Yuli and Ivan Go on an Adventure Yuli and Ivan Go on an Adventure
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In the shadow of a soldier's assault rifle, Yulian Federov stared down at the pile of (pointless, repetitive, yet for some reason incredibly classified) documents in his desk drawer. Just below the grayish government-issued papers, he could make out the white-paper edges of his novel manuscript — practically ready to be bound and sent off to a publisher.

Three years of blood, sweat, and skipped lunch breaks, eked out from his shabby little office typewriter. It was no Tolstoy and Dostoevsky, but it was a good novel, full of action and romance. And inscribed on the inner page, the words "For Sasha Kudrina, with love."1 stood out proudly in black ink.


The Captain of the Taskforce's booming voice had been painfully clear. Within seconds, the entire office was turned inside-out. File drawers were torn out of cabinets, entire books and binders dashed to the floor, papers flying in the air and covering the ground like a blizzard. Task-force men watched over the entire proceedings, ready to fire at the sight of a pocketed hand or a moment's hesitation.

Yulian looked up at the beast of a man towering directly over him. He looked back down at the novel. It was right there! He was going to bring it home that very day!

"Excuse me, Sir, but if I might just -"

The chuCHAK of the Officer's Kalashnikov made the hair on Yulian's arms curl. His heart dropped through his stomach and down to his knees. There was no pleading to be made. Protocol was protocol. Not a single document, classified or otherwise, was making it out of this office intact.

Box in hand, Yulian lined up with dozens of other bureaucrats for the paper furnace, surrounded on both sides by men watching with rifles. If only he knew they'd be coming today! He could have easily brought the manuscript home yesterday evening, without incident. But now he was next, and a second later, it was gone. It was all gone, every single letter of his magnum opus and his career, in a bath of flames.

After being given the clear, Yulian was ejected from the premises. He walked slowly, dragging his feet as he went, to a public bench two blocks from home.

There, he burst into tears, and wept.

He had seen the signs - the inflation rates, the protests, the coup attempt. The Soviet Union was failing, and everyone in the office knew it was only a matter of time before the Task Force came for them.

But even for bureaucrats of the GRU 'P' Division, it just happened a little sooner than anyone had expected.

Yuli and Ivan Go On an Adventure.
« Chapter 2 - Avos'. [[[ | Chapter 2 ½ | To Be Continued »

"Yulian," Ivan called out.

No response.

"Yulian!" Ivan repeated sternly.

Yuli woke up in the passenger seat of a dilapidated but ever-functional Russian automobile, a Trabant 601.2

"Sorry, I was asleep. Where are we?" said Yulian.

"Here," said Ivan.

Yuli looked out the window and was introduced to a small apartment in the middle of the next town over. He had been to this town three times in his life, but never this side of town, and never this deep within it.

Ivan opened the car door and got out onto the sidewalk. "Let's go. We'll drink."

"Okay. And thank you, but I'll pass."

"Fine. We'll get down to business first." Ivan replied.

Ivan's door had three locks and he opened them all with ease. Yuli took a look inside the small apartment, and there was just enough room to sleep reasonably, to eat, to shit.

"Now this," Ivan said, pulling a box from under the bed, "Is something more powerful and more rare than anything you have ever encountered in your life."

Yuli nodded, but in all truth, he was absolutely terrified. "Will we die?"

"No, no, it's not like that. Not all powerful things are inherently destructive. And you understand that with me showing you this, we have made a bond like brothers, and you will never speak of anything we do and anything you see."

"Why are you doing this to me? I did not ask for this. I'm a paper-filer. Whatever your objectives may be, I don't think I will be of any use to you."

"Two reasons — " Ivan held up two fuzzy-gloved fingers. "For one thing, I know I can trust you. Отдел "Психотроника" didn't take just anybody."

"This is true." said Yuli matter-of-factually.

"And second of all — " Ivan paused for maximum effect, as if he giving a speech. Thick crow's feet spread from the corners of his eyes as a smile grew larger and larger on his face.

"Yes, second of all — every organization needs a bureaucrat."

"I told you, Pasternak, we are not an organization!"

"Of course we are! We're rebuilding the glorious GRU-P from it's burning ashes. We will arise like phoenixes and bring glory to the motherland!"

"With who, Ivan!? Two people don't make an organization! You need many people! Hundreds!"

"We work out the nitty-gritty later. So, are you in?" Ivan held up his hand, waiting for a handshake.

Yuli stared at the delusional old codger. // This man's completely mad!// But the silent gun that got very hot and Pasternak's decades of experience in covert operations meant that, at least for now, Yuli would have to remain a willing hostage. It would be best to play along. He's not an evil person, just a lunatic.

Yuli grimaced. "…Okay, Ivan Alexei. I'm in." Yuli shook Ivan's hand.

"Excellent. Welcome aboard, comrade. Now behold," said Ivan, unlatching the eight locks on the box quickly. "An 'объект'!"3

Inside the heavily padded box was a glass bottle smaller than a deck of cards. It glowed with a pleasant green glow.

"This… this costs millions of dollars."

Yuli's eyes widened. "Dollars?"

"Dollars. It is a sleeping faerie dragon."4

"Can it kill us?"

"No. We don't have the Объекты to wake it up. And we probably never will. But some people do, and some of those people are willing to pay serious money for this."

"What does it do?"

"The dragon? I'm not sure. It is not part of Slavic mythology, or as we understand dragons. The people of the British Isles would know something more. Let's just say they are incredibly rare reminders of the Old World before men, and All Who Inhabited It. We are to respect them for this, and not let them fall into the hands of madmen."

Yuli pondered on this. Even with such a thick Moskvich5 accent, Captain of Alternative Research Ivan Pasternak was a man made wise from years of work in the field, in places unseen and unspeakable.

"The glow is warm, and I feel… happy inside."

"Yes, it does that." Ivan closed the lid of the briefcase. "You best not look at it for too long. Some people get lost in its glow. Others begin to desire to open the bottle and die."

"I thought you said it wouldn't kill us!" Yuli said disconcertingly.

"It will not kill us. We are not madmen. And our mission for today…" Ivan said, standing up and holding the briefcase. "Is to sell this for a million dollars."

"And who, praytell, would be able to buy this from you?"

"I have my networks, as I am sure that you have your own." Pasternak winked.

"Great, good luck with that," Yuli said. "And what about me? What am I supposed to do now? I've left my home and my employment. My things are packed away in your car's backseat."

"We get you unpacked later. For now, you are coming with me, comrade."

"I am?" Yuli frowned.

"You are." Ivan smiled.

[[Sasha notes (ala Eskobar)]]

Scene remains until Yuli enters, teary-eyed

Sasha has successfully hidden her anart abilities up until this day. She is frightened to hear Yuli has lost his job. Yuli has no idea and continues to be sad. She convinces Yuli they must run. Yuli believes his wife and then black armoured van pulls up.

They escape through the backstreets and make it to a culvert. "What now" scene with Sasha. "Well, we have a world of choices, but wherever you may be, I will protect you.

Slap? Maybe? Anyway, Sasha tells him he's being super corny. But thank you, she says. Then the world of Anart opens up, and Yuli and Sasha run inside.

Here are some other things I'm working on.

Hafiya: A Quick Background

Hafiya is a disputed territory in Sector 36 [Northwestern region, African continent]. The Hafiyan region has been under the political control of several states over the past several centuries, but neither central governance nor an external political power has seized effective, long-term control since the Interwar period.

Consists mostly of desert wasteland, with three notable features: two major cities [Ha'amouk and Akhet, see below], the Shafir mountains to the northwest and the relatively fertile Al-Ha'amouk River Valley to the south.

Approximately 700,000 people. Majority Islam, although the prevailing practice in the region is a syncretic mix of Islam, mysticism and tribal religions common to the area. 50% live in Ha'amouk (agricultural center of Hafiya, built along a river of the same name), 20% live in Akhet (mining center of Hafiya, at the foot of the Shafir), while the rest live in smaller towns or are part of small, nomadic settlements.

The language predominantly spoken in Hafiya is a Pidgin mixture of Arabic and local tribal languages, unique to the region and a handful of small enclaves in bordering countries. Traditional Arabic is known by most of the population, but rarely spoken in normal conversation. Denizens of Ha'amouk may have a market-level knowledge of English.

Seward's Project and the Akyrosite Information Leak

As far as the international anomalous community was concerned, nothing of any real interest ever happened in the Hafiyan region. Many would attest that this is an understatement - absolutely nothing went down in the region, to the point of being anomalous in its absolute lack of anomalies. Most experts argued that Hafiya's lack of extranormal activity was simply a matter of chance, and were unwilling to invest time and resources on research in the region. However, according to surviving records recovered by the Foundation, a Dr. Howard Seward of Prometheus Labs, Inc. was not convinced. Dr. Seward and his research team are believed to have investigated the Hafiyan region and its general lack of anomalous entities in excess of two decades.

It is generally believed that sometime in the summer of 19██, Seward's gambit paid off. Mineral samples taken from the Shafir mountains contained a substance not previously classified or studied. Although inert and harmless to the general populace, the substance was found to have a significant (albeit limited) nullification effect on anomalous entities when in close proximity with each other.

Although official research as to the connection between the substance and the lack of anomalies in Hafiya has been lost (see below), there is a general consensus that trace amounts of the substance are carried by strong desert winds from the large akyrosite deposits in the Shafir mountains and are subsequently scattered across the region. This may have a limiting factor on the spontaneous appearance or creation of anomalies in the region, thus leading to Hafiya's unusual lack of extranormal activity.

Heavy research on the substance was quickly undertaken by Prometheus Labs, who saw the obvious technological and economic implications it could have on the world. In a twist of fate, however, Dr. Seward and his research team were all killed in the incident that obliterated the base facility of Prometheus Labs, Inc. Nearly all of the research made on the substance was destroyed in the incident, and no person nor verifiable document from Seward's project would survive for continued research and development of the substance.

It is unknown how the substance found its way back on the radar of the paranormal community. Some accounts claim that the Foundation uncovered a surviving sample in the ruins of Prometheus Labs HQ, which was subsequently stolen during a site breach by the Chaos Insurgency. This, however, would not explain the leak of information concerning Seward's project and the substance's properties to the entire anomalous community that followed. How the source of the substance in the Shafir mountains was rediscovered is also unexplained. Some speculate that the entity known as Nobody played a part in the information leak, although there is no evidence to back up said speculations.

Although no other information other than what has been presented has been declassified, it is general knowledge that prior to the information leak, the substance was dubbed 'Akyrosite', from the Greek verb meaning 'to render inoperable'. Akyrosite has become the accepted term for the substance.

War For Hafiya

Regardless of the circumstances involved in the information leak, the uproar it has created throughout the world is undeniable. Covert intelligence reports that paranormal organizations across the world have begun to mobilize forces in the Hafiyan region. A massive influx of individuals are now requesting entry into the seldom-visited territory. Pre-existing revolutionary groups present in Hafiya are now reported to have access to what appear to be 'weaponized anomalous artifacts' and are expanding their influence at a terrifying pace. Even civilians in the region are beginning to grow restless at the sudden changes sweeping the region.

A war for Hafiya and its supply of akyrosite is at hand. It is only a matter of time until it erupts.

Paranormal Organizations Involved

Are We Cool Yet?
Incredibly little is known about the AWCY? cell in Hafiya. It is presently unknown if the sudden rise in anart in Hafiya is part of a homegrown movement or if it is the result of Western anartists moving into the region and taking advantage of the attention Hafiya is garnering in the anomalous community. Political and religious affiliations are negligible at best.
Regardless of motive or affiliation, anart 'exhibits', often dangerous by nature, are being installed in increasing number across Hafiya; they are typically installed in heavily-contested areas where armed fighting between factions frequently occurs.

The Chaos Insurgency
The Chaos Insurgency has long had a foothold in Hafiya, taking advantage of the region's lack of central governance, technological access and media coverage. However, political analysis and covert intelligence suggests that the Hafiyan CI cell has had little political influence on the region. This may be due to lack of organizational interest in the region or perhaps a lack of resources and manpower to properly exploit the region.
Since the discovery of akyrosite, however, the lackadaisical administration of the CI in Hafiya is rapidly changing. Only time will tell how it will respond to the influx of rival organizations entering the fray.

The Global Occult Coalition
The GOC is perhaps the most established paranormal organization in the region, with three PSYCHE Division outposts established as an open welcome to occult groups amongst the nomadic tribes. In theory, the GOC is the best-equipped organization to take control of Hafiya's akyrosite supply.
In practice, though, disputes amongst the Council of 108 have crippled any attempts to mobilize any significant number of forces in the area. Although there is no substantial evidence, it is believed that a handful of influential members of the Council are purposely keeping the GOC in deadlock.

The Horizon Initiative
As with the ORIA, the HI are also divided in their organizational response. Most members of the HI have decided to stay away from the conflict and deal with matters more aligned to their vision and mission. Akyrosite, as far as they are concerned, will eventually seep into the market and will be available for study and usage in the near future. Certain cells within Project Malleus, however, are not so easily convinced.
As such, Wolves from Project Malleus have been spotted in Hafiya's major cities, working in unofficial partnership with religious and militant factions they share ideologies with. Although the number of Project Malleus personnel are limited, their influence in the region may begin to grow as they proceed to train and arm many of the civilians. It is to be noted that the rest of the HI has generally condemned the actions of these splinter cells.

Manna Charitable Foundation
The MCF provides relief, where it belongs; in the context of the Hafiya region, relief belongs everywhere. The MCF has been noted to provide sustenance and shelter to both unaligned civilians and members of all warring factions, regardless of their ideological beliefs and the harm the factions may be causing to the general populace.
In light of this, MCF aid workers have been advised to use their aid missions as an opportunity to peacefully persuade contributors to the violence to disarm. Peace efforts are still ongoing.

Marshall, Carter, and Dark Ltd.
MC&D has found a way to infiltrate the Hafiyan economy, as they have successfully done in a vast majority of the world. They have been selling weaponized anomalous objects to local militant groups for decades, and have even funded political uprisings on occasion. As the conflict expands and more potential customers enter the fray, the organization has upped the ante (and their prices).
It is unknown if (or rather, how) Marshall, Carter, and Dark Ltd. will handle Hafiya's newest resource. It is speculated that MC&D is waiting for other factions to bicker amongst themselves before making their move.

Office for the Reclamation of Islamic Artifacts
There is considerable conflict within the ORIA as to how to respond to the Hafiyan crisis. Hafiya is technically part of their sphere of influence, and many of the members of ORIA believe it is their job to protect the territory from Western encroachment and exploitation. Other members of the organization's leadership, however, feel that the folk Islamic practices and mysticism that are practiced in the region are offensive to the conservative Shia Islamic values of the organization and that Hafiya as a whole should be left to its own fate.
As the leadership debates over how to address the issue, ORIA forces are swarming the region's borders in order to ensure that the conflict does not spill over into allied nations and to prepare themselves for a potential military intervention.

The Unusual Incidents Unit
The presence of the UIU in Hafiya is both unprecedented and unusual. The UIU does not have enough resources to send agents halfway across the world, and it is widely speculated that they are presently being funded by an outside benefactor. Although many feel the UIU lacks the competence to have any real impact on the conflict, a few experts suggest the organization's presence is a sign of a rejuvenated and more adept UIU, empowered by new-found financial resources.
The UIU certainly represents the dark horse of the conflict, as they have never been in conflicts as serious as this. However, their lack of influence prior to the Hafiyan conflict may give them an advantage, as other paranormal organizations are more likely to allow the UIU to slip under the radar.

Final Note: Where is the Foundation?

Despite having had first access to information on akyrosite and its whereabouts, the Foundation's response to the growing unrest in Hafiya has been pathetic. This is rather uncharacteristic for an organization with the vested interest and the resources to hoard take control of Hafiya's akyrosite deposits. Several theories abound as to the Foundation's hands-off response to the Hafiyan crisis.

The most controversial theory involves the presence of the Chaos Insurgency in the region. It has been long speculated that the Chaos Insurgency is merely an incognito arm of the Foundation that deals with the less savory goals of the organization. The Foundation may simply be leaving the Hafiyan Crisis to the Chaos Insurgency so as to 'keep their hands from getting dirty'.

On the other hand, the presence of Unusual Incidents Unit agents in Hafiya is also a potential explanation for the lack of Foundation response. The UIU is a long-established lackey of the Foundation, taking care of extranormal events and anomalies the Foundation don't have the time to be bothered with. Since the UIU does not have the resources to send agents to Hafiya, nor the information and intelligence to know about akyrosite, two possible theories arise: either the Foundation believes the UIU has the competence to deal with the Hafiyan Crisis (highly unlikely), or the Foundation is wrapped up in a major intra-organizational crisis of its own and cannot afford to use its own personnel in what could easily be a suicide mission.

Others speculate that the poor response is the result of growing tension between the Foundation and the Office of Reclamation of Islamic Artifacts. As the region is mostly under the ORIA's sphere of influence, the Foundation may be avoiding a much larger conflict than the crisis at hand. It may be true that the organizations have clashed in previous encounters, but the Hafiyan Crisis would bring the two organizations into direct opposition. A full-scale war between the Foundation and the ORIA could exacerbate the already precarious political situation between the West and the Middle East. After all, both the Foundation and the GOC are vested in preventing an 8th Occult War.

Whatever the circumstances may be, one thing is for sure: the biggest player in the paranormal community is staying away from Hafiya, leaving other Groups of Interest the unprecedented opportunity to take control of what could possibly be the most valuable material resource since the development of telekill alloy.