Necroscope II Wamphyri(Vampyri)

Chapter One
Afternoon of the fourth Monday in January 1977; the Chateau Bronnitsy off the Serpukhov road not far out of Moscow; 2.40 P.M. middle-European time, and a telephone in the temporary Investigation Control Room ringing... ringing... ringing.

The Chateau Bronnitsy stood central on open, peaty ground in the middle of a densely wooded tract now white under drifted snow. A house or mansion of debased heritage and mixed architectural antecedents, several recent wings were of modern brick on old stone foundations, while others were cheap breeze blocks camouflaged in grey and green paint. A once-courtyard in the 'U' of polyglot wings was now roofed over, its roof painted to match the surrounding terrain. Bedded at their bases in massive, steeply gabled end walls, twin minarets raised broken bulbous domes high over the landscape, their boarded windows glooming like hooded eyes. In keeping with the generally run-down aspect of the rest of the place, the upper sections of these towers were derelict, decayed as rotten fangs. From the air, the Chateau would seem a gaunt old ruin. But it was hardly that, even though the towers were not the only things in a state of decay.

Outside the roofed courtyard stood a canopied ten-ton Army truck, the canvas flaps at its rear thrown back and its exhaust puffing acrid blue smoke into the frosty air. A KGB man, conspicuous in his 'uniform' of felt hat and dark grey overcoat, stared in across the truck's lowered tailgate at its contents and shuddered. Hands thrust deep in his pockets, he turned to a second man dressed in the white smock of a technician and grimaced. 'Comrade Krakovitch,' he grunted, 'what the hell are they? And what are they doing here?'

Felix Krakovitch glanced at him, shook his head, said, 'You wouldn't understand if I told you. And if you understood, you wouldn't believe.' Like his ex-boss, Gregor Borowitz, Krakovitch considered all KGB low life-forms. He would keep information and assistance to the barest minimum - within certain limits of prudence and personal safety, of course. The KGB weren't much for forgiving and forgetting.

The blocky Special Policeman shrugged, lit a stubby brown cigarette and drew deeply on its carboard tube. 'Try me anyway,' he said. 'It's cold here but I am warm enough. See, when I go to report to Comrade Andropov - and I am sure I need not remind you of his Politburo status - he will want some answers, which is why I want answers from you. So we will stand out here until - '

'Zombies!' said Krakovitch abruptly. 'Mummies! Men dead for four hundred years. You can tell that from their weapons, and - ' For the first time he heard the insistent ringing of the telephone, turned towards the door in the corrugated iron facade of the covered courtyard.

'Where are you going?' The KGB man came alive, took his hands out of his pockets. 'Do you expect me to tell Yuri Andropov that the - the mayhem - here was done by dead men?' He almost choked on the last two words, coughed long and loud, finally spat on the snow.

'Stand there long enough,' Krakovitch said over his shoulder, 'in those exhaust fumes, smoking that shredded rope, and you might as well climb in the truck with them!' He stepped through the door, let it slam shut behind him.

'Zombies?' The agent wrinkled his nose, looked again at the truckload of cadavers. He couldn't know it but they were Crimean Tartars, butchered en masse in 1579 by Russian reinforcements hastening to a ravaged Moscow. They had died and gone down in blood and mire