Gavin Smith: Special Purposes: First Strike Weapon

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Gavin Smith Special Purposes: First Strike Weapon
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    Special Purposes: First Strike Weapon
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    Abaddon Books
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    Ужасы и Мистика / Боевая фантастика / Альтернативная история / на английском языке
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    Osney Mead
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Special Purposes: First Strike Weapon: краткое содержание, описание и аннотация

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1987, THE HEIGHT OF THE COLD WAR. For Captain Vadim Scorlenski and the rest of the 15th Brigade, being scrambled to unfamiliar territory at no notice, without a brief or proper equipment, is more or less expected; but even by his standards, their mission to one of the United States’ busiest cities stinks… World War III was over in a matter of hours, and Vadim and most of his squad are dead, but not done. What’s happened to them, and to millions of civilians around the world, goes beyond any war crime; and Vadim and his team—Skull, Mongol, Farm Boy, Princess, Gulag, the Fräulein and New Boy—won’t rest until they’ve seen justice done.

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Gavin Smith


To Kiera & Bill, who are also fans of splattery messes.


1604 Eastern Standard Time (EST), 16th November 1987

Grand Central Station, New York City

THE SCREAMING WAS more distant now, and the gunfire had stopped.

Captain Vadim Scorlenski had blood on his face and meat in his mouth. He spat out the gobbets of raw flesh and tried not to look at them.

He held his Stechkin pistol loosely in his right hand and looked across the Park Avenue Viaduct over 42nd Street, towards the dark mouth of the Park Avenue Tunnel. At his back was the colonnaded frontage of the huge, square, neoclassical building that was Grand Central Station. Ancient Roman imperialism, complete with statues of Hercules, Minerva and Mercury, reimagined in the early 20th century and transplanted to America. It was dark now, or as dark as it seemed to get in this city. The tall buildings running down either side of the viaduct were well-lit. Focusing on them, it was easy to believe that nothing was happening. They provided a counterpoint to the wreckage spread out in front of him: the bullet-riddled police cars and yellow cabs, the Emergency Services Unit SWAT van on its roof, cars crushed underneath it where the RPG hit had flipped it into the air, and the burning wreckage of an NYPD helicopter. Everywhere, a carpet of empty shell casings, and so much blood on the ground; but so few bodies.

Other than the distant screaming echoing through the concrete and glass canyons, the only other sounds were the steady drip of blood and tinny music coming from someone’s transistor radio. The insipid American teen, singing about how they were alone now, contrasted obscenely with what he’d done, they’d done. The crime he’d helped commit. Vadim had thought himself a monster. He believed that he had come to terms with it. Now he realised he had never really known what a monster was. It had been a long time since Vadim had felt capable of weeping, and now the tears could not come. He was not as he had been. Instead he started to laugh, until the laughter became a dry, painful sob. Or it would have been painful, if pain were something he still felt.

He had no idea how he’d ended up out front of the grand train station. He was missing time, and his face was covered in someone else’s blood. The last thing he remembered was being in the lower levels, amongst the platforms, looking for a way out for his squad. He had turned to find a terrified New York City Transit Police officer raising his revolver. He had been little more than a boy. Vadim hadn’t been able to bring up his AK-74 quickly enough. The police officer had just been doing his job, protecting the passengers on the platform. For some reason, Vadim found this comforting. He hoped the boy and the passengers had lived, though he knew it was unlikely.

He saw the bright light first. He closed his eyes and it shone through his eyelids, but not bright enough to damage his retinas permanently, assuming that was still an issue. They hadn’t targeted New York itself; the detonation had been to the west somewhere. Another bright light followed moments later; the oil refineries in New Jersey, maybe. The high-rise canyons of New York protected Vadim from the worst of the skin-burning flash.

The white light turned the city into a photographic negative for a moment. Then another flash from the south and he knew that Philadelphia had gone. The ground and the mighty buildings shook, the road over the viaduct cracked. The firestorm had blown itself out by the time it had reached Manhattan Island, leaving only hot, radioactive winds to howl through the artificial canyons.

“Fools,” he tried to say to himself. His voice sounded dry, like the crack of wood snapping in a fire. It didn’t sound like him anymore. He wondered, if he stood up and looked to the west, would he see mushroom clouds?

Lights in the surrounding buildings winked out, but he could still hear the tinny American pop music; the electromagnetic pulse had apparently not reached Manhattan. Presumably, it had taken out a facility that supplied power to the city. Lights flickered on in some of the surrounding buildings as emergency power kicked in. Some of the light was red, which seemed appropriate to Vadim for a number of reasons. He almost started laughing again, but he knew that if he did, he wouldn’t stop, until he put the Stechkin to his head and blew his brains out. Even then, he wasn’t sure that would stop him now.

He felt cold. No, that wasn’t true. He didn’t really feel anything. He knew he was cold, though. He couldn’t feel his heart beating, his chest rising and falling, he couldn’t even feel his wounds. The only thing he felt was the hunger; the need to hunt, to feed. It was all-encompassing. It took everything he had to remain sitting there, not to answer the hunger’s call, not to let go of himself. He wondered if he’d still be there, locked in behind his eyes, witness to atrocities at a new level. He suspected, however, that it would be a sweet release from the war inside himself. He had to do the right thing.

Just for once, he thought. He tasted the Stetchkin’s barrel, felt it grind against his teeth as he angled it up. He started to squeeze the trigger, watched the hammer click back.

Then he saw her. The Fräulein, his massively built East German second-in-command. Sergeant Liesl Sauer of the East German Army had been transferred to the Spetsnaz company he now commanded. After Skull, the Fräulein had been with him the longest. She was moving between the bullet-riddled police cars amongst the flames, covered in blood. Some of it was undoubtedly hers, but the blood on her face probably wasn’t.

Vadim had no idea why he was still in control of his body, still sentient, but he owed it to the Fräulein to put her out of her misery before seeing to himself. He stood up and made his way across the viaduct towards her. The Fräulein’s head twitched around to look at him as soon as he moved. Vadim raised the pistol as he approached. She was staring at him.

He needed to get close. He had no idea where his rifle was, and he had to shoot her in the head, at least twice. To make sure that she was at peace before he followed.

She waited for him, her flat, brutish face lit by the orange flickering flame of the burning helicopter. Then he saw it in her eyes: recognition, intelligence. Liesl was still in there somewhere.

“Vadim?” a Ukrainian-accented voice asked from behind him.


0452 Afghanistan Time (AFT), 6th November 1987

North-Eastern Badakshan Province, Afghanistan

THE VILLAGE WAS burning, and the Spaniard was dead. The Hind D attack helicopter had dropped incendiaries to soften up the mujahideen before landing Vadim and his people. The helicopter had then circled the area, staying low and using the surrounding mountainous terrain as cover, whilst providing the squad with air support, should they need it. The nap-of-the-earth flying was prudent; after all they were here hunting American Stingers, man-portable surface-to-air missiles. The missiles were the mujahideen’s most effective weapon against the Shaitan-Arba, or ‘Satan’s Chariot’, as they called the fearsome Hind gunships. Vadim and his squad were acting on intelligence provided by the KGB. An American mercenary in the pay of their CIA was rumoured to be bringing the Stingers in from nearby northern Pakistan.

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