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Excerpt from Book Six
The Twelfth Saga
The Red Hand
Written by Erik Nelson
Introduction to the Sagas of Saesland:
What are presented here are excerpts from Sagas of a fictional people called the Saes. They are intended to give substance and depth to the people from the island nation of Saesland and enrich the experience of the film. Here you will find some tidbits of history as to the founding of the country and the naming of its people. The Sagas also reveal a bit of the development, character, and strength of Saes warriors and a brief glimpse into Saesland's political make up. Pay close attention, as there are many details of this symbolically rich film that can be better understood with a foundational knowledge about this culture...
Warning: The characters and events you are about to read within these stories, although including actual historical personages and based on some real historical settings and events, are themselves creations of fiction.
"The Trevari elders tell a story about the glowing rocks... and how the Soviets came for them. The fortunetellers told the people to never touch them, but the Soviets did... and took them away. The Elders said that somehow, the glowing rock would cry for help. The Villagers believed it, except for only the forest exists there. This is held now to be true, even in the absence of humans to hear it, because eventually, help came."
-Anlawathi Abbott Phra Acham Kitminnivanno Scrolls
In the summer of 1956, Mikhail Kolchevski, an engineer from the Soviet Union traveled to the Mandalana region of Trevaria on the invitation of Trevari Premier Urdu Seen to develop a mining profile for locating, extracting, and shipping certain geologic and radiological articles to the Soviet Union. While there, Mikhail worked long hours and spent much time with his translator and attache, a native Trevari woman named Rajeep. Over the years, Nikolai fell in love with Rajeep, married her, and had a son, Nikolai. They lived in Trevaria Mandalana for five years, until it became clear to the Soviet military bureau that continuous efforts of the mining operation in Trevaria were not worth leaving a veteran engineer there. On April 15, 1968, Mikhail, Rajeep and the infant Nikolia moved back to the Soviet Union.
Mikhail was not a wealthy man by any measure, although he, Rajeep and Nikolai lived in a small state-provided home near the military bureau plant where Mikhail worked, which was much better than anything he could afford on his salary. Most people at his wage earning level lived in tiny one-room apartments. The Soviet military industrial complex felt that he had done a good service and arranged this one small pleasure, which was barely enough to pacify Rajeep.
At work, Mikhail was assigned to a number of new technology projects in the military bureau. As Nikolai grew, he frequently spent time in the factory with his father. School for young children in such a small town in the Soviet Union in the late 1960's was less than ideal, and there were frequent school interruptions and closures. As Nikolai grew, he gravitated towards his father, and learned to divide his time, spending time among his mother to alleviate her insecurities about living in Russia, and also do the things he loved with his father. The military Officers who frequently attended the factory got to know Nikolai very well, and waved at him as they passed in their big, shiny black sedans. It seemed that most of the Soviet Officers felt some small responsibility in the rearing of the lad, and often would counsel Nikolai on higher class Soviet protocol, manners, and military affairs. They were amazed at how good his memory was, and how fast he would grasp relatively complicated concepts.
One day, near Nikolai's 13th birthday, a high ranking Soviet General was at the bureau laboratory. When he saw the young Nikolai, he asked an associate who the child was. The Lieutenant told him that it was Nikolai Kolchevski, the radiological engineer's son. Mikhail spoke up, apologizing for the attendance of the boy and tried to assure the General that it was not such a common occurrence. The General replied,
"I believe you may be mistaken. Not that I am at issue in any way to the presence of the boy, but simply that of confusion as to his age. Considering that I have heard much of this young man, and I am frankly quite shocked that he is not older. There are few Officers sitting at this very table who can speak of strategic studies in a more intelligent way than that which I have heard this youngster to be capable."
At this Mikhail was very proud of Nikolai, and started giving him small jobs at the plant. Nikolai was very good about balancing his work at the laboratory with taking care of his mother. His mother taught him the ways of the native Trevari, how to play their flute, their language, how to make his own clothes, and how to grow his own food. Nikolai was very fond of the Trevari culture and loved his mother very much. By the time Nikolai was 16 years old, Rajeep was responding to his Soviet identity. She even spoke Russian with him at dinner. Mikhail was ecstatic about the relationship between the three, and was very proud of how Nikolai had developed a strong family bond. This was to be the highest point of their lives together.
As Mikhail continued his work at the laboratory, he got sicker every year. He was 42 years old, and nearly bald. Mikhail had shaved off his beard years ago because it grew in patchy. Nikolai felt that exposure to radiation was the cause of his father's illness, although Mikhail refused to talk about what he did and whether anything he worked on could be responsible.
The day Mikhail took ill enough and was taken to a hospital in a nearby town, the General arrived at the laboratory. The General brought Mikhail and Nikolai together and offered to take Nikolai to Moscow to enter him into the prestigious Soviet Military Academy of the General Staff. Of course, this came as a bittersweet opportunity for both Mikhail and Nikolai. On one hand, there was handed to them an awesome opportunity that only one in a thousand Soviet children received. On the other, this meant that Nikolai would have to leave, and both he and Mikhail wondered what would happen to the family.
When Rajeep heard two days later that Nikolai had told his father that he wanted the position, she wept for two days. Nikolai seemingly could not console her, and this made him angry. He declared to her that she was not thinking of taking care of Mikhail, nor was she thinking of what would happen to her later after Mikhail died. Nikolai accused his mother of being overly selfish and denying the fate of their father, who had dedicated his life to the Soviet Union. Nikolai truly believed his father to be a patriot, and felt compelled to build upon what he had achieved.
Nikolai accepted the position and while in Moscow, his father died. This only made him train harder. Nikolai overcompensated for his feelings that the Soviet military industry actually had killed his father. Training so hard, he outpaced every other student in every area. He was stronger, smarter, and faster in mental and physical challenges. Nikolai's relationship with his mother improved dramatically as she saw him grow into what everyone believed to be a great man and leader. She was particularly happy about talk in her small town that Nikolai could actually become a politically viable person, although he would likely never make it to General Secretary because his mother was a foreigner which frankly she didn't care aboutshe simply liked to hear "Nikolai" and "General Secretary" in the same sentence.
Upon graduation, Nikolai was offered any position he chose, and so he requested one of the most challenging and respected areas, the Spetsnaz. Nikolai was assigned to the Soviet Union's Special Forces organization and was placed in the foreign services deployments section, where he was to learn to run the training section of the Soviet Union's elite Spetsnaz airborne divisions.
Rajeep became lonely and eventually told Nikolai that she didn't want to live alone. Initially, for a lack of a better idea, Nikolai brought Rajeep to Moscow, although it ended up being worse than leaving her in her small southern Russian town because Nikolai was gone more than he was there. At least in her hometown, Rajeep knew people. She found Moscow too big, too busy, and colder than her warmer southern Russian town. Nikolai returned Rajeep to her small town, and visited faithfully every two weeks, unless he was deployed. Even then, he found time to call her and send her many letters. After a number of years, her closest friend died, and she grew very lonely. Finally, she asked Nikolai to take her home to Trevaria. Although this hurt Nikolai, he knew that she would be more comfortable there, even considering she had been gone for so long. He requested leave to travel with Rajeep to Trevaria, to check into the possibility of her moving back there.
When Soviet Command heard the request, they called Nikolai in and said that rather than take leave, they want him to work there. He would be traveling to Trevari Mandalana, but it would be for Soviet military business. If he wanted to take his mother that was up to him. So on June 15, 2004, Nikolai Kolchevsky and his mother landed in Trevaria aboard a Russian IL-76 with a cadre consisting of Nikolai and eight other Soviet soldiers. Their job: train a unit of Trevari soldiers to perform as closely as possible to Spetsnaz soldiers from the Soviet Union. As the Soviets started their work, Rajeep settled back into her country, and within six months was as engrained as she had ever been, and living much better off than most other aging townswomen with the income that Russia supplied.
At work with the Trevari military, Nikolai and his assistants set to creating a program to recruit, train and condition the Trevari soldiers. For three years, Nikolai travelled back and forth between Trevaria and Moscow. On July 3, 2005, as Nikolai walked into the military commander's office just off Red Square, he was met by General Ivan Varisnadsa. In the meeting, General Varisnadsa outlined a new initiative designed to put the programs that had been developed by Nikolai into practice. The crux of the plan was to re-take northern Anlawath. The first mission was a long two week trek into the region to establish the initial complement of Soviet and Trevari forces, and to path find for landing areas. At the close of that mission, several landing sites had been identified and a contingent of six Soviet infantry support troops and a chalk of four Trevari mountain forces soldiers, under the command of Trevari commander Jai Saht established.
On April 8th, 2006, Nikolai received a radio transmission from none other than General Ivan Varisnadsa himself. Ivan's voice had the timbre of a warrior, and did not shake easily, but Nikolai knew immediately that something terribly wrong had occurred when the General's words came out brittle and unsure. It was revealed to Nikolai at this time that his mother had died late the night before alone in her sleep. The autopsy revealed that metastatic breast cancer had been present and untreated for years, causing several malignant tumors to erode at her liver and lungs. The aroma of cigarettes that Nikolai knew his mother by instantly haunted his olfactory sense as he hung up the phone. Nikolai, a man unshaken by some of the harshest Spetsnaz training, attempted to remain calm. His training had told him to remain cold and rational even when the most unforgiving circumstances impeded his mission, and being a good soldier, Nikolai absorbed the shock with little ostensible affect. Deep in his mind, a fracture had occurred that would grow into an unstable rift. And within a few days, Nikolai found himself lighting cigarettes as a way to keep his mother close, as but a ghost of sensory stimulation, and as the incense of a wretched mind. This new tic was perceived as bizarre not only to his comrades, but was completely uncanny to the plain-spoken Trevari.
The Trevari men were very different than the Soviets, and for the first year, it took all of Nikolai's ability to get the Soviets and the Trevari to have a full conversation that didn't end in disaster and a litany of threats. The Trevari were very able bodied men, and had a very good knowledge of the area, including the mountains. However, it was difficult to discipline them in military ways, as they were determined to be "jungle people." They saw little value in regimented, organized programs, and saw less so in continued physical training when there wasn't a defined thing to train for. However, word spread and eventually there were enough people coming into Nikolai's program that he could develop a reasonably effective force of number. Unlike Saeslandic and US Special Forces policy of a small, close-knit groups of much higher trained people, the Soviet doctrine involved larger numbers of people who had varying specialty. So at nearly every point, Nikolai and his men ended up with Trevari soldiers who wouldn't stick to a particular discipline for long, effectively keeping the entire program in a relative state of unbalance. Nikolai took refuge in being able to turn to his two friends who he had requested come with him, Nargan Verliv and Ivan Dmitri, to keep the operation in a state of calm.
On April 21, 2006, as the MIL-24 HIND jinked at tree-top level through the jungle valleys transporting Nikolai, Nargan, Ivan and his small group of five Soviet support troops back to the reconnaissance camp on the Anlawath-Trevaria border, the Deputy Minister of Defense of Saesland was speaking on the phone to the Southern Chinese Regional Commander General, General Tsun Hao.
The request that came out of the mouth of General Hao would set into motion a Saeslandic special operation that would take everyonethe Soviets, Trevari, Saes, and the people of Anlawath, quite by surprise.