, but he turned to Bylinkin and asked, “Are you telling me that Natalia Mikhailovna is a trained killer?”
   “Yes, sir,” beamed Natalia with pride.  “I was trained at a special camp in the Baikal Mountains.  Mikhail and I can use suppressed pistols, deliver toxins via injection or food, even strangle someone with a cheese cutter.”
   “And this is your Be squad, Feliks Andreevich and Angelika Victorovna…”
   “I didn’t realize the Intelligence Department had so many women,” said Yuryev. 
   “In espionage, like in police work, there is nothing better than having a woman accomplice on hand,” said Bylinkin.  “Let’s say you are shadowing a target— say, waiting in a car — and have a lady with you, you are far less likely to be questioned.  This is your I squad, Galina Vladimirovna and Zakhar Ruslanovich… your O squad, Artemiy Yevgenievich, Lazar Igorevich, Nikita Anatolievich, Samuil Konstantinovich, Artyem Makarovich and Andrei Vadimovich… and your Kha squad, Tikhon Vasilievich and Olesya Valerievna.”
   
« Last Edit: May 12, 2017, 02:21:33 AM by Nictionary »
The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about it.

Albert Einstein

Offline Nictionary

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Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
« Reply #5 on: May 12, 2017, 02:54:24 AM »
“These people have all been selected for the team because of their various skills,” said Bylinkin.  “All right, we haven’t got all the time in the world.  Let’s sit down and go over some details. This will be our only meeting together. The next time you see each other will be on the mission.”
   Yuryev was too tense to sit.  He watched Zakhar refilling his pipe, wishing for the first time in his life that he was a smoker.  The others all seemed completely relaxed.  Artemiy was patting his pockets, concerned only with finding a match.  Yuryev took a deep breath.
   All right. Steady, he told himself.
   “The schedule is as follows,” said Bylinkin.  “Two more days of refresher courses for everyone except Zakhar Ruslanovich and Nikifor Mikhailovich.  That takes us up to the 16th.  That will be a day off; I expect everyone to settle his personal affairs.  On the 17th you will go to Perm.  Choose your own routes and times individually, but get there within two days.  Once there, report to Nikifor Mikhailovich; he will give you the details.  While you are doing your refresher courses, Nikifor Mikhailovich and Zakhar Ruslanovich will look at the list of targets we have prepared. By the time you meet in Perm, they will know as much about them as we do, and they will brief you there.
   “All right. We will give you the list of the targets in order of importance to us, as we see it, but the sequence in which you get them is up to you. Just find them and get them. First come, first served.
   “Now it seems to me that this covers everything. After the 17th you are on your own.  I have every confidence in you.”   
   
   Okay, the next scene should finally include some action.
« Last Edit: May 12, 2017, 03:09:50 AM by Nictionary »
The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about it.

Albert Einstein

Offline Kalafrana

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Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
« Reply #6 on: May 12, 2017, 03:12:20 AM »
A couple of points of pedantry:
1) People didn't dress 'casually' in 1919. If you look at old photographs, men, including those of modest backgrounds, routinely wore suits and ties, plus hats when out of doors. A photograph of my paternal grandfather, who was a fitter from Liverpool, taken in 1913 (he was born in 1878, so 35 at the time), shows him in a suit and a wing collar. The difference between him and, say, a barrister, would be the quality of the suit. Also the haircut - he had what is known in English usage as pudding basin haircut - nothing below an inch above the ears. For your purposes, you could distinguish between characters on the basis of the quality and fit of their suits. Alternatively, some of them could be wearing uniform. Another point about appearance is that most men then had moustaches.
2) 'Yes, sir' isn't Russian usage. The Table of Ranks prescribed modes of address for everyone on it. Kolchak was an Excellency. A junior officer (Captain, Lieutenant, 2nd Lieutenant) was 'Your Nobility'.

Hope that helps

Ann

Offline Nictionary

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Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
« Reply #7 on: May 12, 2017, 03:20:15 AM »
Point 1 is well-taken.  As for point 2, do you you know where I can find a copy of the table which includes forms of address?
The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about it.

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Offline Kalafrana

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Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
« Reply #8 on: May 12, 2017, 03:43:20 AM »
There is a copy of the Table of Ranks in wikipedia.

Thinking more about the clothes point, even teenage boys routinely wore suits. I also have a photograph of my maternal grandfather, taken in 1902 when he was 17. This is during the period when he was stranded in Sydney after being packed off to sea by his father and stepmother at the age of 14. Does he look like a sailor? Not at all! He is wearing a smart suit and a collar so stiff that it makes my neck hurt to contemplate it. Later on, he went to Canada and was briefly reconciled with his father and stepmother, who had by then gone there (to escape his father's creditors!). He and his father made a dugout canoe, and there is a photo of them standing in it - wearing suits and hats!

You could distinguish between city-type suits and 'country' suits (in the UK that would be tweed), and have your smarter characters in stiff collars.   

Ann

Offline JamesAPrattIII

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Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
« Reply #9 on: May 13, 2017, 07:46:00 PM »
Ann good points on the clothes but in Russia during the Civil war clothing was hard to come by. I would say of the agents some would be in uniform or parts of uniforms some would be in Russian peasant clothing no suits and ties. The women would be wearing dresses or skirts and blouses a mixture of western and Russian peasant attire. Note many of the soldiers and officers in the White armies in Siberia were often described as ragged looking. uniforms would not be only Russian it could include German, Austrian and British. The first two were from POWs the latter were sent as aid during the Russian Civil war. Also being March in Siberia everyone would be wearing heavy coats. Also note for a woman to wear a hat or a man to wear a starched collar was enough to sometimes get you arrested as a bourgeois by the reds during the Russian civil war.

I don't think Kolchak would have discussed this sort of plan in front of his cabinet for security reasons. I also don't think the Whites at this time would have had photos of all the men involved. Admiral Kolchak from what I have read about him doesn't look like the sort of man to have had anything to do with this sort of plot. I should also point out at this time the Whites were confident that they were going to defeat the Reds by the end of the year 1919.

I'll have more keep up the good work

Offline Nictionary

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Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
« Reply #10 on: May 14, 2017, 01:35:04 AM »
Quote
Ann good points on the clothes but in Russia during the Civil war clothing was hard to come by. I would say of the agents some would be in uniform or parts of uniforms some would be in Russian peasant clothing no suits and ties. The women would be wearing dresses or skirts and blouses a mixture of western and Russian peasant attire. Note many of the soldiers and officers in the White armies in Siberia were often described as ragged looking. uniforms would not be only Russian it could include German, Austrian and British. The first two were from POWs the latter were sent as aid during the Russian Civil war. Also being March in Siberia everyone would be wearing heavy coats. Also note for a woman to wear a hat or a man to wear a starched collar was enough to sometimes get you arrested as a bourgeois by the reds during the Russian civil war.

Thanks so much, James.  Very useful indeed, I'll keep it all in mind.

Quote
I don't think Kolchak would have discussed this sort of plan in front of his cabinet for security reasons.

If the story gave the impression he was discussing it with his entire cabinet, then that is a flaw in my writing ability.  I was trying to portray him as discussing it with a select group within his cabinet, including those ministers such as war, justice and foreign affairs whose portfolios would have had bearing on such a plan; similar to the way Obama restricted knowledge of Operation Neptune's Spear to a small circle within the NSC.

Quote
I also don't think the Whites at this time would have had photos of all the men involved.

The transcript of Pavel Medvedev's interrogation shows that by February 1919, the Whites had a photo of Yurovsky in their possession, but perhaps you're right and I took too much artistic license here.

Quote
Admiral Kolchak from what I have read about him doesn't look like the sort of man to have had anything to do with this sort of plot.

Again, I failed to convey my desired portrayal of him.  I was trying to make it seem like he was reluctantly authorizing the campaign.
The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about it.

Albert Einstein

Offline Nictionary

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Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
« Reply #11 on: May 23, 2017, 03:09:27 AM »
Sorry for the delay.  This scene may contain some profanity.



April 7, 1919

   Bylinkin felt the familiar drumbeat of adrenaline in his neck. “The target has left the canteen.  He’s on his way to the tram,” Artemiy reported.  Bylinkin checked his pocket watch, then lit a cigarette.  It was 2130 hours.  He estimated that in just under an hour the two-week undercover operation would come to a close.  He and the team were on the verge of assassinating Mikhail Medvedev.
   In the months since the massacre in Yekaterinburg, Medvedev had risen within the ranks of the Cheka and was now working in its Information Department.  The team had been working undercover for over two weeks, on foot and in cars, from close and afar, watching his every move.  Now Andrei and Samuil followed him as he walked toward his apartment building in southern Moscow on Kaluzhskaya Square.
   Two weeks of following Medvedev had led to a simple assassination plan.  Medvedev walked around in the open and allowed his habits to fall into a pattern.  Bylinkin and Yuryev drew up a plan based on Medvedev’s predictable schedule: Mikhail and Natalia would wait and then kill him at the entrance to his home. 
   Earlier that evening, at around 2030 hours, a car driven by a young resident of Moscow had picked the latter two up a couple of blocks from their hotel, the Budapesht, just where Petrovka Ulitsa meets Ulitsa Kuznetsky Most.  Driving at a leisurely pace - by Russian standards - the car proceeded down Petrovka Ulitsa and turned right onto Mokhovaya Ulitsa, crossed the Moskva river by way of the Bolshoy Kamenny Most, and again where Ulitsa Serafimovicha turned into Ulitsa Bolshaya Polyanka and picked its way down
Zhitnaya Ulitsa.  Mikhail tapped the driver’s shoulder when they reached the corner of Ulitsa Mytnaya.  The young man pulled over, let Mikhail and Natalia out, then circled the square and sped off in the direction from whence he came.  It was now a few minutes after 2100 hours. 
   Mikhail and Natalia strolled across the square, observing that Lazar was already sitting in the passenger seat of a car parked between the main entrance to the apartment building and the school next door.  Lazar saw them, too, but ignored them.  Instead, he said something to the Galina, who was sitting in the driver’s seat.  Mikhail and Natalia watched as she got out of the car, walked slowly to the corner of Ulitsa Mitnaya, and walked back to the car.  She didn’t know it, but she had just signaled to the team that the target had been at home, but had gone out again.  If he had been home the girl would have remained in the car.  If Lazar had seen something that made him decide to scrub the mission, on seeing Mikhail and Natalia he would have told the girl to drive off.  In that case they would have walked over to the other side of the street, where Nikita was waiting in a rented green Mercedes Knight with Petrograd license plates.  Nikita also had a local woman in his car.  If Lazar had given the “abort” signal, Mikhail and Natalia would have hopped into the Mercedes and driven away.
   But, for now, the mission appeared to be a go.  Mikhail and Natalia continued walking around the square, talking in low voices, keeping Lazar and Nikita in sight.  They knew that by know Yuryev would have checked Mikhail and himself out of the Budapesht —the others had checked out of their hotels earlier—and would also have deposited a fresh set of passports, driver’s licenses and some cash for each of them at several predetermined spots throughout Moscow, in case they got separated and had to make their way out of the city on their own.  By now Yuryev was probably having a quiet drink in one of the many working men’s bars in the neighborhood, sitting by a window, keeping an eye on the streets leading into the square.  The major part of his job would not begin until later.
The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about it.

Albert Einstein

Offline Nictionary

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Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
« Reply #12 on: May 23, 2017, 03:12:06 AM »
Another half hour passed before Mikhail saw Lazar get out of the car in front of the entrance.  Lazar looked at his pocket watch, walked over to the driver’s side, leaned against the door, and chatted casually for a few seconds with the girl behind the wheel. Then he waved farewell to her and started walking across the square towards Zhitnaya Ulitsa, without looking at Mikhail or Natalia.  The girl drove away.  Nikita was still sitting with the other girl in the Mercedes parked a few sazhens away.  Apparently it was time to get in position.  If tonight was like most nights, Medvedev would be walking home from the tram stop within the next few minutes.  Lazar sending his car away was the signal that he had spotted Feliks and Angelika strolling towards the square, arm in arm.  Their job was to precede the target by about a minute as he made his way home. 
   Having spotted them, Lazar took up position next to the second getaway car, a beat-up Fiat parked a few hundred sazhens from the square, with Artyem sitting behind the wheel.  Mikhail and Natalia began crossing the square at a relaxed pace toward the main entrance of the apartment building, keeping an eye on Nikita in the Mercedes.  It would have been injudicious to linger in the hallway longer than needed.  Unless and until the girl sitting beside Nikita got out of the car, Mikhail and Natalia would not enter the apartment lobby.
   If she got out of the car only to walk away, Mikhail and Natalia would not enter at all. This would be the final signal to abort the mission. It could mean that the target was accompanied by someone else, or had changed his direction entirely.  He would be coming from around the corner, invisible to Mikhail and Natalia.  The only thing visible to them was the girl in Nikita’s Mercedes, or at least the back of her auburn head.
   Mikhail felt his stomach muscles tighten.  He snatched a quick look at Natalia, but her face displayed no anxiety.  If anything, she looked slightly bored.
   It was time for the brunette to make a move, one way or the other.
   She did.  She was stepping out of the Mercedes.  And she ran instead of walking, with the awkward, high-heeled run of a young girl, over to Feliks and Angelika.  “Privyet!” she shouted at them as she took hold of Feliks’ other arm with both hands.  Laughing, chatting, clinging together, the trio passed by the school.  Presumably a minute ahead of the target.  Swiftly, decisively, as if he had meant to do nothing else all his life, Mikhail walked through the main entrance of the building and into the hallway.  He did not, by word or gesture, signal Natalia to follow him. He had no doubt that Natalia would be right behind, but she would have entered the hall anyway. 
   Everyone was spread out in their positions, alert and electric with tension.
   Inside the lobby the air was cool and a little damp.  Mikhail and Natalia had looked into it the previous day, just long enough to get an idea of the layout.  The stairs.  A kind of reflecting glass, like a mirror, on one wall—which now gave Mikhail a start even though he ought to have remembered it was there.  For a second he thought there was someone waiting in the lobby. Shit! Jumping at his own shadow. Fortunately Natalia seemed not to notice.
   The two agents switched off the lights, then stepped into the shadows of the darkened anteroom and waited.  The electric lights in Moscow were continually failing, so a darkened lobby probably wouldn’t arouse the residents’ suspicions.
The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about it.

Albert Einstein

Offline Nictionary

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Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
« Reply #13 on: May 23, 2017, 03:14:51 AM »
Looking back towards the entry they could see people walking by; silhouettes framed for a split second in the narrow doorway. A woman. An older couple. A dog, pausing, looking back, wagging its tail, trotting away again.
   Then, without any doubt, the man they were waiting to kill.  Dressed in the Chekist’s signature black leather jacket and a peaked cap, with a leather holster on his hip.  Carrying a newspaper.  Just at this moment the dash-dot of a car horn reached their ears—Nikita signaling them from the green Mercedes—but it wasn’t necessary. They knew.
   What would happen if people walked in after they had already begun what, in the team’s vocabulary, was called “the action”?  The best idea Mikhail could come up with was to dismiss such a possibility. Zero risk could only mean near-zero risk, not absolute zero. Even Bylinkin had acknowledged that in such operations it was impossible to plan for all eventualities.
   The target was coming through the door.
   Except—Mikhail could hardly believe his eyes—a man and a woman were following right at his heels.  A couple of innocent bystanders. Natalia saw them too. They were about to walk through the door, just a few paces behind the man with the newspaper. 
   At this point Natalia made a sudden move, possibly because of the couple walking behind the man. Later she wasn’t certain herself why she moved; maybe she considered the mission aborted and she was starting to head out of the building. In any case, she moved—and the couple behind the target might have sensed the movement, caught sight of a dim figure they did not know in the dark lobby. Or they might simply have changed their minds about entering the building. They stopped.
   Then the man seemed to pull at the woman’s hand, and they both walked away.
   Ahead of them, the man with the newspaper noticed nothing. He continued walking into the lobby towards the stairs with firm, customary steps, not worrying about the darkness.  A thin slight man with no though of danger.
   Mikhail and Natalia stepped out of the shadows and moved between Medvedev and the curved staircase.  Natalia reached out and switched on the light.
   Caught in the sudden glow, which wasn’t at all bright, Medvedev looked up but he did not slow down or stop. His expression wasn’t frightened. He wasn’t even startled, only a little puzzled, perhaps.  He looked at Mikhail and Natalia, and they looked at him.  Everyone was blank for a moment before Natalia asked, “Are you Comrade Medvedev?”
   The question was mere operational formality. The minute the lights had come on, both agents recognized the former sailor.
   “Yes?” said Medvedev.  “What do you want?”
   “Do you know why we’re here?” asked Mikhail.
   “No,” said the Chekist, frowning.  “Who sent you?”
   “Justice sent us,” said Mikhail as he and Natalia moved together.  Half a step back with the right foot, knees bending in combat crouch. Right hand held close to the body, sweeping back jacket, fingers curved for the pistol grip. Left palm down, moving in a short semicircle over the right coming up with the modified, silenced 7.65mm Browning.  The slide being pulled back and snapping forward.  Less than one second.  One second for the enemy to fire first.  The Intelligence Department’s one second trade-off for zero risk, for never having a weapon in your hand, for never having a bullet raised from the clip into firing position. Until you intended to use it. Then, no more warning, no more waiting.
   For another second nothing happened.  The first second—making sure, before pulling a gun—was regulation. But after they both had their Brownings in their hands there was one more second that had nothing to do with the drill. An unrehearsed pause.  Later, Mikhail thought that they had each simply been hoping that the other would fire first.
The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about it.

Albert Einstein

Offline Nictionary

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Re: Operation Rod of Iron: AU fic
« Reply #14 on: May 23, 2017, 03:17:35 AM »
Medvedev moved.  He unsnapped the flap on his holster and was fumbling with his own Browning when the first bullets struck him in the chest.  Mikhail and Natalia had fired in unison.  Twice.  Twice, twice, then twice again, their aim following Medvedev’s body as he screamed in pain, then dropped to his knees, then fell flat on his face.  His pistol fell from his hand.  He tried to roll over to reach it but couldn’t.  “Help…help…me…please,” he panted almost inaudibly.  Natalia walked up close, kicked the dying man over onto his back, and fired another shot right into his head.  Mikhail followed suit, even though Medvedev had already stopped moving.  Dazed, they each fired again.
   Mikhail saw Natalia bending down for some unaccountable reason. At first he thought his partner wanted to look at Medvedev’s body, but in fact she was starting to pick up the ejected shells.  Realizing he ought to do the same, Mikhail slammed the light switch on, and quickly began locating, picking up and pocketing the shell casings.   Both of them counted up to … eleven.  They looked for the twelfth casing but eventually gave up.
   Natalia was crouching over the body.  She held her hand over her nose and mouth, smelling something terrible, and gagged.  “Let’s go,” said Mikhail, as he tucked his gun into his belt, starting to move towards the exit at a fast walking pace. Looking back, he could see Natalia straightening up and following him.  Natalia seemed dazed.  She was trying to put her gun away, but in the end she just held it under her jacket.
   They walked out quickly through the main entrance on to the square. Behind them the lights were still burning in the lobby. Less than three minutes must have elapsed since Medvedev had entered the building—maybe less than two.
   They walked towards the green Mercedes, quickening their pace as they went. Fixing his eye on the car, parked only two dozen sazhens away, Mikhail did not even notice whether they had been passing other people on the sidewalk or not.  The closer they got to the car the faster they walked, and for the last few steps Mikhail could feel himself breaking into a run. Without meaning to. He yanked open the rear door, and let Natalia tumble into the back seat ahead of him.  They noticed that the auburn-haired girl had left.
   Nikita turned back.  “What happened?” he asked anxiously just as Mikhail was slamming the door shut.
   “Nothing.  It’s done,” Mikhail replied. “We shot him.  Let’s go.”
   “We killed him,” affirmed Natalia.
   “Twelve shots!” shouted Mikhail.
   “He shat himself!  He’s dead!” cried Natalia.
   Everyone stopped shouting.  They sat in silence as the Mercedes shot forward. It leapt into the flow of traffic around Kaluzhskaya Square, forcing another car to brake and swerve so hard it nearly spun around its axis. It was unbelievably close. Mikhail could already hear the crunch of metal and was surprised when it didn’t come. The next few hundred yards along Ulitsa  Mytnaya were just a blur. 
   Lazar, on the other hand seemed totally calm, waiting for them as they pulled in behind the Fiat, a few hundred sazhens away.  He motion to Artyem to move forward to give Nikita some room, then opened the door of the car for them, but kept his eyes on the traffic coming from Kaluzhskaya Square as Nikita parked the Mercedes.  There was nothing to indicate that they had been pursued.
   “Do you have everything?” Mikhail asked Natalia as they clambered into the Fiat.  She nodded, but looked a bit doubtful.  She had put her Browning away but kept feeling the pockets of her jacket as if she had missed something. 
   “What’s the matter, Natalia?” asked Mikhail.  “Are you sure you didn’t drop something?”
   “Ah, no, I don’t think so,” she said, but there was uncertainty in her voice. 
   “Don’t worry,” said Artyem.  “If you did, Andrei and Samuil will pick it up.”
The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about it.

Albert Einstein