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1960 A.D., Byelgoransk, Soviet Union

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It had been suspected, since the end of the Second World War, that the Soviet troops who invaded Manchuria captured most of the Japanese scientists, data, and test subjects (zombies) involved in Black Dragon’s special project. Recent revelations have confirmed these rumors to be true. The purpose of this new Soviet project was to create a secret army of walking dead to be used in the inevitable Third World War. “Cherry Blossom,” rechristened “Sturgeon,” was conducted near a small town in Eastern Siberia whose only other structure was a large prison for political dissidents. The location ensured not only total secrecy but also a ready supply of test subjects. Based on recent findings, we are able to determine that, for some reason, the experiments went awry, causing an outbreak of several hundred zombies. What few scientists were left managed to escape to the prison. Safe behind its walls, they settled down for what was believed to be a short siege until help arrived. None did. Some historians believe that the town’s remote nature (no roads existed, and supplies had to be airlifted) prevented an immediate response. Others believed that, since the project had been started by Josef Stalin, the KGB was reluctant to inform Pre-mier Nikita Khrushchev of its existence. A third theory holds that the Soviet leadership was aware of the disaster, had ringed the area with troops to prevent a breakout, and was watching and waiting to see the result of the siege. Inside the prison walls, a coalition of scientists, military personnel, and prisoners was surviving quite comfortably. Greenhouses were constructed; wells were dug; power was improvised both by windmills and human dynamos. Radio contact was even maintained on a daily basis. The survivors reported that, given their position, they could hold out until winter, when, hopefully, the undead would freeze solid. Three days before the first autumn frost, a Soviet aircraft dropped a crude thermonuclear device on Byelgoransk. The one-megaton blast obliterated the town, the prison, and the surrounding area.For decades, the disaster was explained by the Soviet government as a routine nuclear test. The truth was not revealed until 1992, when information began leaking to the West. Rumors of the outbreak also surfaced among older Siberians, interviewed for the first time by Russia’s newly free press. Memoirs of senior Soviet officials hinted at the true nature of the devastation. Many acknowledge that the town of Byelgoransk did exist. Others confirm that it was both a political prison and biowarfare center. Some even go so far as to admit some kind of “outbreak,” although none describe exactly what broke out. The most damaging evidence came when Artiom Zenoviev, a Russian mobster and former KGB archivist, released all copies of the government’s official report to an anonymous Western source (an act for which he was paid handsomely). The report contains radio transcripts, aerial photographs (both before and after), and depositions of both ground troops and the bomber’s air crew, along with the signed confessions of those in command of project Sturgeon. Included with this report are 643 pages of laboratory data concerning the physiology and behavioral patterns of undead test subjects. The Russians discount the entire disclosure as a hoax. If this is true, and Zenoviev is nothing more than a brilliantly creative opportunist, then why does his list of those held responsible match official records of top scientists, military commanders, and Politburo members who were executed by the KGB one month to the day after Byelgoransk was incinerated?

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