Ivan Rostov is not a threat for ever. A task force of Chosen made it their mission to bring him to justice for what he did.
Eventually, they caught up to him…
This story was written by Darren Pearce, who decided Ivan Rostov was his personal vendetta! It was, as always, brilliant to have Darren on board for Era: The Chosen – he brought his considerable experience, along with his sense of (slightly insane) fun to the mix.
It was a plan that required near-perfect timing and ranked on the suicide-scale out of ten, as an eleven. Ramon Garcia had been in the Lost Land with his constant companion, Okami Nakamura and they had become a near-inseparable reconnaissance team for the Chosen. They had managed to learn so much over the last few months in the wake of Aki Nakamura’s death. The final piece of the puzzle had been handed to him when they’d both seen the Kapavuk in action, the spider-like monstrosity that tore the Chosen asunder as they battled to save a tribe in the Lost Land.
Ivan Rostov, somehow he had joined the enemy and there was a rumour he had been possessed by a creature that no one truly believed in. Yet Ramon had heard Ivan’s voice, distorted by the Ethereal’s own and he had drawn a simple conclusion: the man must die. He had no argument from Okami in this regard, she was still looking for revenge for Aki’s death and even though the creature responsible had been put down recently, the puppet master behind the cunning attacks on the Chosen had not.
Ivan Rostov must face a reckoning. To that end the plan had been formed, they’d turn the tide on what was once Ivan Rostov and they’d gain some closure. As well as depriving the enemy of their most ruthless tactician, someone who knew the Chosen’s methods inside and out. So it was a dark and grim day in the Lost Land when Ramon wandered alone through a dangerous territory, he carried with him a scroll case, for electrical devices were not known to function well in the land beyond. He made certain this was an area where Ivan Rostov prowled with his Anonassi followers, and all he had to do was wait.
He didn’t have to wait for long as Ivan came from the shadows, he paused and looked at Ramon Garcia with a haughty tilt to his jaw. “You’re a Garcia, thank the gods!”
Ramon stepped back a pace and then blinked. “Ivan, Ivan Rostov as I live and breathe, we’d thought you lost. Many had given you up for dead, but my motto is that I never leave a brother or sister behind!”
Ivan tilted his head and clutched his wounded side, it was a deep gash, he was bleeding badly. “I’ve been dodging the enemy for a long time Garcia, but I think my flight has come to an end.”
“Nonsense,” Ramon tried hard to keep up the charade, but he did so. “We can get you back, there’s a portal not too far from here.”
“I’d be a callous bastard and ally if I didn’t bloody well try.” Ramon smiled thinly. “You can heal up and help us with the weapon.”
“Weapon?” Ivan quirked a brow and behind his eyes the Ethereal smiled wickedly.
“Oh yes, it’ll end the Anonassi once and for all. My companion Okami has it, she was waiting for this.” Ramon patted the tube at his belt. “The final piece of the puzzle.”
“May I see it?” Ivan offered his hand and then thought better of it. “Who are you anyway, Garcia?”
“Ramon,” he bowed. “At your service.”
“So where is this Okami now?” Ivan questioned and walked closer to the Garcia so he could lean on him for a moment.
Ramon supported the other man’s weight and chuckled. “She’s outside Harbour City in a small valley, just shy of the Rostov Compound. Our closest portal is a few miles from that, but it’s dependable — one of the original portals that Nicholas mapped all those years ago.”
Ivan’s Ethereal was impatient, this weapon must be observed and dealt with. The two Chosen must be silenced and he must act quickly, no time for an elaborate plan or backup. “I know of a portal, with you here we can make it, as long as we’re careful. With another to watch our back we can slip by the Anonassi patrol that passes here unnoticed.”
Ramon thought about this and then nodded. “You think it’ll get us closer to Okami?”
“I think so, might even drop us right atop her!”
“That would be fortuitous indeed.” Ramon knew the Anonassi had control over the portals and if they opened them into Harbour City as long as the Dome was active, 80% would be caught and focused inside. This is why he’d made plans to do this task before the Dome came on for the night. He was running out of time. “We need to move then, and be quick.”
They did so, quietly and stealthily with only a few close calls between them and the location they sought. They picked their time and slipped past one patrol, then another, and finally made it into the central area of the Anonassi patrol ground. Ivan concentrated and brought the portal to being, seeking out Okami in the land of Aether and he hoped that the Dome would not pull him off course.
It didn’t, the Ethereal blinded by the need to deal with this weapon didn’t think this was odd.
Ramon saw the portal open, he took a deep breath and looked around, he pretended he’d not seen the portal until Ivan pointed it out across the way.
“Look Ramon, there!” The once-Rostov said and began to slink toward it.
Ramon followed his companion and nodded. “Great!” He ran toward it low to the ground, he stopped as a Hellhound passed nearby and then waited behind Ivan.
“We go on your signal.” Ivan said, he didn’t want to appear to be too eager to get into Aether and throttle the Nakamura woman.
Ramon moved suddenly and tapped Ivan on the shoulder, he didn’t call out, he just ran for the portal and leapt through it. The once-Rostov growled and followed suit, appearing on the other side in a flicker of a heat haze.
Okami Nakamura stood with her back to the pair of them, she seemed to be holding a tube with a series of wires and a display connected to it. A counter appeared on the display and Ivan reasoned it must be some kind of bomb, a bomb designed to kill them all. He wasted no time and drew his pistol, he fired three times at the back of the woman’s head. Nothing happened.
Ramon levelled his Mag 60 at Ivan and smiled thinly. “Ivan Rostov, the joke’s on you.” He fired the moment he said the man’s name, split his skull almost in two at such close range and sent fragments of bone flying in all directions. A fragment pinged off a nearby device, once which used an old style of technology to project Okami’s image onto the ground before them whilst she stood safely nearby holding the mock device in her hands.
The Ethereal screamed as it left the host body, but due to its very composition it burned up in Aether’s atmosphere almost instantly. The threat of Ivan Rostov had come to an end, and with it, one of the enemies most powerful tools. He was not the only weapon in their arsenal, but he was an important one and the Chosen would be more vigilant from now on.
“It is done.” Oakmi stepped out from beside the rock and looked at the smoking device, all lenses, mirrors and rudimentary circuitry.
Ramon nodded. “Yes.”
“Let us go home, perhaps I could make you some tea?”
“I’d like that.”
They left the body of Ivan Rostov where it had fallen, they’d inform the clans and they could recover it for a proper burial. One accorded to the man prior to his enslavement by the enemy, the hero he once was. As the sun began to set over Harbour City, the Crystal Dome hummed into life and a new night of terror began for those inside. The war, the war was far from over.