Okay, I went ahead and translated the second part as well. If you somehow landed here before reading my recount of the first part I suggest you read that first. This is a slow process, even my modern day Russian is hardly adequate to translate and things were different then. The ink is fading in places, the letters sometimes hard to make out and handwritten Cyrillic is even more complicated to decipher. But the struggle is worth it, the more I read from this new guy – some Pavlov without a last name – the more interesting it gets. It’s already amazing that this book survived, more even that it recounts events from as far back as the Finnish war extending past the official end of World War 2 and went trough at least two hands before ending up in that library.
Little explanation is given of how the book ended up in Pavlov’s possession, but I think I have a pretty clear picture of what probably happened. The submarine must have surfaced, the crew arrested and from what I can tell later on in the pages Franz Schubert did in fact do his duty to the bitter end, somehow sinking the boat and allowing the other to escape. Then, they apparently started a hunt for that second craft after one of the captured Germans talked under probably pretty uncomfortable interrogation.
This is mine now. Not one of us can understand the words, but there are still more than fifty pages left in it and only three in mine. We sit on the truck as I write this and no one knows where we’re going, only that it has to do with the Germans somehow.
We still don’t know where the trucks are driving, but it has to be important. We stopped for an hour to meet with a plane and everyone of us got new equipment. I fought this war for many winters and it’s the first time all of us have coats. The first time we have guns that shoot where you aim, and enough ammunition.
There is a man none of us know, but even Yuri shows him respect. He is not used to the cold, he wears two coats and still shivers. But no one laughs.
I have never seen anything like this before, the trucks are driving until it’s so dark the driver can’t see the road. The men fall asleep in the back and no one rustles us awake. We just drive.
Then there are a couple of days without anything, judging by the next few entries they didn’t get much sleep during the time.
We found what they searched for, there was a submarine on the beach. I heard that the Germans came from one as well, but I had no idea there was a second one. A small group entered the boat, but it was empty. They said there was enough fuel and food for several more days and then Yuri said they must have reached their destination. I have never seen a boat like this, the back side opens like ferries. The beach was full of tracks, heavy boxes and tractor tires. They moved something inland and we followed the tracks to a river. They left the tractors behind and Yuri said they must have taken some kind of boat, but no one knows where they got it from. Now we are following the river on both sides looking for where they landed. Yuri took the trucks and half the men to drive to the next town, but we are on foot. The man is leading us now, we still don’t know his name. He is silent, but he seems changed. He no longer shivers, he ditched his second coat. He walks in the front, his steps wide.
We found the tracks today, on the east side of the river. They lead into the forest. We don’t know how they are moving the boxes, but they are. We can not find vehicle tracks, but the boxes are still heavy and they are still moving them. All we can find are footsteps, the man says they are no more than twenty. We think the boxes probably smooth out the tracks.
Yuri is coming back and the men from the West side are crossing the river. But we are not waiting for them, the man says they will catch up. Says we are moving too slow to catch up, that we will need the trucks. He seems as confused as the rest of us, it makes no sense that they can move quicker than us while transporting such heavy weight.
We found a German today, some of him at least. A bear must have gotten him, his wounds were horrible and we found one leg about a dozen meters away. We did not find his other leg. The man had only a pistol, we found it where he must have been attacked and three rounds were missing. We left him there, the man said no German is worth burying.
We found a box. The men are afraid now, no one knows what it is we are following. The box was huge as we expected from the drag marks. There is no way they can drag it without vehicles, but we still only see footsteps. Some of them are shallow, others deep as if they were the ones pulling those boxes but not even all twenty men could pull them. This box was broken apart, we don’t know why. Boris said he caught a glimpse inside and he thinks there was a bear inside, that it was full of long, dark fur and he also saw claw marks on a piece of wood.
Yuri caught up to us now, he brought food. The trucks have to go around a swamp, but it seems the boxes were pulled straight through it. We are going through the swamp as well, it’s slow. The men are tired, but no one complains. Yuri said this mission is the most important any of us have been on and that pushes us forward. He also said the war against Germany is over, that Hitler is dead. We didn’t believe it, but then the man said it’s true and everyone cheered. But then he also said something I didn’t really understand and I don’t think he wanted anyone other than Yuri to hear it. He said that all of it may not matter if we aren’t successful.
We are out of the swamp, the last hour was already dark and we thought we would not make it out today. We can rest until the morning light. After an hour the trucks met up with us again, we made fires and dried our clothes. Someone finally asked the man for his name and he seemed surprised that no one had asked before. He sat down with us and said his name was Asimov. He also asked if anyone had told us what we were doing here and when everyone said no he pulled out a sheet of paper from his pocket to read it to us. He said it was what one of the Germans said that they captured. They are transporting something that will allow the Germans to take over the world in a few years, when everyone feels safe they will come back with something they built that is stronger than any man. Someone asked what exactly he meant and Asimov just said that he doesn’t know, but that they are what’s pulling those boxes.
We are getting closer. During the day it seems we are lagging behind, but at night when our trucks are silent and voices reach far we can hear the noises. They keep traveling at night, that’s how they managed to escape us for so long. What we gain during the day we lose during the night. I talked to Asimov and Yuri, told them that we somehow had to keep moving when the light dies and after listening for a while they nodded, but Asimov said he sees no way to do that. The men are tired right after waking up, he says, we can’t keep our current speed up, let alone increase it. The trucks are breaking down at least once a day and we can not call for reinforcements. Soon we will have to turn around, Yuri said, we barely have enough food to make the way back. Three, four days and we will have no other option.
Something happened tonight. At first the noises were just like yesterday, but closer I think. Then we heard something break, like that last moment before a tree gives up and falls to the ground. Right after we could hear a howl, then two and gunfire followed right after. Then silence returned and the shuffling started again soon after.
We found two Germans this time right next to a broken box. Yuri and Asimov took a look and said the man was ripped apart after shooting the other in the head. Then we searched the bodies and I found a bunch of pills in their pockets. We debated what they are and I believe they have to be the reason why they can keep moving at night. I volunteered to take one right after I write this down, no one else wanted to do it first.
We move. It’s dark. It’s bright. We are just ten, but ten times faster. We rest for a moment, but our bodies don’t need it. It’s as if our minds have to catch up, we need a moment to plan. We will hunt.
I am still not sure what happened, but we caught up to them tonight. It’s morning now and the effect of the pills is slowing down, I am so tired that I can hardly write these lines. Asimov was with us, he is so fast asleep that we first thought he was dead. Yuri caught up to us and woke the rest of us up, but I can not remember much. We found them close to dawn, thirteen men and five women. They were not ready, we managed to capture five and killed the rest as they shot at us. The things inside must have heard the fight, all I know is they broke free and escaped into the woods, too fast even for our sharpened senses.
The captured Germans are talking. Only one of them speaks a bit of Russian, it’s slow and Yuri has to write many answers because he can’t understand spoken Russian well enough. Asimov woke up sometime during the day, but I was asleep then. He gave me one of his medals, told me I earned it and invited me to join the interrogation. I only looked at it right now, but I can never wear it as I don’t deserve that honor. I will give it back to him after this all ends. The one who speaks is a scientist of some sort, his exact words make no sense but it is clear he created those things. He says that we made a grave mistake, that he would have needed another year to make them obedient and that the ones pulling the boxes were barely subdued by drugs in their food. He said they made them from both humans and wolves, that they can run faster, jump higher than any human and that their strength is so powerful that steel cages can not contain them. The only way to keep them in there is absolute darkness. Then Yuri asked where they planned to take them and the man talked about an underground bunker they built during the war, a place where they planned to finish their experiment.
The Germans are all dead. The truck they were in is destroyed, their corpses mutilated beyond recognition. We are loading up the other trucks and heading out, there is nothing we can do anymore. The men have fear in their eyes, I doubt they would follow any other command than to pack up and leave. I pulled Asimov aside, gave him the medal back but he closed my hand around it, told me that if not for me we wouldn’t have caught up. He seems happy with the results, even though these beasts are out there the Germans don’t have them and no one will be able to turn them into soldiers. He says no one should own them, that any attempt to force them into service for anyone can only lead to destruction and that the woods around here are so large they won’t cause problems. I agree.
The woods around us howl. The men are afraid, but Asimov and I know we don’t have anything to fear. Sometimes we can hear them at night, then during the day we come across places where trees have been moved out of our way, then another where we cross a creek on a makeshift bridge that wasn’t there just a day earlier.
The howling stopped last night, right at the edge of the swamps. The men are thankful, they don’t need Asimov’s order to never talk about what they saw. They are happy to forget, happy we didn’t lose anyone and Asimov made sure they will have enough money to stay drunk for months.
We made it home. Asimov and Yuri called everyone together, told them once more they were to never talk about the past weeks and then sent them home, the war is over and their services are no longer needed. I thought that meant me, as well but Asimov pulled me aside, told me he could use someone like me and offered to come with him.
Some people don’t know what’s good for them, we’ve been hearing rumors in several places of „wolf men“ lurking in the woods. It’s always the local woods around those taverns and few people believe the words of a drunken soldier, but Asimov says we can not allow these rumors to spread.
The night is bright. We have their names.