coldest war

1952

The cold Siberian winds howled through the trees as several men huddled together in a small bunker. They were dressed in long fur coats and hats, all in a fruitless effort to combat the freezing temperatures they found themselves in. The thick lead and concrete of the bunker were also frigid, providing no respite for the weary group.

"Are you ready, General Popov?", asked a thinly mustached man.

"Ready."

"Are you sure it will work this time?"

"Positive. My men and I have been working around the clock to ensure it's functional."

"Well, then don't let me keep you."

"Deploying the system now."

Popov produced a small device from his pocket, a shiny metal fob with a single red button lining its surface. As he pressed it, another device several kilometers away began beeping away quietly. It continued to beep for a minute until finally, a glorious green light flickered to life, illuminating the forest around it.

"Device is online-", one of the present researchers announced, "- detonation will be primed in one minute."

"Excellent."

The men stood in stoic silence, listening to the slight hum of the recently activated device in the distance. Popov wondered if the Americans were somewhere in the middle of the desert testing the same technology they were. He wondered if maybe they wished they were somewhere cold instead of the blistering Nevada heat. He wondered if maybe, just maybe, they were as close to a breakthrough as he and his team were. He shrugged to himself slightly; it didn't matter. His team was going to succeed this time.

"In 5… 4… 3… 2… 1…"

At first, there was nothing. Just as Popov was getting ready to say something, a beautiful explosion rocked the forest. Its massive red pillars of fire expanded through the woods and crested atop in a magnificent mushroom shape. Trees were burned to a crisp and toppled, rocks shattered into billions of little pieces, and the bright light blinded any foolish enough to stare into it. All that stood after the detonation was the snow and bunker. There was no sound. The howling winds had been silenced by the explosion; one could hear a pin drop.

"Damn it." The General broke the silence, crushing the fob with his right hand. Little pieces of plastic and metal fell to the floor from his grasp, producing quiet pings against the cold concrete.

"Popov," the thinly-mustached man spoke up. "I don't think the party will be too pleased with this. You promised Moscow results within three years. It has been five."

"I just need more time."

"No more time. No more excuses."

"But-"

"And no more 'buts'."

Popov sighed, releasing what remained of the fob and letting it fall to the floor. He folded his arms behind his back and looked to the thinly mustached man for further guidance.

"Listen to me, General. I know of a way to make your little project flourish. But it will not be easy."

"What is that?"

"Our agents have recently heard tell of an anomaly that-"

"An anomaly? You're not suggesting I work with the GRU-P, are you?"

"That is exactly what I am suggesting."

"I… I don't know how I would feel about that."

"How you feel doesn't matter, General. What matters is that they provide results, which I understand you need desperately."

"… fine. Tell me about this anomaly."

"Gladly."

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