As a boy, Peter had always known the smells of his home would smoke and cabbage pipe tobacco, the occasional perfume. His mother wore on nights at party functions and gunpowder, the scent of power, the scent of authority, his father never missed when they hunted near the dacha. He'd been given as a reward for obedience drive and the ability to find crime where there was.
Despite their family's position in the party, the Stewpot was too Russian to be forgotten as a source of food and family and the grim national pastime that lurked outside every home, the Stewpot was a subtle wink toward a true Russians constant companion. Peter hunted with his father now, but not in the Birch forest.
So of his childhood, they were more than 2000 kilometers away in a Soviet union that creaked like a storm rack tree lunging forward to a death that seemed inevitable and unknown again. Always at the door or peeping fretfully through the memory of family tales from before the October revolution, when the white army had held bitterly to a life that was rotting from the head down now, Peter and his Papa stock to the forest in Poland, a vassal state that was no longer cowed by the tanks and bribes and promises of a global Soviet, who is the enemy.
After all Peter thought his teenage to mind sharp and curious. He knew his Papa was not a good man. When the party told his father to go to Poland and correct a local trade board for corruption and democratic thoughts, there had been no question. Only obedience. Then the family spent two days on a wheezing train as they moved in extra blee west to the place where names changed, the food was almost the same and hatred of his father.
And by extension, Peter ran deeper than the swift spring floods. Peter had watched impassively as the Polish family of means was moved from their house Peter's house. Now by force, their daughter is staring at Peter with hollow accusatory eyes as a checkup agent cuffed her across the face for good measure.
You see, there must be obedience. There must be fear. There must always be the specter of death after all they were rushing. And now here they were hunting as usual wiling away in afternoon. For pleasure, not survival. They're very movements, almost lazy. They were like, oh, party members, well fed. They could afford leisure.
Papa. Peter whispered using a word from their odd little family language. His father knew he meant hair. The Grisha Cinco family, long servants of the elite had a language of code words, both spoken and written accumulated over decades. When you lived and died by secrets, as all agents of the state understood a childlike family code could mean the difference between survival or torture.
The Christian go, family took their secrets seriously to the point that they had a private family language known only to them. It was no surprise that the Christian CO's made excellent spies, Papa looked around then cocked his head in the pose of a natural hunter. He saw no hair. He did, however, hear something and lifted his head to sniff the wind with a feral echo of his wild youth.
Papa gave Peter a nod of that. Uh, bouncer indeed, you have young years, son Peter's father never heard the bullet that killed him until. It was no bullet and it was fired by no man, the sizzling round of energy splattered, Alexi Petrovich, Christian CO's skull. Like it was an overripe fruit hollowing, his brain pan out in a flash of heat and light that scalded Peter's eyes, leaving him blinded, howling, and terrified.
The wet thump of Papa's body was followed by nothing. When his eyes cleared, uh, being not a man stood staring down at him. Two meters of arrogant indifference, a rifle on one hip. The uniform was black with no name or rank visit. Looking up paralyzed with fear. Peter saw no ordinary person. The face was too narrow and predatory.