"Querida Madre: Soldiers of Death" - CARTEL - Jorge, a young soldier in the Menendez Cartel, writes a letter to his mother following the events of a dimensional breach.
Jan. 12, 1984
I know you have not wanted to hear from me since Manuel and I started working for the cartel. And I have tried to respect that decision. But something has happened out here. Something terrible. And if I do not warn you, I would truly be as bad as you think I am.
It began yesterday morning. I was at the airstrip helping load a cargo plane. Raul Menendez himself was there, so his sicarios set up a checkpoint in case the gringos who murdered his father tried to interfere. I was driving a forklift out of the warehouse when a strange sound rose up all around us, almost like a human scream. The sicarios grabbed their guns, thinking it was a raid. Instead, the area around the checkpoint crackled like lightning and I swear it looked as if the air itself was somehow splitting open.
Mama, this will be hard to believe, but all I can do is tell you what I saw. The men nearest the rip in the air staggered and fell. They looked withered, like corpses left out in the sun. Even so, they all got up and walked towards the rest of us, dropping their weapons as if they did not even know what they held.
Some of the other workers ran to help them. The sicarios attacked them with their hands and teeth. I saw one tear a man's throat out. All the while, that rip in the air stayed open. For all I know it is still there.
Manuel was not present for any of this. He was back at the cartel's main camp. He always told me to show loyalty and courage around Raul, but in that moment I just pressed the gas and tried to drive that forklift as far from the airstrip as it would take me. I saw Raul's car pull away in the other direction.
The pilot of the cargo plane fired up his engines and made the quickest takeoff I have ever seen. Some of those withered, mindless "soldiers of death" clung to the plane as it left the ground. I think one got inside, because I heard it go down almost immediately. That sound stayed in my head, along with the screams of the friends I abandoned as I drove across the airstrip and into the jungle. Aside from Menendez and his driver, I may be the only one who escaped that place alive.
"Querida Madre: Raul's Wrath" - CARTEL - Jorge's letter to his mother continues, describing the cartel's battle against the Soldiers of Death.
I left the forklift at the tree line and ran up a hill that overlooks the airstrip. I could hear gunshots the whole time, growing less frequent. By the time I reached the top, anyone who understood how to shoot a gun was already dead. The soldiers of death now feasted on the corpses of my coworkers. I have always been afraid of Menendez sicarios, even after Manuel joined their ranks. But they were still men who could be reasoned with or paid off. Now they are mindless beasts who never knew mercy to begin with.
I walked ten kilometers back to the main camp, avoiding the roads. When I arrived they were already fortifying the place. I nearly got shot as I walked out of the jungle, but they lowered their guns when I waved and called out. I started to tell them what happened at the airstrip but they said it was happening at all of our camps in the area. Senor Raul ordered us to shoot on sight anyone infected by the same withering condition that turned his bodyguards into mindless cannibals. Then he went to call in a favor from his contacts overseas.
No one could tell me where Manuel was. I slipped away and went to a place in the jungle where he buried some money he never told el Jefe about. And that is where I found him, mama, wandering aimlessly, moaning like an animal. He is no longer your son or my brother. He is one of the soldiers of death now.
I had my orders, but I could not shoot Manuel. What if this was temporary? What if they find a cure? I decided to go back and tell the others I could not find him. I even managed to tether him to a tree so he could not wander away. All I knew was if the cartel saw him like this, they would cut him down without a second thought.
"Querida Madre: Manuel's Fate" - CARTEL - Jorge's letter to his mother comes to a close, revealing the fate of his brother, Manuel.
I knew the reach of the Menendez Cartel extends around the world, but I did not understand just how high Jefe's influence went until his Soviet friends arrived by helicopter - several squads of Russian soldiers that made our sicarios look like boy scouts.
Senor Raul spoke to them briefly, then told us these men were in charge now. I have not seen el Jefe since, but his Russian friends seem to know more about this whole situation than they are willing to admit. If feels less like they are here to help than they are here to cover it all up. I am beginning to doubt that I will survive this after all. And to be honest, I don't much care. Not after today.
You see, I went to check on Manuel after the Russians sent out "kill squads" to eliminate all soldiers of death. By the time I reached Manuel I knew I was being followed. Turned out it was Hector Garcia from Matagalpa. He was Manuel's squad leader - which is probably why Hector let me live. He understood why I tried to spare my brother but leaving Manuel in this condition was simply not an option. So he said he would keep this between us on one condition: "You must spare your brother the continued pain of his existence." And so I did it, mama. I put two bullets in Manuel's head and then I buried him. Hector even helped dig the grave.
I pray you are safe and that Rio Blanco was spared this horror. I am going to stay here and help hunt down the rest of the infected. After that, I expect the Russians will eliminate all witnesses, including myself. And I will deserve it. But what happened to Manuel and the others was not their fault. And I know you will disagree, but it was not God's judgment either. They were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. I only hope time has not run out for everyone.
"The Last Post: Convoy" - CROSSROADS - Farrukh Abdullayev, a young Uzbek soldier in the Soviet 40th Army, writes about an incident involving a Soviet Convoy arriving at his remote outpost.
23 May, 1984
My name is Farrukh Abdullayev. I am 23 years old. I am a soldier in the Soviet 40th Army, stationed at a Forward Operating Base on the Uzbek/Afghan border. And I am writing this to set the record straight regarding the events that happened here. I do not mean the battle that took place last December when the convoy of RSD-10s was attacked by American special forces. I mean the reason no one should ever come here again.
After that battle on December 5, our commanders found alternate routes for missile deployments and ordered our unit to vacate the base. However, I was asked to remain here and maintain the base in case it is reactivated. I think they chose me because I am from a nearby village. My family connections and contacts in the
community would be helpful in preventing other locals from looting the base. I was even promoted to the rank of Efreitor before the pull-out.
Five months passed quietly. Then, a week ago, another missile convoy arrived unannounced. Apparently the top brass decided it was less likely to be ambushed if no one knew it was coming. As I tried to get the mess operational to feed my surprise guests, I heard the strangest sound, like a woman wailing, but from all directions. There was something like a thunderclap, and I thought one of the missile trucks had exploded. By the time I got outside to see what happened, some of the convoy troops had set upon their squad mates like wolves tearing into sheep.
There was not time to organize a counterattack - especially since the "enemy" were our brothers in arms. I grabbed a latrine spade and fought off at least 3 of the crazed soldiers before running off in the direction of my village. I will never forget those men's faces. There was no humanity in their eyes, teeth bared like rabid dogs.
"The Last Post: Cursed" - CROSSROADS - Farrukh continues to write about the incident, revealing that he brought men from his village to assess the situation.
When I reached the village I immediately called for the elders to gather. This was not merely a threat to my family and neighbors. I knew the 40th Army would send more men once they lost contact with their missile convoy. And if they found nothing but Soviet corpses, the blame would fall on every Uzbek within a hundred kilometers. I had no wish to see the elders strung up in the village square. So I led them back to the base to see if we could somehow salvage the situation.
We found a handful of men wandering the base, moaning mindlessly. We watched them from a distance, careful not to let them see us. Through my binoculars, they looked like they had been dead for at least a week, yet still they staggered around, staring blankly, incapable of speech. One of the elders was a respected holy man. He told us that these soldiers were not dead. They were cursed. This meant there was at least a slim hope the curse could be broken and the men restored. And since this was out best chance to avoid Red Army reprisals, it was decided that we should round up the men and secure them until the curse itself could be dealt with.
I led the group that cleared out each of the fortifications. It was the most frightening thing I have ever done. While we tried our best to do no harm, the cursed men did not hesitate to attack us. Our only advantage was that these mindless soldiers did not even attempt to use their weapons. I do not think they even remembered how to use a gun, much less who they were.
Somehow, we managed to round them all up without losing any of the villagers assisting me. I made sure that the elders stayed out of the base while only the young and strong did the actual work. They prayed the entire time, and I think it helped. Now the stricken soldiers are locked inside the communications bunker. We collected their weapons and stored them in the village. It is up to the elders to find a way to break the curse.
"The Last Post: Consequences" - CROSSROADS - Farrukh finished recounting the incident, describing a tragic confrontation with devastating consequences.
The elders spent a week trying different rituals to break the curse on those soldiers, but nothing seemed to work. Yesterday we ran out of time.
Helicopters arrived at daybreak, depositing a Spetsnaz unit in the base. I was still asleep in the village while they established a perimeter and started searching for the missing soldiers. It did not go well.
From what I can piece together, they opened up the communications bunker and immediately lost two men before gunning down the rest of the cursed men. Now they were no longer on a search and rescue mission. Now they wanted revenge.
I got word of the Spetsnaz unit's arrival about the time they needed to attack the village. I had only a few minutes to organize a resistance. I knew that as an enlisted Soviet soldier I would surely be court-martialed, assuming I lived that long. But the time had come to choose between my job and my people. It was not a hard choice.
I distributed the weapons we collected from the base to anyone who could hold a gun and pull the trigger. The women fled with the children, and we awaited the arrival of one of the fiercest combat units in the world. Our only hope was deception. So I asked one of the elders to stand with me in the square, bound in ropes like I had taken him prisoner. I wore my uniform and saluted as the Spetsnaz troops rolled in. They approached cautiously, but as I hoped, they kept their attention on me. They approached cautiously, but as I hoped, they kept their attention on me. And once they were all inside our kill box, I shouted "I have the one responsible!" This was the signal to the others in hiding.
In less than ten seconds it was all over. My people opened fire from all sides. They began to fire back. We lost eight villagers, including the elder who bravely stood beside me as bait. Somehow, I came through it uninjured. The entire Spetsnaz unit perished.
We are now abandoning the village and dispersing - some elsewhere in Uzbekistan, some, like myself, heading into Afghanistan. We burnt the bodies of the Spetsnaz men. I threw my uniform on the pyre. If I am ever captured by my former comrades, I am a dead man. But I do not regret my choices. Something terrible happened here, and we tried at every step to do what was right. In the end, the only option left to us was violence. But we are still alive, and that is all that matters.
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