When you hear the word outlaw, you think of someone living in the wild, scrounging together what little they can to survive. Or perhaps they are well-off in their new life in the mountains or woods. Perhaps they seek refuge in a neighboring country, disguised as someone who never existed, except in the minds of whoever the outlaw meets. That is the romanticized image of an outlaw.
The real outlaws of the world live under the noses of the very government which seeks to be rid of them, risking capture, or worse, each day. But few need to fear this. Like the majority of people, their lives are subdued, with very few actions meriting anybody's attention but their own. No government, though they may profess it, can be on watch of all of its citizens. No government will know each and every single person living in their country, though they may try. The nearest they can come is making everybody believe that, and they have nearly succeeded in that task.
So that is how I live, how we live. Right beneath the frozen noses of the Russian leaders. Walking in plain view, and remaining within the great Motherland. My comrades and I, we are all exiles. Exiles in Russian eyes. None of the others in our lives know of our past. Not our real past. Of course, they have heard some feeble tale from the depths of our mind, spun by Alexey. He was always one for tales, and they are believable enough. Before the war, he wished to be a writer. Before the war, we all had our aspirations. But the war changed everything. It crushed the dreams of so many, the face of war sending scholars to the front lines, and little children to the factories. And then, that was it. The war began, then it stopped. Lives were lost, battles were won, guns were fired. Then it was over, ended as simply as one might squish a fly. The victors would be hailed as great leaders, and the losers would have their faces ground into the dirt of history, their names reviled forever.
History only cares for the victors. That much was clear. But even the losers are lucky, in a way. The losing side will always be held in fame, if only in the form of infamy. The winning side would only be remembered for its leaders. The names of the soldiers who fought, who bled, sweated, and died would be cast away as one might dispose of an apple's core, used, and now useless. Even the most valorous were cast aside, the "mighty" leaders taking that fame for their own. These true heroes of the war were proclaimed outcasts, exiled for minor crimes that every soldier did, that they were even congratulated for doing. But they lived on.
Some just wished to reinstate their old lives, though many found this nearly impossible in the recovering Russia. The economy was devastated, and the majority of the men just out of school had no profession, the six years of the war stealing away precious time. The majority of the country only knew how to fight. A small number of the ex-soldiers turned to crime, and many were killed in the resulting wars within Russia itself. Finally, there were those, an even smaller percentage of the population, who sought revenge. Revenge against the government which left the true force which had won the war to rot. Revenge against the officials who stole the glory for themselves. Revenge against all the injustice that was so heavily dolloped upon them.
And now these four plotted in this little shack outside of Novgorod. What their goals were, none of them were sure. They wanted something big. Something worthy of attention. Something that would get those lazy officials out of their easy chairs and make them fear for their lives, their lives which were so readily built upon the backs of others, tricked into taking the fall. Something that would get the world to look up and see the injustice which they had been dealt, to make the so-called victors of the war be reviled as much as the losers.
They had what they needed already. The stealth needed to begin the operation was already there. The government officials were so arrogant to think that the exiles would actually obey them, so they wasted no time informing the police of who to watch out for. And besides, Moscow was so large, one could lose one's self in the crowds without meaning to. The firepower was provided for by their "friends", their supplicants, who operated within the shadows of the minor countries which were beginning to rise out of the ashes of the war. And the publicity would be provided by the media. They wouldn't need to be prompted to jump on this. After all, there had been no news for days and weeks on end. There was just reporting on the plights of poverty, and the endless treaties which were to be signed after the war. The media would jump on this new story like beggars on a 50 Reichspfennig note, and quicker.
All that was left was the planning. There was endless planning. Notes and papers and spent coffee grounds. Kostya demanded it. He was a tactician in the army, ruthless in his planning. He had been diagnosed with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder early on in life, and it had seized him in a unique way, making him a control freak. He wanted to be sure every situation was planned for, from the obvious to the improbable. Vassily had tried many a time to persuade him out of this, as had I, but he persisted. We now had more notes than the CIA had on Vyshinsky.
We probably wouldn't need to use even a tenth of these notes, but the pragmatic part of me was glad to have them. Better safe than sorry. Already the sun looked brighter.
Tomorrow, the ground will shake.