An Alex Krycek backstory for the Sanctuary universe
Krycek finalizes plans with Marita and
The thing about life is that you can't be ready for every single crazy turns it takes. Plan all you want, but you'll never anticipate them all. Most of the turns my life had taken were like Hong Kong. You know: walk into an airport john, unzip and find yourself face to face with a leggy brunette bearing gifts--just not any you'd ever want.
But this was different. Hell, I had no experience at all with the kind of upswing that was facing me now. Four days in New York and I'd gone from hunting down Mulder's source out of self-defense to being handed a plan for surviving hell on earth. Reserved seat in the lifeboat. Beyond that, this was my chance to scale that ladder the old men figured I'd been knocked off of, and I'd be damned if I was going to let it slip away.
So I laid my plans: return to D.C., take care of what I had to do there, then fly to Moscow to catch up with the latest intelligence from Tolya and move on to the camp. I had to get a sample of the vaccine and it wasn't going to be any walk in the park, because Lev guarded every drop of the stuff like a Swiss bank guard.
The morning after my meeting with Covarrubias I got up early and dragged myself to the airport. I was still a little hung over but our encounter the night before had been worth it, a strange little hour or so with some unexpected twists. Somewhere along the line Covarrubias had lowered her quills, I'd gotten some information and we'd laughed at a few jokes that were never quite spelled out in words--survivors' humor, I guess. Whatever. Maybe this alliance would work out in more ways than one. At least, I guess that's what my subconscious was hoping, because I dreamed about Marita that night. It wasn't what I needed. I'd learned my lesson about mixing business with pleasure years ago. Anyway, I was the last guy she'd want if she knew. I could picture the look on her face when she found out, and it was a lot more sneer than sympathy. Not that I'd want her pity. Actually, I didn't give a shit what she thought of me as long as we made this plan work.
Back in D.C. I made arrangements to meet with Tolya in Moscow and checked my audio feed in the closet next to Mulder's place. The thought of the DOD snooping on him from the apartment upstairs had me worried, but there wasn't a damn thing I was going to be able to do about it. Mulder'd just have to manage on his own until I got back. Hopefully he wouldn't do anything stupid and compromise himself. His concern for Scully should help keep him out of trouble, though. He'd want to be there, help her through. Hell, he'd want to ride in like a warrior on a white horse and save her, hard facts or opposing armies be damned.
If she didn't make it, it was going to kill him, and what good would he be to me then?
Good old Mulder and his pit bull loyalty. Just my luck that I'd come up on the wrong side of it, like I had with the old man. When I was a little kid I used to fall asleep thinking about that, you know: what it was about me. Why was I never good enough, that I was shivering myself to sleep every night while Mulder had a room of his own, and summer camp, and Oxford? Good thing I didn't know about Diana or Jeffrey then. It might have damaged my tender young psyche, made me cynical or something.
But none of that mattered anymore. I could make my own luck now.
Aleksei looks pale and tired, but even my meals seem a source of irritation for him. "You don't have to go out of your way for me," he says as if he's caught me in some betrayal. Certainly he is not looking out for his own health, though, and this evening when I called him over to the computer, there was vodka on his breath. I said nothing, but never have I been more aware of how dangerous Aleksei Dmitrievich Krycek can be. Even when he stayed with me after the old vulture tried to blow him up, he did not lash out at me but rather brooded and kept to himself. For years I have rationalized his danger out of necessity, though it seems imprudent now. I also realize I would not be free, if I so chose, to walk away from our long collaboration.
26 May 7:30 p.m.
26 May 10:50 p.m.
Aleksei leaves tomorrow for Russia. I have mixed feelings--mostly, I suppose, because I wish the desire that he were gone was not so strong in me. It has never been this way between us, and I can't see that it bodes well for the future.
Guess I was on overload, but at the time it didn't register. I had work to do; there was no time to be worrying about personal details. By the time I'd left Ché and his hovering, though, some of those details had already caught up with me. A bruise that had developed on one side of my stump that was getting worse with time and it made wearing the arm even more of a pain than it usually was. Beyond that, I'd been hitting the vodka too hard and eating too little. Sleep only came in fits and starts. And there were dreams.
On the flight from New York to D.C. I dozed off as soon as we'd reached cruising altitude--says something about the shape I was in--and started a rerun of the dream about Liliana and the embassy siege. At least, I thought that's what I was in for. But when Liliana turned away from the window to face me, she morphed into one of the clone girls from Alberta, all big, pleading eyes and dark braids. I could almost hear her inside my head, begging me to get her out of there to some place safe. But then that's what everybody on the planet is screaming--or would be, if they knew what's coming. I managed to wake myself up, but the picture in my head stuck; I could almost feel that cold Alberta wind on the back of my neck. For a second my mind made one of those crazy connections--the clone girl and the assignment the old man had given me outside Sacramento six years earlier, but it didn't make any sense. They'd have dozens--maybe even hundreds--of guinea pigs. Why clone one somebody might be looking for?
I didn't give the dream another thought.
There was no ignoring the problem with the stump, though. It would just get worse and then I'd be up Shit Creek, along with everybody else on this dustball. You watch enough movies or TV, you get the idea that help should be rushing in from every quarter if you're trying to save the world. But there it is: the big gap between fiction and reality.
I spent four days in Brussels: assessments, tests and way too much time to look at myself in a mirror. Came away with an extra sock inside my socket liner and a caution that it was only a temporary fix, that the stump would continue to shrink and eventually I'd have to come back for re-tooling. Like a damn machine: it hit me hardest when I saw the big talk of the hospital, the latest hand from Otto Bock, the Mercedes Benz of prosthetics. Without the cover, it looked like something that belonged on a robot. I felt a little like that, having to stop in for tune-ups, wasting time I should be spending fighting what was coming. I'd planned on firming up strategy while I waited, but the truth is I was spending a lot of that time flat on my back, staring at the fleur-de-lis on the wallpaper or the clouds drifting past the window of my room, digging myself into a nice mental hole. I kept flashing on Mulder running toward me in the camp, that 'I'm going to kill you now' fire in his eye and the way he almost got to me with the knife... before he hauled us out of there in a truck with no brakes. How far did you think you'd get, Mulder, before you ran out of gas and ended up lost? You think people wouldn't have reported you, that you wouldn't have landed in more trouble than you were in to begin with? Anyway, I would've gotten him out if he'd just sat tight, but then patience has never been Mulder's strong suit. Don't think, just charge right out there, Mulder. Make yourself feel righteous. It's what you want most anyway, isn't it, you pathetic fuck? And look who paid the price.
I was slipping. I knew it but I was just watching myself go down.
Enter the cavalry.
Make that the wheelchair cavalry: the old guy from before, Delmas. He inched his chair into my room, made his way past my pretty obvious efforts to ignore him and started giving me the 'light at the end of the tunnel' spiel. If it had been anyone else I would've given them a 9mm welcome. But maybe the old guy had a way with words. Whatever. Fact is, it wasn't pie in the sky with him. He was living without two limbs and he hadn't been broken by it, hadn't thrown in the towel. He kept talking to me in that quiet, matter-of-fact way of his and gradually my mind shifted away from Mulder and myself. We talked about World War II--victories and tactical blunders and the value of the underground. He had me eat at his table and told me about the different flowers in the vase and how a housekeeper had brought them from his garden. Maybe, he said, reaching for a piece of bread, it would help if I could be with a woman.
Somehow I managed to laugh.
I would rather have faced a firing squad than have some woman see me the way I was now. I changed the subject smoothly enough and we made it through the end of the meal. But I guess the idea stuck in my head because later, while I was drifting off to sleep, I felt someone beside me. For a while I actually wondered if maybe the old guy had sent in this girl he'd been hinting about, but I wasn't tensing up, just getting looser and looser, falling into what she was doing to me, so I knew it had to be all in my head. Thing was, when she'd finished with me she didn't disappear. She just lay there holding me and there was this strange peace, like somebody'd reached down and yanked me clear of the rat race. For a little while, anyway. Couldn't bring myself to move and break the bubble for the longest time.
The next morning I was on a plane for Moscow. To help me keep a low profile, Tolya arranged for his cousin to pick me up and deposit me at the family dacha outside the city. I worked on a list of questions while I waited, though more than once I found myself out on the porch, taking in the sights and smells. Dacha season was just starting and the place was a riot of green growth and little blossoms, with trees leafing out and fruit starting to set. Overhead, the sky was wearing its best Moscow blue, and big white clouds would come drifting by. Amazing. Sometimes it could be a beautiful place--beautiful planet. If you had the time to stop and watch it. And if disaster wasn't about to come raining down on us. The hospital dream came to me again--just the last part, and only for a few seconds. As soon as I focused on it, the feeling slipped away.
By the time Tolya made it in, the sun was heavy yellow flecks glinting through the western trees. We sat on the porch drinking beers and eating the meat I'd barbecued. The new Russia had done a number on Tolya's whole presentation: he looked more like a businessman than a student these days with his tailored leather jacket and nice slacks. You've got to love it: good old western-style capitalism is the only virus around that people line up to get. Anyway, he was keeping up with the times and that was a good sign. He didn't seem to notice the arm until later, when we were inside and I found myself with a burning match in my good hand and no viable way of lifting the glass chimney on the lantern I needed to light. After an awkward second Tolya picked it up. He reddened a little.
"Truly, you have my condolences, Lyosha," he said quietly. "Petrovich told me. I believe he learned it from Peskow."
"Figures." I shrugged and jabbed the match out in an ashtray. I was going to have to go through this routine with everybody--not that I had that many contacts. Eventually Covarrubias was going to notice. "So what have you got for me?"
"Murder, intrigue." He waved a hand. "The various empires of organized crime."
I half-listened while he made his way through the highlights of his latest intel: mafia squabbles; Yemenis--new faces--looking to buy information and maybe more; the amount of nuclear material that had disappeared from the Institute in Obninsk over the years. Something about a hundred grams of recovered uranium discovered packed in four tons of beryllium.
"What do you know about Lev Dmitriyevich Semenov?" I said. I needed something I could use against Lev to keep him in line if things took a downturn at the camp.
Tolya stopped mid-sentence. "You mean, information you would find in a directory? Or something more... personal?"
I got up and went to close the door. "You know what I want." Outside, the trees were black silhouettes against a sky on fire. I dropped the latch into its slot and returned to the table where Tolya seemed lost, staring into the flame. The shadows on his face made him look pained.
"There is a woman, Irina, daughter of General Karpov," he said when he finally looked up. "A girl--she was just a girl, a headstrong runaway, when Lev Dmitriyevich met her. He had no idea who she was. I have heard there is a child in an orphanage, by now nine years old. It was a very hushed-up matter, very... unusual."
DIARY OF LUDMILA ORLENEVA
And what of the location? I am trying to reason this out, whether I am not just a starving mouse being offered a fat tidbit of nice walnut. Any park would make a convenient meeting place, but they choose the huge forest so far from everything.
Losiny Ostrov was one of Ivan the Terrible's old hunting grounds--46 square miles of woods at the northeast edge of Moscow, a secluded place with walking trails through the birch forest. While I waited, I wondered what the hell Lev had done to this woman Irina that had landed her in a mental institution, but probably better not to even start thinking about it; Lev could be a sadistic bastard and I liked to keep my mind clear of him when I could. Tolya had warned me to keep it simple, to ease myself in, get what I needed and get out, but it was going to take more than just proof of paternity to build the kind of case I needed against Lev; after all, fathering an illegitimate kid was no big scandal. This particularly sordid little story had a lot more to it. Getting the information I wanted was going to involve some role-playing with a crazy woman that I wasn't particularly looking forward to, but if Irina believed I was a certain man from her past--or her imagination--then maybe with a little work she'd open up. If I played her right, maybe the bits and pieces of her memory would fall into place like tumblers in a lock and I'd learn something that would prove far more useful than just the few strands of hair we'd need for the DNA test.
DIARY OF LUDMILA ORLENEVA
But there was no need.
The man who arrived was as described, dark hair and green eyes, handsome actually. Irina clung to me, but his voice toward her was so calming at first that for a while I actually believed he must have known her in her life before. But then he said his name was Anton, and I knew he was up to something. The name seemed to make no impression on her in that moment, but eventually they went walking, her hand on his arm. Aha, I thought, but they were merely strolling along, looking up at the trees, pointing and talking. When they disappeared where the path turned, I went closer. They had stopped by a high fallen log and the man helped Irina onto it to sit. She seemed to enjoy the height, and flapped her arms like a bird. Then he took her hand, and they talked, too quietly for me to hear. I was waiting for him to make some move that would set her off like a screeching peacock, but he did nothing crude or forward, but only was careful. Eventually she reached into her shirt and drew out her precious, ragged scrap of paper and showed it to him. I could see her eyes questioning, saying 'Are you really him?'
But upon examining the paper, the man's face grew red, he turned toward me with a look as though his eyes would pop from anger and I thought surely, surely we are both done for, Irina and me. But no, after a moment he composed himself, coaxed her down from the log, calm as before--in all this Irina had noticed nothing--and brought her back to me. When Irina looked down to busy herself with folding her little paper, he pulled me aside--roughly--I am not a young bauble like Irina, though at least I am sane while she is not--and demanded to know who else comes to see her, and how often. I told him only the one man. His mouth was hard, his eyes especially so. I was shaking--his grip was hard, pinching my arm--but I spoke up and demanded the money he owed, and he dug in his pocket, then shoved it into my hand. When he turned to walk away, Irina's head came up. He looked away, down the path, took a step and then turned back. He said nothing, but he looked at her as a man who has lost a boat and later glimpses it floating downstream with the current.
On the way back, Irina rocked in her seat, humming, and stared out the window. I thought surely she would burst into tears, or a fit of screaming. But she was silent, running a finger lightly over her hand as the man had done.
In truth, I believed he would try to harm me instead of giving me the money. But I got it in the end. This nasty business with Nikolai is finally taken care of and Yuri and I will sleep soundly now.
Tolya woke up pretty fast when I slammed his face into the bed post.
"What the hell did you think you were pulling out there?"
"Lyosha, what--?" He tried to struggle but I had a good, tight grip on the neck of his shirt.
"Anton, remember?" I leaned in closer. "You shouldn't leave notes around in your own handwriting. Somebody might recognize it." I gave him another shove into the post, then let go of him and tried to catch my breath. I leaned in again--it makes them squirm like anything when you get really close--and gave him my best gritty voice. "Don't ever try anything like that again."
"It was good cover, Aleksei." He licked at the blood running down his lip and winced. "You got what you went for, did you not?"
I reached for a paper in my pocket and pulled out two long strands of hair, the material I needed for the DNA tests. "You could have gotten this yourself. Why send me to see her?"
I had to rough him up a little more, but I finally pulled the story out of him. He was the one who'd set Irina up with Lev in the first place. She'd been a runaway teenager living with friends on the Arbat, desperate for money, and Tolya figured he could use her to work some saleable information out of Lev. Of course, he didn't know Lev, or what he'd end up doing to the girl. Once Irina was a basket case, he'd grown a conscience.
"So you made up Anton who was going to come for her someday?"
Tolya nodded and looked down.
"And what was this about? Putting a little sunshine in her day by sending Anton to see her? That why you told me not to ask her any questions?"
All I got was a shoulder shrug. Tolya was staring a hole in the floor. I should've given him a good kick, but I didn't. "What happens when he never comes back?"
He looked up at that, but before he could say anything I'd backhanded him, knocking him flat on the mattress. Behind my eyes I saw Irina again, that almost-smile, that little tremble in her jaw, and beyond that something I didn't need, the cloudy image of a body lying on a country roadside, the girl's skirt flapping in the icy morning breeze. I swallowed, pulled out my gun, pointed it at him and nicked off the safety. I didn't say a word. I just watched Tolya shake.
Eventually things settled down and Tolya offered me an olive branch: information he'd been tracking about a rise in abductions in Kazakhstan. It could've been boom or bust; the reports were coming from the cosmodrome at Baikonur, and UFO sighting claims around launch facilities are always high. But Tolya's sources at RIAP--the Research Institute on Anomalous Phenomena in the Ukraine--had a hunch, and beside that he'd had a call from a 'woman in Paris who dealt with abductees'. Luckily Tolya hadn't gotten back to her and I made sure he wouldn't. The last thing I needed was to have Diana feeding tips to the old men in the board room. That is, if this turned out to be anything at all. But the trip to find out would only mean a few days' detour. I could use the time to come up with a plan for getting my hands on enough vaccine to take to Covarrubias, and beyond that, what kind of control I'd negotiate in exchange for supplying it. There were a couple of researchers at RIAP who wanted to interview the Baikonur witnesses, but they'd been told it would have to be on their own time because the evidence didn't look clear-cut enough to carry the official seal ,and RIAP is no MUFON; they answer to the Russian Academy of Sciences. For a donation toward their travel expenses, Tolya managed to get me signed on to their little expedition.
The day I left Moscow, the DNA results came in: Irina and the boy--I'd made Tolya get a sample from the kid--were a match. The kid's results also matched a print-out of Lev's that Tolya had wheedled from some starving file clerk at FSO headquarters, but he knew I'd be picking up a sample of my own to verify as soon as I got to the camp.
The RIAP researchers and I spent three days in Baikonur, a dust pit if there ever was one. Between the wind and the sand, I had to keep my laptop in a closet to keep grit from blowing into it. The sand managed to make its way into my socket liner, though. Together, the grit and the heat took its toll on my already sore stump, and the mentions we heard of triangle-shaped craft shook me in a way I thought I'd grown out of. On top of it all, my subconscious kept replaying that damn scene in the park, Irina with that look on her face that I couldn't quite get out of my head. Lena, my first encounter as a kid, had been a little touched herself and she'd had that same kind of half-smile, as if she were reaching for something that might only exist in her mind. Poor little zvezda.
On the face of it, our interviews were more puzzling than conclusive. Fourteen people had gone missing over a two-month period, nine of them on a single night the month before. Eight were women in their late teens and twenties; the rest were kids. None had been seen since, a fact that puzzled the guys from RIAP because they were used to talking to people who believed they'd been taken and then returned, but here all we had were sobbing relatives and the testimony of a handful of people who claimed they'd seen mysterious craft. There was no telling how many of them were telling the truth and how many, like Mulder, just wanted to believe.
As it turned out, abduction wasn't the only plausible explanation for the disappearances. Baikonur was the last outpost at the end of the world for a lot of women who'd gone there with their army husbands. They could have just gone AWOL and headed back to Russia. But their friends and relatives didn't think so. And it didn't explain the missing kids. The territory outside Baikonur city was pretty unforgiving. If they'd just wandered away and gotten lost, or been attacked by predators, there would have been some kind of trace evidence, but they'd found nothing.
The thing I kept turning over in my mind on the way to Kraznoyarsk was the one local who'd approached me. He had that look--the eyes that said he'd seen more than he could ever put to words. He was a worker at the complex and said he didn't want to be embarrassed in front of his bosses by having it known he'd talked to the UFO people; that was for women. But he told me his story about being taken by a ship, and described the same kind of craft the other witnesses had. He claimed to have seen some of the missing women in the craft, and then he didn't remember anything more; he lost consciousness and woke up about three kilometers from the launch complex. Only a couple of hours had passed. I guess it could have been a lie, but he was shaking enough at the retelling to seem pretty convincing. I didn't bother to pass along his story to the men from RIAP. It was possible that the old men tapped into RIAP's work occasionally--after all, their papers were available online--and if what this Kazakh had told me turned out to be significant, I wasn't going to give the group a leg up by offering the information up on a platter. But the significance of what he'd said stuck with me: he was the only adult male taken (or at least the only one to admit it); he was returned; and he was the only local involved while all the missing were Russians. I checked the back of his neck, looking for evidence of an implant, but there was nothing.
Maybe the old men knew about more of the alien agenda than they'd ever mentioned when I was around. Somehow I doubted that's what I was seeing evidence of here, though. The Brit didn't exactly trust me but he needed a sounding board for his fears and frustrations, and though we'd talked a lot, he'd never given any indication that there was more to the alien plan than what I already knew.
The other possibility was that the old men were being screwed over. Maybe there was more to the colonists' agenda than just having a hybrid developed so they could take over the planet in comfort. If that was true, it could change everything.
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