In this scifi about time jumps, a commando with a suicidal mission attacks the future, but ends up fighting some very, very similar enemies, and those that pay the terrible price are innocents from a far, far away past.
“Well, my friend, let me explain you how we got here…”
Tolya Red 65.455.234ya sat carefully next to the tank-sized corpse of the male Ankylosaurus, leaning against its bony plates. He sadly watched the placid herd closing slowly on him, ruminating peacefully, just like cows from his native steppe. Actually, he really was on the plain that, one day, will be the Ukraine, and the same sun blinding him now will shine, millions of years later, over the Donbass he was born in. Or will be born, depending on perspective.
“I wasn’t always Tolya Red, you know, but started as Lieutenant Anatol Verchuk, Red Army volunteer, 2 years after the Succession war began. Yeah, I think it was about June when I met those that were going to be my comrades in Commando UFAV: Kaz “The Bear”, Igor Fyedov and Allya Degarova…
- June 17, 2031. Tolya Verchuk. Lugansk, Occupied Ukraine (Greater Russia).
There was a surprising amount of light in the underground bunker; obviously, the Army didn’t save on energy and the whole ceiling seemed to glow, copiously powered from the windmill fields around the base. After all, at least the energy problem had been solved since the 30s, so oil was no longer a problem. Food was quickly becoming one, and, from what they knew because of the war with the Successors, it would get catastrophic in less than 30 years.
He was greeted by a grey-haired, ominous-looking colonel who waved his guard away and silently pointed to a chair. Three other officers sat around the table, looking just as “civilians lost in uniforms” as Tolya did. The colonel waited for the MPs to get out and close the doors, then grabbed a chair for himself and said:
“Hello everybody and welcome to Project UFAV. You already know it, but it’s my duty to remind you: everything we discuss here is top secret and any unauthorized disclosure is punishable by a firing squad!”
He watched them for a few moments, with a cold stare, until he was convinced they were well aware of the seriousness of the situation.
“Good. I’m colonel Green. You are all volunteers and were selected as the best for what we intend to do in order to end this damn war. With a decisive strike. I’ll allow each of you to introduce himself. And herself. Let’s proceed: Miss Degarova!”
Despite the name, Degarova was not a typical Slav, but seemed rather of German ancestry: tiny, feeble and delicate, blue-eyed blonde, with a shy smile, slightly unsecure.
“I’m Allya Degarova, Applied Linguistics lector in Moscow. After the invasion commenced, I started working with the military in a team commissioned to study the Successors’ language and culture. As you know, they are our own descendants, the Russians 50 years from now. This does not necessarily mean the language is the same: think about how much a 1960s farmer would understand from us speaking on the net, or the smartgets’ protocols. From interviewing prisoners, I was able specialize in Future Russian, so I speak it fluently. Without any trace of my not being a native.”
She smiled to the others and, a little more relaxed, continued:
“But I’m also specialized in their culture. It’s no good just speaking somebody’s language if you give yourself away in chi-chats about subjects perceived differently over time. Compared to us, they do have some differences: they are even more cynical and individualist, more ruthless, and food is taboo. We found out from them that in the future food is no longer enough anywhere and they starve to death, so states fight each other for it and people rob and kill one another. So any talk about food is considered cruel and immoral. They also have another known taboo, the Other War, which they hate so much it’s forbidden.”
“Yes, yes, enough, no need to go into details, they’re unnecessary” the colonel interrupted her abruptly. “Mister Kaz, please.”
The huge dark-haired man, with a ponytail specific to his Alaskan tribe, wore a military engineer uniform that seemed to burst off him and was the opposite of Allya, very sure of himself and obviously a free spirit.
“Hello, puppies. I’m an electronics engineer, I used to work for the Space Agency before the invasion and my friends call me, for obvious reasons, The Bear.”
He laughed heartily and continued, as if they were in a pub, enjoying a beer:
“Ever since the first Successor units arrived, we wanted to get our hands on the time machines they jump with, and eventually we got some. We somewhat understood their principles and elucidated three things that explain why, though they kick our butts and conquer our territories, we are not yet utterly defeated. First, one can carry only a five men squad, max. Second, it can only deliver small arms, so they might defeat us with their pulse guns and KR grenades, but have never brought over any tanks or helicopters. And last, but not lastly, it has a fix setting: only 50 years jumps into the past.”
“Meaning”, asked the short brown-haired sly-guy wriggling on his chair, “that those who come are on a way of no return?”
“Yes and no” answered The Bear. “Yes, those who come stay here forever, not a bad choice for them, with the plentiful food here. And probably not, since I and my team think we managed to modify a time device to go the other way. To jump 50 years into the future. We called it TDR- Time Device Reversed, but it’s not tested for real yet, you know, on humans…”
“Good, mister Kaz.”
The colonel turned to the man who asked.
“A pleasure and honor. Lieutenant Fyedov. Igor Fyedov.”
The short man laughed joyfully. Small sized, but not feeble, the man seemed filled with energy and strong will.
“Agent Fyedov before the invasion. FSB. But fear not, as I’m no spy, just an expert in breaking doors, locks, codes, passwords and so on. A solver. Want to break in somewhere? I’m your man. Want to break out of somewhere? Still your man. That’s all, folks, so it’s obvious Mother Russia wants us someplace we are not welcomed.”
He giggled, half amused, half provocative. The grey-haired officer, unimpressed and slightly disgusted, turned to Tolya, inviting him to speak next.
“Good morning. Tolya Verchuk, former virologist researcher at the University of Volgograd. Actually, I still am a virologist researcher, as for the Army I did the same thing, working on a biological weapon. The UFAV: Ultra-Fast Adaptable Virus. We developed a virus that, with the necessary bio-chemical machinery, can be forced to adapt, through accelerated evolution in less than 2 days, to the desired host, with pre-aimed effects.”
The neon light shined on his dark curly hair, so he resembled a magician artist. The effect was enhanced by the deepness of his passionate expressive eyes’ blackness.
“And we managed to build up a completely mobile small-sized laboratory, UFAV-L, that can deliver 4 such operations before its chemicals need to be resupplied. So it’s perfectly functional as a battlefield weapon…”
Silence fell over them. They all had troubled, pensive looks while they pieced together the things they had just heard, and had lost their smiles, even the impish Fyedov and the friendly Bear.
“So, to sum it up”, said the colonel after remaining quiet for a few moments, “project UFAV is over, welcome to Commando UFAV. Our country’s leadership decided things are so bad, that we must use a decisive strike, even if it will affect not just the Successors, but also their enemies from the future and their descendants. The plan is simple: we’re sending you to a city that will fall in no time to the invaders and we clearly won’t be able to recapture, so in 50 years it will still be in their territory. Mister Kaz will operate the modified time device on reverse and take you 50 years into the future. Miss Degarova will make sure you don’t look suspicious if there are bystanders that might try a conversation. Mister Fyedov will provide the necessary means to enter an unoccupied building, where mister Verchuk will use the UFAV to deliver the bio-attack. Then you use the time machine normally and return. Easy and effective!”
“Of course, my dear Ankylosaur, like all military plans, nothing went either simple, or efficient. It got as complicated as it could have possibly been, and difficult, and tragic, and asked for tough decisions. As for effective, for the virus to be effective against the Successors, we had to actually reach their time, right? What a joke… But let’s proceed with the tale, I bet you are dying to find out how it led to your demise.”
- June 17, 1981. Tolya 2.2. Herat, Afghanistan.
Tolya aimed and shot. The bullet scattered a few stone splinters from a rock. He couldn’t see anything clearly in the desert landscape around and the group that had attacked them as soon as they had landed (timed?) seemed not more evolved by 50 years, but more primitive by a century. Clad in sand-like colored overcoats, they were scouting the far away road from between some small hills when Commando UFAV suddenly popped on top of a crest. Startled, the locals had immediately started shooting their rifles at them.
Yet, they didn’t even have automatic firearms, a very lucky thing, considering the boulders around provided little cover. Two had fallen the first instant, mowed down by a burst from The Bear’ light machine gun, but the other three didn’t seem scared and kept them under constant fire, shouting some hoarse phrases.
Tolya whispered in his communicator:
“Don’t waste ammo, shoot fire by fire and only after aiming!”
“Tolya”, answered Fyedov from behind to the mobile tracked laboratory, “what’s this damn thing made of?”
“The toughest alloy of glassteel and titanium we had. We could not afford it breaking during the jump. Why?”
“Do you think it can withhold bullets?”
“Yeah, sure, but…”
Fyedov waited no more details and simply activated the driving pad. The UFAV-L started moving slowly, guided by Igor into half a circle so as to flank the attackers. They noticed the danger and, scared by the apparent fighting vehicle, turned around and began shooting at it.
Silent and unseen, Tolya sneaked the opposite way, towards the hillside. He sled quietly over its crest, gun held tight at the chest so as not to clank, then ran around the hill, bent at the waist, straight into the opening of a ravine. There he dropped to the ground and crawled towards the natives, still focused on Fyedov.
When he got close enough, the soldier held his breath and fired a few shots. Two of the enemies fell screaming, while the third jumped up and made a run for another pile of boulders. He didn’t reach it, as Bear’s and Allya’s guns fired in unison and the man stumbled and fell, face down into the gravel.
Tolya pushed the corpse with his boot, and, sure they are no longer a threat, searched them. Nothing useful or relevant: some water, dried meat, ammo for the rifles, and on one of them a green leaflet with an Islamic star on the cover.
“Tolya”, shouted The Bear, “we’re fucked!”
They gathered around the UFAVL, where, screwing his eyes under the blazing sun, the engineer said:
“The time device… I don’t have it! The smartget tracker says it’s about a click north, though I can’t possibly imagine how the hell it got there! And from what I see, this either is Donbass, but we time-jumped too much till it turned into a desert, or it’s… someplace else.”
Tolya checked the seemingly unscathed UFAVL carefully, threw a wicked glance at Fyedov and turned to Degarova, who was busy browsing the green leaflet:
“Well, boys, these are definitely no Successors. They aren’t Russians, since the leaflet’s language is unknown to me. By no means Future Russian, and their clothing and weaponry have nothing to do with what we know about them. Could they be from a rival state?”
“Or the enemies in the Other War?” asked Igor.
Allya shook her head. She alone knew what the Other War was about, and she wasn’t going to reveal anything.
“Boys and girls, dear puppies,” intervened The Bear, “it doesn’t really matter who these guys are, as long as we don’t find the TDR. Its sensors will show us where and when we are and after that there’s plenty of time for scientific debates. So put on your sun hats and let’s go for a stroll!”
They did. They met nothing alive all the way to the sand dune where the device was stuck, just gravel, sand and dry weeds. When they got there they were already sweaty, thirsty and disoriented. Kaz picked up the laptop sized and shaped machine and, with a preoccupied whistle, gestured quickly on the holographic interface. Then, confused, he said:
“We’re apparently in 1981 Afghanistan. The time machine didn’t work on reverse, but standard, and took us 50 years into the past. It also moved us in space, although I cannot figure out why exactly. I see the load indicator is broken too, as it should have had four green lines for us and it only blinks intermittently on orange, meaning Error. Perhaps if I adjust the T2S parameter more…”
He couldn’t finish the sentence. His skull split into pieces and his body fell limp into the sand. The others jumped behind rocks, deafened by a furious machine gun burst chasing them from the top of a hill. After another wave of bullets and aware that this time they didn’t stand a chance, as they couldn’t even see the enemies and had no cover, Fyedov took off his hat and waved it, yelling:
“We surrender! Stop shooting, we’re Russians, we give up!”
After a few moments of sinister wait, a strangely familiar voice shouted in perfect Russian:
“Drop your weapons if you wanna live!”
They threw their guns near Kaz’s body and stood up, hands above their heads. From the hill came down, cautiously, four silhouettes, covered with modern gear and weaponry, just like theirs. The closer they got, the more shocked and amazed felt both the captors and the prisoners: those coming were… Tolya, Fyedov, Allya and The Bear!
“What the fuck?” mumbled the armed Tolya in amazement, staring at prisoner Tolya. “We are Commando UFAV, so who the hell are you….?!”
“Impossible” replied prisoner Tolya. “We are Commando UFAV!”
“The hell you are,” hissed armed Fyedov, “you’re probably just a Successors’ trick. Clones or holograms! On your knees!”
“Actually”, The Bear’ intervened, looking at the TDR data, “they might be just who they say they are.”
He blandly looked at his own corpse, then turned to his Tolya and explained.
“The way we hoped to trick the time machine was to triple its action: we designed the TDR to do the standard jump in the past, as we couldn’t get rid of it, at the same time with one into the future, to counter it, and an extra future one to take us to the Successors. From the data I see here, our theory didn’t work: it did take 3 jumps, but all in the past. The first one brought the Commando UFAV version 1, so to say, the second one version 2, and the third brought itself and eliminated its other 2 materializations, but not the transported cargo. Us and the gear. For short, if Kaz 1, the original, was myself in 2031, now I’m Kaz 2.1, and the dead one was Kaz 2.2.
He looked at the data, preoccupied, and continued:
“And that’s not all the bad news. First, it’s obvious it will never work otherwise than 50 years into the past, and it also has spatial errors, delivering us to a different place from the departure. Even worse, from having only one green line and 3 “Error” orange ones, I’d say it cannot reconcile the presence of doubled cargo and for a jump we must get back to only one of each. The green line is me, as my error was solved…”
Instantly, Fyedov 2.2. leaped up and slashed Fyedov 2.1.’s throat with a short blade, grabbing his weapon as it fell. Even before reaching the ground, he shot Tolya 2.1 in the head, then rolled and sprayed the frozen amazed Allya 2.1. with a short burst.
The Bear froze, too, unarmed and still, holding the TDR. Fyedov smiled to him and said, calmly:
“No one knows me as well as I do, and I know for sure the first thing the other me would have done was to solve the doubling problem by executing us all. I was just a second faster, and yes, I confess, I’m not a lock picker. My real role was of a combat expert, so at the next doubling kill my alter-ego immediately. He’s a professional murderer.
The short man laughed coldly and turned to Kaz:
“Welcome to Commando.2, comrade!”
He looked at the others, who had stood up, trembling.
“The question is: how the hell are going to finish this mission? And save ourselves?”
The agent pointed the shadow under a larger rock and they all retreated underneath. After a while, Kaz said:
“It’s possible that the two problems are actually one and the same. If we can strike a decisive blow on the Successors, they might not invade our time, and the team won’t be launched at all.”
“But wouldn’t that mean that us, the versions, would just vanish?”
“It might. But the originals will survive.”
“Well, let’s not ponder on that too much”, said Fyedov, “the question is how can we attack them now. Miss Successor Specialist, ideas?”
Allya remained silent for a long while, playing with the green leaflet, then remarked:
“Yes, there could be a way. But it’s immoral.”
“Let’s hear it anyway! I love immoral.”
“Beside the lack of food, there’s another difference between the 2031 Russia and the 2081 one. In our time, the Alaskan Indians and Siberian natives are poorly represented politically, even since the Tsar released them from slavery. But we know from the prisoners that, because of their high survival skills, they took over the country in the 2060s, so future Russia is led by a mongoloid administration.”
“So, if we find a way to eliminate these tribesmen leaders’ ancestors, their government could collapse.”
“Well, maybe, but how could we identify their ancestors, if we don’t know who the leaders are?”
Fyedov stared at Tolya, then gestured discreetly to him. They went behind the UFAV-L and he whispered:
“Your virus is programmable, right? Can it be aimed at a specific human genotype?”
“Yes, it can, but I can’t target certain families, it’s too complicated!”
“I don’t need that. Tolya, sometimes people need to make difficult choices to win a war. Think of those who gave the go on the atomic bomb, and they were already winning the war, while we are losing it. Badly. Tolya, if the European colonists that had reached Alaska hadn’t enslaved the Indians, but exterminated them, there would be no more future redskin government, right?”
“Well, yeah, but even leaving morality aside, how could we convince the colonists to kill the Indians?”
“We don’t have to. They must only seem to have done it, so that we don’t show up as angels of death and start some religion. Tolya, think about it. It is possible to wipe out the native population on that entire continent with a virus apparently brought by the settlers, for which the Indians had no immunity. Can you do that?”
“Technically, yes, but there are two problems: any virus has some survivors, so we can’t actually kill all the Indians, just most of them. So they still might have some descendants in 2081. And second, Kaz is a one of them, he would vanish if we kill his ancestors, and then how could we use the TDR?”
“Well, about The Bear the answer is simple: he might vanish, but if our theory is correct and the Successors don’t invade, we’ll disappear too, so the problem is self-solving. As for the first idea, it’s our best shot, even if not perfect. We owe it to the Motherland to at least try!”
“And, dear Ankylosaur, I must admit I agreed. Just in case, we asked The Bear to teach us how to use the time machine, in case we get separated. Poor fellow, he did, not knowing he trusted two bastards that put the state above his entire race. And we time-jumped up to the 1500s, at every jump having to seek and kill ourselves, in order to keep going. Since the beginning we came up with the rule that each one would shoot himself, so survivors wouldn’t hate each other, and to avoid accidents like erasing both versions of one of us.”
The herd had stopped, alerted. Tolya looked calmly at his gun, leaning against the sauropod’s leg, but, careless, he didn’t reach for it. On the horizon, a few bipedal silhouettes, carnivorous dinosaurs perhaps, checked briefly on the group of armored herbivores and left.
“Yep…As we needed nine jumps to reach 1531, after the fifth, when I was already Tolya 184.108.40.206.2.2.1., we gave up counting the version and started calling us Tolya Red 1731 and Tolya Blue 1731, meaning the year we were in. Red and Blue for the teams. Of course that, having the same mind, each of the doubles felt he was Red, and the other Blue. But since one died, eventually the survivors were always Tolya Red, Allya Red, John Red, Igor Red. It was easier not to feel a clone, but an eternal Tolya, the time-traveler. What do you think about that?”
Of course, the dinosaur thought nothing about it. However, Tolya replied:
“No, we had plenty of food, water and ammo, since they kept getting doubled. Our bodies were renewed every time we jumped, so we didn’t grow old. The only thing constantly getting used up was our mind, as we became more and more detached from reality after all those self-killings. When we arrived in 1531, we were so shell-shocked that I felt no remorse releasing the virus. Or about lying to the nice Kaz, who knew only that we attacked the flora and fauna to starve the settlers. But after the next jump, in 1481, he was still with us, so obviously the strike hadn’t worked. We all knew, as if history has always said that, the fact that Indians had died in epidemics and that whites had brought African slaves instead, what a nonsense!”
He burst into laughter, hitting the Ankylosaur with his palm like a friend after a good joke.
“Then we tried to attack their future partners, so we launched another virus in the Kyrgyz steppe, in 1331. It didn’t work. The next jump we knew there had been a Black Plague, but since we were still here, it meant the Successors were still there, too. Desperate, we decided to strike at our own ancestors, and of the Successors’, too, and we attacked 531 Europe. And yes, from this plague, remembered in the new history as Justinian’s, began unfolding the events that led to your death, pal.”
- June 17, 481. Tolya Red 481. Aleppo, Syria (Byzantine Empire).
Tolya and Kaz finished throwing sand in the pit containing Igor Fyedov’ corpse and stood up, watching the horizon, where a bunch of riders moved along. The warriors were no threat to their automatic guns, but the commando tried to leave no traces through history, so if they got closer, they would have had to kill the men.
Fyedov had died the most unexpected way possible. Although a great sniper, knife-wielder and judoka, he certainly was not great about one thing: being immune to venom. In 531, just before the jump, the surviving Fyedov had gone to some bushes to relieve himself and had jumped up, angry and scared, bitten by a snake that disappeared in the tall grass. On his foot, between the boot and the pants, two red tiny holes: minuscule, but deadly.
Although in the little time they had had before the jump Tolya had used the bio-laboratory to create and inject an antidote, the poison had been faster and, shortly after timing into 481, Igor became delirious, babbling with foam at his mouth and twisting about in pain. Not long after, he went into shock and his heart stopped, and now he laid in a hole, 1600 years away from home…
The riders had gone away without disturbing the time-travelers. The Bear, quiet, went to the TDR and began using its interface, apathetic. Tolya went to Allya, who was crying under a small tree.
“What’s the point?” she whispered. “We’ve done three horrible genocides till now, all for nothing! We’re still around, and so are the Successors! What are we going to do? Travel forever till the beginning of time, immortals? Or die stupidly like Igor? Which one is worse?”
Tolya sat next to the woman and hugged her, protectively.
“Allya, we’ll figure something up. Take it easy, soon the Blues will come looking for us, there’s no time for crying!”
“So what, Tolya, does it even matter anymore? If they kill us or we kill them? There’s no point left other than jumping though time to kill ourselves, forever? Shouldn’t we simply all suicide right here, right now, and end it?”
“No, Allya, we do have a target. We were sent to stop a war and we will, somehow, somewhere, eventually. Yes, it’s clear now that releasing plagues upon the world is futile, some always survive and have descendants evolving into the same history. Individuals don’t matter, I see, only the species, but we will find something …”
Degarova startled and looked at him with big eyes, full of a sudden realization:
“Tolya, that’s it! The species! Not just the species, the entire regnum!”
“The class, you mean. To exterminate all mammals? Wouldn’t that cancel us, too? That’s no victory, just another suicide!”
“No, Tolya, not the mammals! Say, what do you know about the Other War of the Successors?”
“Well…nothing, just that it exists. But our brass kept all knowledge about it Top Secret, so what the hell could I know?”
“I did work with Successor prisoners, remember? They told me clearly what it is, so I know why our leadership keeps the lid on it: because Russia 2081 is losing it! So bad, their only hope is to retreat into their past, over us. If our people knew that, they would form two parties: one would say to wait out till they are defeated over there, the other to show compassion and accept them as refugees. Both ideas would be terrible for the war effort, so it’s all completely censored!”
“Ok, but who’s the enemy? And the reason?”
“Well, Tolya, what do you know about Japan?”
“Just what is taught in middle school: Japan the Natural Park Continent, totally useless as it has no resources and it can’t be settled.
“And why is that? Do you remember?”
“Yeah, sure, it’s the last place on Earth with surviving dinosaurs. Everywhere else they perished under the pressure from mammals, but they survived there due to isolation. And after the 1902 World Convention, all states pledged to keep it undisturbed as a protected area.”
“And all states did that, up until the Successors, who, because of the hunger, started secretly hunting the Japanese dinosaurian herds into extinction. When the Chinese found out, they embargoed rice exports, Moscow declared war, the Asians united a great global alliance under the ecological pretext and not only do they defeat the Successors everywhere, but these have the same image the Nazis did: murderers and exterminators. That’s why the subject is taboo to them.”
“So if there were no dinosaurs in Japan, there would be no Other War, and the Successors wouldn’t invade us.”
Tolya rubbed his chin, pensive, asking himself if he had the skills to create a biological weapon able to wipe out an entire animal regnum. He would have only one shot anyway, since they had used up 3 out of 4 charges of the UFAVL. He was interrupted by Kaz, who showed up running, overexcited:
“Tolya, Tolya!” he yelled pushing the TDR towards the biologist. “You gotta see this!”
Tolya took the device and looked at it, under Allya’s inquisitive look and the agitated Bear’s. He noticed the green lines, three instead of four, but that came as no surprise, since Igor Fyedov was dead in both versions. Then he saw what agitated the engineer: on the Jump screen, the standard 50 years had been replaced by a different number: 62,5.
The Bear grabbed back the TDR and knocked on it.
“Not even the Successors managed to get another distance than 50 years, but apparently our tweaking had a success we didn’t even notice till Igor died: it’s flexible in connection with the cargo! The basis is still 50, but for the initial crew of 4. One of them died in both versions, and his time lag was removed, releasing a quarter of the power! I think…”
“The blues!” screamed Allya, interrupting, and they all ran for cover.
“Starting to catch up, pal?”
Tolya waited for a few moments, drank a sip of water from his canteen and kept on, bitterly:
“Knowing we had to make our way up to the Cretaceous, your last moment of glory before going into decline, I made the math and realized that 65 de million years divided by 87,5 is forever, but a shorter forever than divided by 62,5. Further on, the ever-going fighting of Reds versus Blues was not only time-consuming, but also meant in half the jumps the odds favored the survival of my double, which was unacceptable under my new plan.”
A few long wails from the herd covered his words. Calm, he kept on, louder, as if addressing a noisy crowd:
“So, after the battle, I approached the surviving Allya and The Bear, smiling, and shot them both in the head. I felt no remorse. No more than for Igor Fyedov, you didn’t think he died so quickly from some lousy snake. No, the „antidote” I created finished him off, and the reason was that he was just getting on my nerves with his bossy attitude. I was really attracted to Allya and The Bear was as likable as a fluffy panda, but a mission is a mission, and after I had killed so many hundreds of millions of people in cold blood, did two more even matter?”
Tolya stood up and silently watched the herd. Some herbivores laid on the ground, twitching in convulsions. Others, still standing, kept staggering about like drunkards, letting out long, painful howls. A few bipedal carnivores were running to them, ready to devour the infected carcasses.
“That’s about it, my dear Ankylosaur. You had the honor of being the first victim in a great extinction. Which I …”
Suddenly, Tolya vanished. The giant corpse, now just one of many, began drying up under the sun’s heat, the first step into becoming a fossil of a long extinct species.
First published in Romanian, in „Nautilus” (2015)
Translated by the author