Part 9: Chapter FourChapter Four
The rest of the day was spent in toils. Going out into the steppes, gathering the herbs it was entirely uneventful, except for a letter that was handed to Artemiy at some point during the harvest.
A confidential note
An address to all the patrolmen, doctors, mailmen and executors.
The information presented in this note is to be kept confidential. Do not spread this information among the general population in lieu of panic.
There is no cure for the disease. There is no antiserum. No cure will be sent from the Capital. There are a couple of good news, though.
The probability of infection is lowered considerably upon taking immunoboosting medicine. For now, it is known that A-Tablets and B-Tablets (yellow and blue, respectively) help stave off the infection. Remember, that large doses of these medicines can cause considerable harm to your health.
Clothes, made from synthetic materials, can also help you repel the infection. Do no, under any circumstances, wear any clothes made of wool (parasites). Clothes are to be changed regularly.
The disease progresses unevenly. During the early stages, the disease's progress will be almost negligible if stymied by antibiotics. However, with repeated exposure to the sources of infection, the disease will begin progressing exponentially.
This is not an airborne disease. The modes of transmission are currently unknown. Based on the preliminary data, in its early stages, the disease is not infectious at all. In these cases, the contact between the infected and uninfected is not prohibited.
Additional note for You: considering Your exceptional mission, it is very unlikely that you will be able to avoid the infection. However, even if you do get infected, do not despair. It will happen sooner or later, anyway. Keep the disease confined to its early stages, take antibiotics. Sooner or later, a panacea will be made. Keep in mind the children' powders. They will certainly burn out your innards, but the disease will be eliminated as well.
Perhaps, a bit of useful information for the future, but Artemiy hoped to avoid this state of affairs, if it could be helped.
Artemiy worked until the end of the day, with no further disturbance. The work yielded a new stock of mixtures, as well as a new set of possibly useful notes from his Father's diary.
Diary of Isidore Burakh: Excerpt on the First Outbreak (pg. 29)
Raw structures, notes on houses number 2,3,5,7 11, 13.
State of affairs on 4 PM 118 infected, 3 dead.
State of affairs on 7 PM 281 infected, 99 dead(!)
Houses 1, 6 everyone dead, except cows. Children unknown, quarantine.
Houses 12, 14 all boarded up.
Conclusions : The spread is exponential. Mortality is almost at one hundred percent. Surviving this is a miracle. Isolation at all costs is necessary. Black Quarantine.
Curriers, houses 2, 7 (bordering with Raw Structures) strange signs, boarded up.
Raw Structures, sate of affairs on 2 AM 51 infected, 217 dead. None healthy.
Uninfected after taking the Sparrow's mixture: myself, Uprin, Rubin.
Infected after taking the swift concoction: Obodn., Nurkh, Bode.
Healed by the dead broth: Nurkh.
All these are the sign of her approach, Suokh. A time will come, when the Ancient Mother, in her hunger, will deem it fit to consume her offspring. The depth of her maw is immeasurable and the heat of her dark depths will not be quenched. Soil, dirt. Complete darkness. Horror.
These could be useful, though not directly for Artemiy. He did not command the influence and power his father did, after all both Rubin and Saburov were still hunting for him, and Alexander Saburov just obtained the powers he was vying for.
The work continued deep into the evening, until Artemiy took a couple of hours of well-deserved rest. When he woke up, it was 1 AM, and that, of course, meant, that a new production was on at the theater.
Artemiy heard the two voices from the previous night, carrying on their debate, it would seem...
She is afraid of nonliving matter she immediately disappears from the dead. They have concluded if you act properly and carefully hide, then you can wait it all out. The glass will preserve all the best things, as it has been foretold.
This particular voice was speaking with great exaggeration and incredibly uneven pauses like a very poor theatrical actor. He wasn't selling his lines very well at all...
What does that mean?
It occurred to Artemiy, for a second, that this particular voice was very akin to his own something he didn't think of during the first night. He didn't get the chance to ponder this for long, though, because he heard another familiar voice right afterwards.
This means that we can still fight it. The pathogen survives only in live cells and is repelled by dead matter. The ones who hide in their homes have more chances to survive. Hustling and bustling is a road straight into an early grave. All in all, we can still fight.
Well, aren't you something... You have your own vested interest here, too. You're always happy to be fighting something you just have to find a suitable force. What about the people, though?
Shhh! Stop bothering him! It looks, like he has already thought of something...
Everything is bad... Everything is very, very bad.
The last line belonged to Dankovsky as well, but, this time, it was a slurring voice of a clearly drunken version of himself.
REEL 5: Masks' Nightly Production Night Three
Artemiy was a bit confused by all this, but he chalked it up to the theater having a good cast of voice imitators and left it at that. He had more important things to consider, anyway.
It was 3 AM, and Artemiy, for the first time in a couple of days, didn't have much to do. With nary a lead, he decided, first things first, to visit Notkin and see just how expediently his maps of the infected districts are produced.
Coming out of the theater, however, he stumbled on the first infected district on his own. A portion of the Knots was clearly demarcated as infected. Were the Olgimsky safe? He could only hope that the walls of the Clot would protect them.
The clang of the rain droplets on the shanty warehouse roofs produced a rather sonorous sound. Artemiy did not imagine anyone spending their nights here having a good night's sleep.
Indeed, most of the children weren't asleep.
Neither was Notkin.
Can you believe it? The Curriers are completely empty! The disease is gone, too as if nothing happened. Something weird is afoot... Matchstick is, probably, feeling pretty happy right about now! I worry about him, though...
Curious indeed... What is happening over there right now?
Marauders are having a free reign there now. The houses are open just like yesterday. They're taking everything that isn't nailed down. They'll probably organize soon, too. They killed one good fellow I knew, and they also have killed Hernia's elder brother. We gotta teach those jerks a lesson.
Notkin, it seemed, always wanted to teach someone a lesson the town had plenty of folks who could stand to learn some lessons, it's true, but Artemiy had to protect the boy, even if he seemed insistent on getting himself into all sorts of trouble.
Why are you always so bloodthirsty, Notkin?
I'm not thirsty for blood I'm thirsty for justice! They're killing folk we have to pay evil unto evil. We would go there ourselves, but we have a bit of... business we have to attend to fairly soon. I worry about Matchstick, though he'll certainly try to fight them himself. Do you want to kick their asses or no?
They could, very well, kick my ass too, you know...
They say, that the marauders are walking around with these crowbars stole them from the factories, apparently. Hey, everyone! I'm ready to give a reward for every dead marauder. Whoever brings me four of marauders' crowbars will get... well, trust me, - the reward will be commensurate.
Artemiy didn't feel like getting into another scuffle, but that could mean indirectly protecting two of the boys that he had an obligation to protect. With this in mind, he took on the task.
An interesting offer consider it accepted. By the way, have your scouts put together the map?
Yup, got it right here. We did quite a bit of work quite fast, too. Five hundred coins. That's the price.
It wasn't much, especially considering the price hike that occurred in the recent days, but, still, this was not part of the original deal.
Why does it cost that much, anyway?
Oh... you know equipment, odds and ends. I'm not lying!
Fine. Whatever. Here you go.
It seems that the Folds and The Womb were the two districts afflicted by the disease today. The Curriers were also marked with the black colour. Burned out, perhaps? In any case, that's where Artemiy's path would take him next.
Desperate Notkin wants to, in a way, protect his comrades those who are scouting out the infected districts. He promises a reward for gathering four crowbars that marauders carry around and use to get inside the boarded houses.
The rough men let him pass without any trouble, just like the last time. Today, however, something was different in the air.
Just as Notkin reported, the disease seemed to be gone. There were no more clouds, no more wailing.. No people, too unless, you count the patrolmen and the occasional bandit, who were being conspicuously ignored by the patrolmen. An odd state of affairs. Artemiy checked one of the houses to see if the stories about marauders were true.
Upon entering the house, Artemiy was charged at by a very skinny, very agile man. He moved quite fast, but charging a man with a shotgun head-on isn't the most wise of decisions.
The man did have one of the bizarre, self-made crowbars on him that Notkin was vying for. Examining the house further, Artemiy bumped into another of these marauders. He employed the same tactics and met the same end.
The house was already cleaned out, aside from a few odds and ends. With two of the four crowbars, Artemiy decided to check another house for the marauders.
Disturbingly enough, the second house was completely identical to the first one in every way almost every way, that is. The second marauder was hiding in a different spot.
If there were marauders in every house, and Matchstick lived here, then that meant that the kid could, very well, be in danger. Artemiy decided to try and find one of the Adherents that he has sworn to protect. This did, unfortunately, meant going from house to house.
All the houses were completely identical to each other, until, finally, one of the houses was different.
The interior was dilapidated, as if it was in the middle of being repaired before it was abandoned. It wasn't a maze, but it was, still, a bit hard to navigate. Soon enough, however, Artemiy found whom he was looking for.
The boy was unusually relaxed, for someone hiding out in an abandoned house in a district full of marauders.
What a bunch of rascals... Can you imagine? The Dualsouls are saying, that I am spying for Khan! Calling me a traitor, too... They're not taking me with them to rob the thieves! Bunch of jerks...
Are their suspicions correct?
Suspicions? Is that what you call it? Notkin is simply getting back at me for not joining his gang back in the day! Khan is the same way, too! The things I've done for both of 'em... These jerks think they're royalty or something... Well, they better watch out!
So, you're saying that the Dualsouls want to rob the robbers?
Yeah, that's right. They won't manage to pull it off, though. They're planning to arm themselves, and they've gathered their weapons in one place. I think I'll mess with them a bit, though. Let's steal their weapons? That way, we'll keep these dummies away from thieves' knives too!
Keeping Notkin out of trouble did seem like a good idea.
Well, alright. Where are they keeping the weapons?
Go to the cemetery. My buddy, Stump, is there. Tell him that you're helping me out. He'll show you where it is. The password is tattletale. But watch it you better share what you find. If you take it all for yourself, you'll pay. Trust me.
Tattletale, you say... Very well. You've got yourself a deal.
Near the cemetery, a kid is waiting for someone, who'll be brave enough to raid an arms stash.
Artemiy already had the crowbars he needed, so he was free to pursue this task at his leisure.
It was only early morning, and the bandits were still preying on the passersby.
Any one of them that crossed Artemiy's path were dispatched accordingly.
Soon enough, Artemiy was at the cemetery. The teenage kid stuck out like a sore thumb or, perhaps, like a big stump in a clearing.
The hell did you come here for? Did you come for your own funeral?
Easy there, kid. Are you Stump? Tattletale. I'm coming with you, in Matchstick's stead.
Ah, I see... Good on Matchstick who knows what's in there... They've all gone mad, like rabid dogs! I would stick one to them, too, if I could... Okay, come after me.
Hey, wait a bit...
We're going without any stops, time is money here... I hope we don't bump into them on the way... Well if that happens, you'll fight them off, I bet.
Alright, let's go.
The kid was quite fast, and made it tough for Artemiy to keep up.
Strangely enough, a bandit was in their path. Quite possibly, the Dualsouls' dumb idea became public knowledge, and the bandits were planning to ambush the kids, who'd come here to get their weapons. They launched themselves at Artemiy, ignoring the kid for now.
Soon enough, they were all handily dispatched.
Phew... we're here! Weird it's locked. They either haven't come here yet, or they've already left... Do you have a lockpick?
Artemiy wasn't in the manner of keeping such things, he was an honest man and had no use for them none that he could recall.
No, I don't.
Dammit! We should've gotten one from Matchstick I thought, that the stash was wide open! When did the Dualsouls close it, I wonder?
Don't worry I'll sort it out thanks for bringing me here.
Hey! How about some tips for your guide?
Alright, now don't get too greedy. If I come back alive, you'll get something.
The kid began walking away, his loud curses being carried in the night steppe wind. One place where Artemiy could reliably get a lockpick was Griff's place. It was easy, really he could visit Notkin, get his reward and then go straight to Griff.
The dawn was slowly creeping up on the night.
Some of the kids were gone, with new ones taking their place. Everyone had a mission, it seemed the Dualsouls functioned like a well-oiled mechanism. Good on Notkin, indeed.
Notkin seemed lost in thought - savouring his cunning plan coming into fruition, no doubt. He was giddy with excitement to the point, where he opened his conversation with Artemiy with a complete non-sequitur.
Are you stocking up on arms too?
Artemiy obviously knew what he was talking about, but letting Notkin know would complicate things.
No. Why do you ask? Whatever, I don't care. Are these the crowbars you wanted?
Yup that's them. I'll keep my word. Here, from our house to yours, so to speak.
Notkin handed Artemiy a strange hodgepodge of various ammunition in one big pile. There was rifle ammo, revolver ammo and some slugs about 15 of them in total.
Thanks. Mount these crowbars on the wall, if you want.
We've taught a lesson to Marauders. Hopefully, this'll make them think twice before robbing folk again.
Artemiy went out and began heading in the direction of Griff's warehouse when he spotted a hapless passerby.
He didn't notice Artemiy, giving him the chance to sneak up on the guy.
Inside one of the bandit's pockets was, funnily enough, a lockpick.
Quite a bit of luck, that it also meant that Artemiy wouldn't have to see Griff's scowling mug today. Neat.
While Artemiy was walking on the rails, the clock struck 7 AM
Day Four, by the end of which, Haruspex will be able obtain a friend and find a half-living enemy.
The disease seemed to progress in much the same way that Isidore described in his diaries. Almost everyone who got infected died within 24 hours. For now, there was no escape.
The trek was largely uneventful, and there were no more bandits at the house. Artemiy fiddled with the lock for a bit and opened the door.
This was a right surprise, indeed. The house was infected. Perhaps, that is the reason why it was locked? Still, Artemiy had to scour the house for weapons.
Unfortunately, with filthy rags hanging everywhere and the clouds of infection chasing him, it was like looking for a needle in a haystack that was trying to actively murder you. An unfortunate situation. Finally, on the second floor, Artemiy managed to find a single sawn-off shotgun on the bed with some ammo for it. Was this it? Did someone get to the stash before him and infect the house? If so, why? It wasn't the right time for such deliberations, though.
Artemiy was in and out in less than a minute. Only swiftness and luck could save him from infection, after all.
The stash has been emptied. Now, it's unlikely that the kids will try to fight the bandits. Hopefully, this will save a couple of lives.
The process of writing the journal entry has been rudely interrupted by someone shoving a letter into Artemiy's hands.
Bachelor's Invitation: What is Rubin hiding?
It seems, that I am unable to trust our common acquaintance. He has hidden from me something very important! Please come it is urgent. I think, that the material, with which he is working, could be useful both to me and you. I'll tell you more when we meet.
It seems, that Bachelor didn't quite grasp the current relationship between Stakh and Artemiy. Still, he would see him after talking to Matchstick about what he found in the house.
This trek was also largely uneventful until Artemiy reached the curriers.
The fight was a protracted one, and it seemed, as if the patrolmen' hearts were not in it. Curious.
Artemiy had to step in to help finish this scuffle.
In the morning, the sandy orange hue was much stronger. Where did this colour come from? Perhaps, Bachelor knew? It was entirely strange and unexplainable, but it did fill Artemiy with a feeling of emptiness and dread.
Don't look so gloomy, Burakh. Everything will work out.
Maybe, if we survive that long... I've found the stash, kid. Thanks for the tip. Did you know, that the house it was in was infected?
Really? You aren't kidding?
Kidding? Why would I be? Ask your friend, if you want.
Huh... You know what, you keep the stuff you got out of there... I don't quite need it, either.
Wise choice, kid.
Unfortunately, Matchstick didn't provide any useful information about the possible source of the infection, but, at least, the kid was safe and the Dualsouls were kept out of trouble. This would be enough to keep Artemiy content for now. Time to visit Dankovsky.
The shortest path lay through the Womb a quarantined district. Traversing it carried a certain amount of danger, though nothing Artemiy couldn't handle.
Track 9 Knots (Disease)
One cloud almost got Artemiy by blindsiding him, but he managed to dodge out of the way in time. Onward.
Well, this was rather curious. The cloud of infection was hanging outside the actual quarantined zone. A bit unusual, since, until now, Artemiy noted that the disease kept itself strictly confined to certain district, yet here it was, breaking its own bounds.
Artemiy decided not to ponder the situation too long and ducked in the Whirpool - the folk' name for Eva Yan's house, where Dankovsky has been taking residence for the past four days.
Daniil was expecting him, as usual.
Yesterday's experiments have ended up in a complete and utter failure. I couldn't extract the microbial strain from the dead tissue. Not to worry, though there is hope yet!
Complete and utter failure? Aren't you exaggerating?
Oh, not at all. I couldn't procure any live bacteria and one can't do anything with this, pardon my language, shit that is left in the tissue after the disease is done with it. I won't even mention antibodies at this point. I'm not despairing, though not yet.
Master Rubin, who doesn't quite trust me and is concealing something important from me, has a strange source. Based on this source, he is already making the first prototypes. It isn't a vaccine yet, but it's a start. I imagine, that you are just as interested in this source as I am.
Indeed, I am. Do tell.
It looks, like Rubin is working with a carrier someone who has, in his blood, a weakened strain of the microbe. I don't imagine, that we can make a vaccine out of something like that. It seems, that your mixtures deal with this version of the disease in a very short order. The main question is, what could weaken the infection like that?
Do you know who this carrier is?
No, and I'm quite curious to find out. Rubin won't tell me anything, though. The two of you, on the other hand, have a much closer relationship. Perhaps, he'll open up to you.
I doubt that Rubin hates me.
Nonsense. Last time I've talked to him, he couldn't stop espousing your good name and your innocence. Now, he sees in you a hero and regrets his zealous rage completely.
Does he, now... Where can I find him?
Now that... That, I cannot tell you. I gave my word.
I should've expected this, thought Artemiy. Still, that didn't stop him from thinking Dankovsky to be quite dumb at that moment.
What? Are you kidding me right now?
I hold Rubin's trust very dearly. It's fragile. If he finds out, that I gave up his secret hideout which is, by the way, being sought for by armed patrolmen I would lose a very valuable ally. No you need to find Rubin yourself.
Artemiy adored having his time wasted in a wanton manner. Luckly for Bachelor, today was the day when Artemiy had a lot of it on his hands.
How in the hell am I supposed to look for him, then?
I was introduced to him by a very sweet personage, by the name of Lara Ravel. She is a very kind and soft creature. I don't imagine that you will be able to get in her good graces without a good, clean reputation.
Artemiy has been working on keeping his good name out of trouble, it's true. Anyone who isn't a zealous fanatic like, say, Alexander Saburov would've been convinced of his innocence right now.
Very well, I'll go have a chat with her.
The Bachelor sure has his principles. Not wanting to take responsibility for my upcoming encounter with Rubin, he sent me to talk to Lara Ravel, who should tell me where he is to be found. Apparently, she is also a principled personage I'm not even sure if she'll talk to a Ripper such as myself.
Getting to Lara Ravel's house would mean, once more, braving an infected district.
Track 10 Stone Yard (Disease)
No incidents, no clouds nothing. Artemiy was completely ignored, for now. A free pass, one could've said.
The trek wasn't a long one and, soon enough, he was at his destination.
The interior was lavish, even by the Adherents' standards. Truly, a feast in time of plague. Artemiy couldn't entirely tell if this was excess or necessity, though there were quite a lot of people here.
Perhaps, this wasn't a feast, after all. Did the owner of the home turn it into a boarding home of some sort? Artemiy wasn't sure if there was a logic to such a plan, but he wouldn't question it. That wasn't what he was here for, after all.
Who are you? Did the Harpist send you? What are these red stains on your clothes?
I am the son of Isidore Burakh. My name is Artemiy.
Her expression told him, that she knew who he was. Despite this, she didn't chase him out of her home right there and then. His good deeds must have worked their magic in this town.
Can I help you?
I'm looking for Stakh Rubin. Do you know where he could be?
I do due to a lucky coincidence, but still. Why do you want to know? Do you want to take your revenge?
Revenge? For what?
He was threatening to kill you. He believes, that you've killed Isidore. That isn't true, though... Is it?
What is your opinion on that matter, I wonder...
Oh, I don't know what to think anymore...
It doesn't really matter whatever happens, Rubin can hold his own ground. Where is he?
First, you'll tell me why you need to see him!
She was soft-spoken, but there was a strong determination behind her words. Fighting her on this would be to no avail.
I'm making a panacea just like he is. I want to know if he had any progress.
Can you give me your word that you won't reveal his location to anyone else? Can you swear on your Father's memory?
Lara was going straight for jugular here. Still, Artemiy liked her enough, that he was ready to give such a promise. Besides, he wasn't going to do anything to endanger Rubin anyway.
There was a big fight at the abandoned warehouses, near the Factories. The townsfolk found a lair that belonged to Bragha's gang the gang that was the first to start cutting... oh God... cutting people up. Rubin snuck in there he was called to help treat the wounded. Look there.
Thank you, Lara
Rubin has left his hideout and is, now, paying his debts after the slaughter in Bragha's den, at the abandoned warehouses near the Factories.
This particular trek was a long one especially if Artemiy was to go around the infected Womb district. Still, he had time to spare, and he had no wish to go through navigating clouds of infection again. He went the long way around.
Near the theater, Artemiy stumbled upon a bit of a scene.
The poor fellow was making a break for it, while the patrolman had clear trouble catching up to him. Artemiy didn't want to step in it wasn't his job to put down the sick ones, after all. People wouldn't understand. He let the scene play out.
Finally, the patrolman threw a knife at the escapee, catching him straight in the back of the neck. The matter was over, and the corpse was swiftly dragged away from the street by two burly patrolmen. Artemiy went on.
Being within a spitting distance from the warehouse where Rubin was supposed to be, Artemiy realized that he is quite tired. He did not sleep since 1 AM, after all, and it was 11 AM now. He could use a nap, and, besides, Rubin was not going anywhere. If what Lara said was true, then he would be at the warehouse for a while. With his hideout being very close, Artemiy decided to have a good, old-fashioned nap.
When Artemiy emerged three hours later, the sky was entirely gray just like yesterday. Perhaps, this was the effect of the green miasma of infection rising up in the noon heat? He was not sure.
A brief jog later, Artemiy was at the doors of the marked warehouse.
Just as Lara said, wounded men littered the floor of the warehouse. Stakh Rubin was there, as well, his work clearly a grisly one.
Despite what happened in the past days, Stakh waited for Artemiy to address him.
I have to ask for your forgiveness, Artemiy.
Artemiy wasn't about to hold grudges against his childhood friend especially, not in these times.
Everything is forgotten and forgiven, Stakh. I know how much you loved my father.
They told me, that you've taken on his obligations. That you've started making a panacea. That you are toiling, risking life and limb every hour of every day. You are being chased, too just like me.
I am, am I? I wonder why...
Everything has gotten mixed up... They've just told me a strange tale. I think, that you are being chased after for my crimes. For Simon Kain.
I've heard that Simon Kain has been killed, yes.
Remember, when you were attacked? At the station? Well, they were trying to ambush Simon's killer. They thought, that he would try to hide in one of the wagons, when the train was going to come.
This wasn't anything new Artemiy has known this information for a while
What are we to do with that, exactly? I think, that oinon Dankovsky has already managed to find out the truth of the matter. Simon's killer is among us, and we cannot bring it to justice quite yet.
No, you don't understand. We are being chased by zealots, for desecrating Simon's corpse. If you have to know, they are correct to chase after me for this crime. After I realized what is hiding in the blood of that superhuman, I made a desperate decision. I decided to make a cure for the Sand Fever out of Simon Kain.
Why didn't you explain everything? They would understand...
Would they? It's useless to try to explain anything to Kains. Simon was a fetish for them. A totem! They would rather rely on his sacred powers, on the magic that his name carried or God knows what else. It is a family of powerful mystics cultists, even. They believe in no science, other than their magic.
I see... What are you going to do with Simon?
I've already done it. I've performed a terrible sacrilege. I've opened his body along all of the lines and drained him to the last drop. I've procured a strain of bacteria from him and made a number of samples of a protective vaccine. Old Simon has fed the humanity with himself once more.
Have you checked his blood for antibodies?
That was the first thing I've done there was nothing of the sort in his blood. You know me, I am a skeptic, but every time I encounter the Kains' magic, I am gripped by fear. The disease, for some reason, was slowly waning in him on its own. Not dying, mind you.
On its own? How so?
His blood is absolutely different from everything I've seen, on the base level. I have to go so far as to say, that it's not entirely human blood. That is, it is blood of something more than human, understand? Whatever the case, the blood is gone. All of it was spent on the vaccines. Don't feel too bad, though I don't think it would've helped you in making the panacea.
This was disappointing, but Artemiy knew that he could trust Rubin to pursue this avenue of research thoroughly. If he turned up without a cure, Artemiy wouldn't have either. This saved him his time and efforts and, therefore, was nothing to begrudge Stakh for.
I see... Thanks for the news.
I'm sorry, that the news weren't more useful. Don't hold it against me, please.
I won't. Good luck to you, Stakh.
Rubin nodded. It was time for the two friends to part ways, once more. Rubin had his work to do, and Artemiy had his.
So, this is the end that was met by the Overhuman Simon... I have to give it to him he did, in the end, prove that a human can defeat the Sand Fever. His blood is the proof of that fact. I do have to wonder, though could it have been possible to make a panacea out of his blood?
Artemiy's day was done, it seemed. He would go back to his hideout and continue with the same activities, slowly but surely approaching the coming of the panacea.
That is what Artemiy thought was going to happen, at least.
Only three men? thought Artemiy. There weren't three of them, though there were four. A heavy blow to the back of the head was the last thing Artemiy felt before blacking out.
Artemiy woke up in a cell, located somewhere that looked like a factory. Two guards were patrolling outside of it. A cloud of disease hung near it, as well. The strangest thing was in the fact, that the two seemed to be completely unaware of it, though they seemed to instinctively walk around it.
There was a corpse near the cell's bars and, when the two patrolmen went away, Artemiy bolted to quickly search the corpse. He found a revolver with three bullets in the drum.
Armed with this, he could surely escape his predicament possibly, even unharmed. Unfortunately for Artemiy, this is when the cloud began to advance towards him slowly, but methodically and with obvious intent.
Soon, it was joined by a second one and, together, they formed a wall that was slowly pressing Artemiy against the back wall of the cell.
Artemiy tried to hold his breath, but the clouds were patient. They had a role to fulfill and they were not going to go off script just for him. After a minute or so, Artemiy finally breathed in a lungful of miasmatic air. It was like breathing in a handful of very old dust, causing Artemiy to break into a savage coughing fit.
This was, of course, quite enough, but the clouds stuck around until the job was finally, completely done and Artemiy blacked out once more.