Translator: DC Editor: PurpleUnisaurus Proofreader: PurpleUnisaurus TLC: Yomigaeru, ShimizuA, Lox
Chapter One: The Blood Sucking Princess and the Winged Dragon
Очи индиго – Indigo Eyes
First Lieutenant Liev Lepus was free-falling at two hundred kilometers per hour.
He jumped from an aircraft at an altitude of three thousand plus meters, with his belly down, he spread out his arms and legs and rode on the layer of air.
His goggles clung to his face.
The wind whipped around him as his body cut through the air. Cold air permeated through his padded jacket.
Below him were the open parachutes of the cosmonaut cadets which fell before him and the cream-colored flowers that bloomed along the vast plains.
He caught the sight of the Borik River flowing like a belt.
He slowly drew closer to mother earth.
“It’s about time…”
As he pulled the ripcord with his freezing fingers, his parachute released.
A canopy rushed outwards from the bag on his back, the silken umbrella expanded largely as it caught air, quickly and forcefully lifting his body.
While rocking in the air, Liev muttered to himself.
“This is cosmonaut Liev Lepus, I have returned from space just now…!”
His voice didn’t reach anybody, as it dissolved into the air.
If his superior officer heard such a joke, he’d get scolded severely.
Liev’s face winced as he tightly grasped his parachute cord.
The grand evening sunset colored the desolate wetland red.
Liev and the other cosmonaut cadets who had finished training for parachute landing, got on the air force bus directly headed towards the space development municipal, “Laika 44”. This city was an essential location to push forward the “Miechita Project”, it was a recently established sector that underwent construction in March of 1960 of the Orthodox Calendar, where nine thousand authorized personnel who were involved in space development lived.
However, “Laika 44” was not listed on any state-issued maps, and there were no registered inhabitants. Furthermore, it was named “Laika City” from a coal mining city located forty-four kilometers southwards; though, the two are completely unrelated.
This was a government-led camouflaged campaign to gather intelligence against the United Kingdom.
“Laika 44”,[a closely administered region] where Liev lived, was an existence which itself was a state secret. The population was obligated to swear to confidentiality—it was strictly prohibited to speak of work content, residence, etc, outside of the city. If violated, then the secret police, the National Preservation Committee—a.k.a. the [Express Company] personnel would visit them early in the morning and have them dispatched to the mines.
Thus, even though a majority of the nation’s populace knew of the successful man-made satellite launch, they were not aware of the state of affairs of space development.
“To deceive an enemy, first, you must deceive a friend.”
This thorough secretiveness is a traditional means of the republic.
Municipalities which were veiled in secrecy were troublesome to reach. To fly within the sphere of these regions were prohibited, and railroads did not pass through them, so, they could only be reached by automobile.
Departing from the main thoroughfare onto a side road which cut through a plain, there were signs which said “Future Dead End” and “Off-Limits Area” through certain checkpoints; when weaving through the coniferous forest, having completely lost sense of direction and time, finally, the outer wall encircling the city would come into sight.
Going along the exterior of the outer wall, there is only one entrance and exit which had guards with machine guns and military dogs guarding the steel gate to sniff the scents of suspicious characters.
Liev, who had stepped off of the bus, went through the gate after showing is ID and residence license.
His supervisor, Lieutenant-General Viktor, with a drunken-red face hailed to him with a hoarse voice. He was in a military uniform where the buttons were bulging from his muscularity and had an extraordinary amount of medals as well as scars on his forehead that signified that he was a war hero with unyielding strength.
“What is it, comrade Lieutenant General?”
Liev straightened his back, preparing for a scolding—Lieutenant General Viktor furrowed his eyebrows intensely and glowered.
“Come to the Chief’s office at the training center. The Chief wants to speak to you as soon as possible.”
That name was unexpected; Liev was struck with an icy shock that traveled down his spine.
The chief, Slava Korovin, was the genius who manufactured the “Parushni I Model” and the first design director. Like “Laika 44”, his existence was a state secret, and he himself was an extremely key figure. The government was vigilant of the United Kingdom using assassinations, so Korovin was hidden from the world. When it was only absolutely necessary to make an announcement to the public, he was addressed as the “Chief Designer”, and the results were confidential; the United Kingdom feared that “there is a sorcerer in the east”.
If he were called by such a big shot, then it wasn’t for a trivial matter. There was a rumor that before long, the names of the twenty or so cadets would be whittled down even further, but had they started a cutback in advance??
—And Liev had a bad feeling; Lieutenant General Viktor raised his voice.
“Head to the director’s office!”
Lieutenant General Viktor smacked Liev’s shoulder, making him stagger.
Surrounding cadets unanimously called out to Liev.
“What’d you do this time?”
“Finally demoted even from being a spare huh…”
“Liev. Stay healthy.”
“Hold up, hold up! Don’t drop me out of your own accord!”
Even though Liev brushed aside the grieving gazes, he was at a loss for an answer to “Why were you called?”
“… A-anyways, I’ll see you later.”
Liev had been appointed as this year’s cosmonaut cadet of the spring; because of a certain incident in the summer, he was demoted to spare personnel. Unless a miracle occurred, he would no longer be able to be the “first cosmonaut in human history”.
“Still, I hope I could fly someday. The important thing is not to be the first in history. It’s getting to soar into the cosmos.”
And, although it was good that Liev stayed positive and didn’t get discouraged, the situation was intense.
The Training Center, located within the city’s development sector, was a rustic three-story concrete building; you couldn’t feel any sense of space at all from its exterior.
Liev anxiously proceeded through a corridor with a celestial globe on display and found himself before the chief’s room. On each side of the oaken doors stood men[Transportation Agents] with long, black leather coats with National Preservation Committee badges that gleamed, observing Liev’s every movement.
Liev tightened his tie, knocked on the door, and stated his name.
“Cadet Liev Lepus has come!”
The door slowly opened—cigar smoke streamed out.
Liev eyed everyone who was expecting him inside; about two to three steps into the room, one of the men[Transportation Agent] shut the door firmly behind him. He gulped.
Next to Lieutenant General Viktor was a middle-aged man wearing a white coat with a thin physique—Mr. Mozhaysky, the head of biomedical research, was waiting. He had gleaming, black hair that had been combed down and a pointed handlebar mustache. He was a doctor that frequently experimented on flora and fauna and even achieved sending dogs into space.
In the middle of the room, a man past his prime sat in a black leather armchair letting out purple smoke—Korovin. He had grey, swept back hair. He was brimming full of confidence and energy. A firm body that was unexpected for a civil officer and thick skin that covered his hand was a sign that he has endured harsh labor in the mines after he was imprisoned on false charges.
Korovin shot an intense glint, like that of a bear, at Liev as if he were his prey.
“It’s been half a year, my little winged-dragon(Zilant).”
“Yes, comrade Chief.”
An unpleasant drop of sweat ran down the back of Liev’s neck. Although Korovin was the smallest in the room, he exuded a large aura.
“As you are aware, we have been manufacturing products to help fulfill the (Miechita) dream and quickly advance the development of the “Miechita Project”. I am willing to do anything necessary to be successful at human spaceflight, even if it means cutting those hamburger-eating assholes down to size!”
Korovin said imperiously. Just the other day, due to the first Mars probe launch ending in failure, he might have been urgently ordered to succeed by First Secretary Gergiev. Liev thought this to himself and silently listened to the story.
“The plan can be successful, however, there is one major issue. Man’s safety in the zero gravity of space has not been verified. Isn’t that so, Dr. Mozhaysky?”
Dr. Mozhaysky twirled his mustache as he spoke.
“Numerous plants and animals have been apart of launch experiments; dogs that were launched also returned safely, although, there were a few abnormalities observed like nausea and vomiting. Via telemetry, we were able to obtain physical condition changes, however, it’s unreasonable to conclude that humans can be equally treated as the same.”
Korovin stubbed out his cigar and stood straight up.
“Under these circumstances, a decision was made by the central government. Following the launch of a manned spaceship to space, it will be announced globally through national broadcasting.”
Liev couldn’t believe what he was hearing.
Up until now, the republic’s government held the notion of “There is no failure allowed when it comes to space exploration”, and, as a result, only cases of success have been announced. One previously failed mars exploration case was secretly dealt with behind closed doors without appearing at the table.
In other words, it was an unusual exception for disclosure during an experiment.
While Liev was lost in thought, Lieutenant General Viktor spoke.
“If the live broadcast is successful, it will be a blow to the United Kingdom in which they will be powerless to act against.”
Korovin tightly balled and raised his fist.
“We seek a one hundred percent success rate! The should be no imperfection during the time of sojourning in space, during the return, and after the return! But, however, no-one has ever been out into space until now, so how can we verify that it is sufficiently safe?”
There were far too many uncertainties.
How would space impact regions of the human brain and body?
Do humans undergo more functions besides vomiting like a dog from altitude?
Could one’s spirit withstand “seeing the earth”?
Would one behave abnormally when being faced with death adjoined by dread?
If you returned safely, would any serious prognostic symptoms come up?
There were various issues with no answers surging through the exploration site.
Korovin made a sour expression.
“If the crew members behaved strangely on the live broadcast and died, we would be blamed for their deaths from all over the globe. Even I am extremely reluctant.”
Dr. Mozhaysky suddenly addressed Liev with a grand and overwhelming question.
“Mr. Liev. Would you think of using monkeys instead of dogs for these experiments?”
“Eh, Ah… Yes.”
A monkey was definitely closer to a human being than a dog.
On the contrary, though, Dr. Mozhaysky discontentedly twiddled his mustache.
“It’s no good. Monkeys were placed aboard a model boarding cabin, then the switch and sensor which were installed were destroyed and torn out. In comparison to a dog, which is cute and obedient, they were crafty and cunning, full of vim and vigor, fond of unconventional thoughts. There was also the issue of being unable to communicate through language.”
Korovin jested in an exaggerated tone.
“It’d be a different story if the monkeys were influenced by cosmic rays and suddenly evolved into humans! Look, comrades! The first birth of an alien in history!”
It was a dicey joke; everyone forced a misguiding smile and went “Haha…”.
Though, Liev still did not know as to why he had been summoned, even after listening to the conversation.
The atmosphere didn’t feel like a cadet being notified of failing.
No way, is he going to secretly substitute me with a monkey?
The world would launch a false mannequin….
Did Korovin guess Liev’s inner thoughts? He suddenly turned his body towards Liev and looked straight at him.
“Comrade Liev Lepus.”
Liev prepared himself
Korovin took a small pause, then spoke.
“Do you know of bloodsuckers(Nosferatu)?”
Toward the unexpected question, Liev blinked in disbelief.
“… I’m sorry, what now…?”
“… Ah, yes. The fabled extraordinary bloodsuckers… or the bloodsucking races which dwelled in remote regions of the country of Lilith…”
“Yes. I’m speaking of the latter.”
Lilith was a neighboring country west of the republic which had been invaded by an enemy encampment and was scorched; the nation collapsed during the Great War. A bloodsucker(Nosferatu) clan, which lived in the quiet recesses of the mountains, were prohibited from leaving the village by the government’s “Control Policy” due to its citizens which had a deeply ingrained idea that they had a “Cursed Seed”.
It was this reason why most citizens had never seen bloodsuckers appear in photographs either; Liev was the same. He had heard talk that gave an image that the bloodsucking clans were grotesque monsters during his childhood; they gave the impression that they were “fierce monsters that sucked blood night after night”.
Liev cocked his head, racking his brain.
Why did he start to talk about the bloodsuckers(Nosferatu)?
Being asked a question which was unrelated to space caused Liev to grow even more confused.
Korovin coughed, clearing his throat.
“From now on, you are going to keep what I’m about to inform you of confidential.”
“Y-yes sir……!” Liev’s heart hammered.
Lieutenant General Victor and Dr. Mozhaysky completely turned their eyes to Liev.
And, to break the unpleasant silence, Korovin spoke in a low and severe tone.
“Prior to launching humans, higher-ups decided to do an experiment, the “Nosferatu Project”, to send bloodsuckers(Nosferatu) into space.
1. TL: The Orthodox Calendar was once primarily used by the Russians, mainly before the Bolshevik Revolution succeeded. Afterwards, Lenin declared the usage of the Gregorian Calendar, the calendar in which most, if not all, western countries use today.↩
2. TL: The Zilant, in basic, is a symbol of Kazan, a region in eastern Russia, west of the Ural Mountains, and it’s a dragon-like creature. For more info: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zilant↩
3. TL: Actually, we managed to find a map of eastern Europe in this story, and found that “Lilith” Referred to the Baltic region, specifically Estonia and Latvia, maybe even Lithuania.↩