“He said he saw something, in the heart of the reactor, just before the meltdown,” Valerian said. His eyes seemed to grow cloudy with the weight of remembrance.

It was painful to even hear those words, after what had happened in the Ukraine. “What did he see?” Vasily asked, trying not to let his voice crack.

“Captain Lebedev…he’d gone aboard to try and stop Berenty, to try and leave the rest of us a way off of this rock. We were in radio contact the entire time. There was so much static…so much gunfire…it was hard to understand, hard to make out.”

“Uncle Valerian…what did the captain say he saw?” Vasily pressed.

“I thought I heard Petr Ulyanovich say that he could see into the pod the Elbrus IV had constructed, into the heart of its design. Something even that snake Berenty couldn’t conceive.”


“The captain said he saw a young girl. Not unlike his wife when she had been a young woman. It was the last thing he ever spoke of.”