Ruslan (Chapter 2)
It was pitch black as Ruslan leaned from the side of the helicopter at the huge expanse of Colombian jungle below, the silence only broken by the immense thudding of the KA52 - Alligator's rotor blades.
Fucking Russian GPS, he thought, as they circled their given co-ordinates for a third time. A flicker of light below, no more than a pinprick, through the canopy gave Bastardo away.
As they descended a clearing emerged, their landing was swift. Ruslan was struck by the relatively highly developed infrastructure, communication point, crops, a water tower, Gymnasium, and a relatively large, resplendent administrative building. A sizeable crowd of locals had gathered, Ruslan had faced down much larger groups before, and did not really take them under his notice.
Ruslan exited the Helicopter, as often was the case, the crowd hushed in his presence. His eyes were drawn to a boy, with the gaze of a man full of Fibra, standing before him in defiance. Ruslan had caught this gaze before, he knew he was in the right place.
"Bastardo, Comrade" he whispered in the boy's ear.
I am Bastardo, came the barely audible reply through the noise of the KA52 blades.
It was then the crowd turned, an upwelling of emotion could be felt in the air. Such he hadn't felt since the second Chechen Rebellion in the late 1990s, the hairs on the back of his neck stood erect.
I AM BASTARDO, the crowd cried in unison raising their right arm a loft with clenched fist. I AM BASTARDO! they called again, with such force that Ruslan took a step back as their call to arms echoed through the dark valley.
A volley of shots fired into the air from his Kalashnikov managed to disperse the crowd momentarily, apart from the boy-man. Ruslan sighed heavily, as the youngster drew a pistol, safety still engaged, and raised it to the general's head. The boy was shaking, beads of sweat running down his face, but he did not yield, Ruslan paused..
"HUGO - stop!"
The dark silhouette of a man emerged from the shadows; it was Bastardo. He finished his Cigar with one long draw, and slowly approached Ruslan.
"Keep calm, these men are friends." He called, his gruff voice piercing the cool night air.
The two men, completely encircled by locals, greeted each other as brothers and shook hands vigorously.
"I knew one day you'd come here." Bastardo murmured in Ruslan's left ear.
"Debts must be paid Ángel." Ruslan replied his tone as deep as it was sinister.
"Bastardo always pays his debts, my Russian friend, please, come inside for a drink."
The two men sat opposite one another, Bastardo lit a cigar, Ruslan rolled his own cigarette and placed his rifle on the table. The room was lavish by the standards of the others Ruslan could see; there were scantily clad women and servants stood in its four corners. The men toasted each other and the Motherland.
"It's over Bastardo, the Americans have agreed not to pursue you any further. Russia has negotiated a peace treaty with the UN."
"Fantastic! I will reign once again, hahaha, come Ruslan why delay, is Mike According here, when do we leave for La Plata?" Chortled the Argentinian dictator.
"Ángel, no, I fear you have not understood the situation, you are to be sent to Uruguay, and there you must stay. You must gather your most trusted men and leave immediately. For the happiness of all mankind Russia requires that this treaty holds, and will not negotiate with you."
Note from the Editor - I initially planned to write the Ruslan Chepiga piece, but it always felt I was intruding on the fabulous character created by Chris Eadie (@FMEadster). So, I got Eadie on board.
My aim was always to show the same scene laid out in Hugo, but with subtle viewpoint differences. It highlights that we all see the same thing but naturally put bias and prejudice on things. Well done to Chris for taking this on board and executing it with perfection.
We also finally see the great man himself: Ángel Bastardo. Our anti-hero of the story, and our viewpoint in the conclusion to Bastardo At War…