If you believe in monsters, you believe in Bechevinka.
As child refugees growing up in New Beijing on the southern tip of the subarctic Kamchatka Peninsula, we’d heard all the stories. Tales of fire and ice, volcanoes and glaciers, radiation and mutation.
Always beginning with Bechevinka, the remote inlet where in the early 1960s the Soviet admiralty built a nuclear submarine base. A top secret military facility of the highest priority–until it wasn’t. Bechevinka got ghosted, taken off the maps. Half a century ago, severe radiation leaks from the base’s experimental breeder reactors spooked the high command into quarantining the area.
But abandonment doesn’t mean surrender. Life is eager, opportunistic, hungry.
Atomic decay is slow, yet quite satisfying to certain cellular processes looking to gain quick competitive advantages. Cell by cell, mitosis by mitosis, Bechevinka’s failed breeder reactors began to breed surprisingly successful variants. A progeny transforming their radioactive wasteland into a mutant wonderland.
For decades, as the Sino Protectorate’s imperial reach expanded into Kamchatka, local squatters, looters, and adventurers fed stories of the fantastic until the region became fat with reports of behemoth wolves, moose, reindeer, bears, elk, and wildcats. Fierce enough giants, but there were even more intriguing tales of strange hybrids, deviant species, impossible beasts. Monsters.
So much for Bechevinka stories. The Protectorate wanted science.
A field team went in. Nothing came out. A second. Then a third. That’s all I was ever told, though I could see well beyond the Protectorate’s official consternation to their unspoken dread. Why else would they come to me? A fortune teller.
Through war, famine and drought, my mother risked her life many times to get me to a safer place, to a much fuller life. She told me I had a gift. That I was a seer. She said I could not only see the future, but make it a better one.
Right. All I’d ever done was hide behind a crystal ball and lose myself in tea leaves, divining convenient truths for New Beijing’s ever-superstitious elite. Until the officials came asking what I could foretell about Bechevinka. They wanted answers.
So, I gave them what they wanted: permission to exterminate themselves. I told them I foresaw Bechevinka’s promise. Superhumans. Unassailable power for their ruling class. But they must go themselves. Expose themselves to Bechevinka’s transformative elements.
Enough went. Enough high officials perished that I felt I’d fulfilled my mother’s prophecy of a better future.
You see, my mother was beaten to death by Protectorate thugs because she’d helped me escape from child traffickers who paid those same high officials huge kickbacks. She died giving me the gift of freedom. My gift, my clairvoyance, couldn’t save her from simple greed and ruthlessness. Our real kryptonite.
It’s not hard to see that Bechevinka isn’t the only place which breeds monsters.