Petrovich Research Facility
Eastern Siberia, Russia
15:30 Local Time (07:30 GMT)
The snowmobile launched off the heavy bank of snow and flew through the air. Lance Tucker manhandled the machine, negotiated the landing perfectly, and gunned the engine. Of the six pursuers, only four successfully cleared the same bank and continued their pursuit.
Snow continued to fall softly as automatic weapons fire and the screaming of engines ripped through the once-quiet air. Lance tensed up and prepared for the worst. I’ve got to get away from them. Faster! Bullets peppered the snow all around him as he dodged and weaved toward a dense line of trees at the edge of the forest. It lay just a few hundred yards ahead, and he aimed the machine for the closest opening.
The windscreen fractured as one of his pursuer’s bullets ripped through the fabric in his coat, narrowly missing his elbow, and hit the glass. The terrain flattened out, giving Lance the opportunity to reach into his thick white coat and pull out his sidearm. With his right hand on the throttle, he turned back over his left shoulder and fired three rounds; one lucky shot ripped through the chest of the lead pursuer. The second in line plowed into the body and lost control. Lance smiled. Two more down. In his mirror he could see the second man dive off. The abandoned sled rolled and slammed into a boulder, permanently removed from the chase.
Lance entered the woods at full throttle, eyes wide with fear as bullets continued to fly past him. Bark from the trees exploded and bounced off his thick winter coat as the flying lead struck the wood all around him. Lance looked ahead. He scanned the landscape for the best route to make his escape. Lance turned his sled toward an outcropping of rock up ahead and to the right.
Beyond the rocks was a clearing. Lance could see the road that led out into the vast area that was Siberia. He quickly steered his snowmobile toward the rocks when another barrage of gunfire came his way. Three bullets struck the sled and a fourth hit his right calf. Lance screamed and winced in pain. The sled sputtered, he turned back to see four men on snowmobiles entering the woods. Come on! Don’t die on me yet! The engine struggled and smoked from the damage, and Lance desperately needed to find somewhere to take cover. He panned left, then right. His engine choked, and he looked down to see oil spewing out of the side. In his futile effort to keep his sled moving, his right runner slipped under the branch of a downed tree, hidden in the new fallen snow. The sudden stop flipped him over the handlebars onto his back.
Lance struggled to get up, but the pain radiating from the wound in his calf was too intense. He fired five more rounds toward the group of snowmobiles, then crawled to a large pine tree and hid out of view of the men who were hunting him. Two snowmobiles came to a stop just shy of where his snowmobile lay wrecked and Lance could hear one of them speaking into a radio. It crackled as the response came back. Two minutes later the churning metal of a snowcat plowing through the woods filled Lance’s ears; its tread gears squeaking and small branches snapping under the weight of the massive machine. Lance peeked around the tree and saw more men and a pack of dogs hop out of the metal beast. The sound of men speaking in Russian was drowned out by the barks and snarls of the dogs as they fought against their leashes.
“We know where you are, Agent Tucker. The tracks in the snow give you away.”
How the hell do they know my name? “Well, come and get me then!”
“You’re bleeding! Come out, and we can treat you.”
Yeah, my ass you will. Lance closed his eyes and took a deep breath. He pulled the magazine out of his pistol and checked how many rounds he had left. Half a clip. Shit! He slammed it back into the butt of his weapon.
“Not a chance.”
Lance spun around the base of the tree, squeezed the trigger and emptied his clip. The front light on one of the snowmobiles disintegrated as the lead tore through it. He released the empty clip. It fell quietly into the snow as he put in a new one. Bullets penetrated the back of the tree and ground around him.
“Hold your fire!” yelled the same voice as before. “Agent Tucker. I will send in the dogs if you do not come out.”
“Who am I talking to?”
“You know who I am, Agent Tucker. Do not play me for the fool.”
“Yeah—I know who you are. Nikoli Petrovich. The man who wants to change the world.”
“See? Not so difficult, was it? Now come out, and we can treat your wound.”
Lance stole another glance around the tree. Petrovich waved his hand forward and signaled to send in the dogs. Five German Shepherds lunged toward the tree like a pack of wolves going in for the kill.
Lance fired repeatedly. One beast crumpled to the side, but there were too many. Lance raised his arms to defend against the oncoming attack. He covered his face as razor sharp teeth tore through his clothes to his flesh. The scent of blood fueled their madness. His screams shattered the quiet and the fresh white powder quickly turned red as he bled from his arms, legs and neck.
“Call off the dogs,” Petrovich said calmly to the nearest man. Three men approached Lance and gave commands in Russian to the dogs. Petrovich stepped gingerly through the snow up to Lance. Narrowed eyes stared coldly down on him. He was bleeding profusely from his wounds.
Lance winced at the pain. The loss of blood, the cold; he felt numb.
“You’re not going to get away with this. I’ve reported everything.”
A wry smile creased his face. “On the contrary, Agent Tucker. I am getting away with it.” Petrovich reached into his coat and pulled out a Makarov pistol. “And you’ve not reported anything damaging about my operation. We’ve been watching you.” Petrovich laughed. “We’ve been spying on the spy.” The other men surrounding him laughed along; the thick snow muting the sound.
Lance stared at the tall, snow covered trees and weighed his options. His mind raced to think of anything he could say that might save him. “I’ve got information. If I don’t report back—”
Petrovich aimed his pistol at Lance’s head and pulled the trigger. The snow behind his head turned from white to dark crimson.
Petrovich gazed out beyond the clearing and down to the road where a lone car had stopped. As he tried to focus on it, the car started to move. He stepped through the snow to his right-hand man, Vasily.“Leave the body for the wolves.” He pointed to the car that was still in sight. “And find out who owns that car.”