Get a special early look at the first two chapters of the novel based on Battlefield 3. Warning: Contains strong language.
This is an excerpt from BATTLEFIELD 3: The Russian by Andy McNab and Peter Grimsdale. Copyright © 2011 by Electronic Arts Inc. Reprinted by permission of Grand Central Publishing. All rights reserved.
Dima opened his eyes, a second of blankness before he remembered where he was and why. The call could come at any time, they'd said. It was just after three. Bulganov's voice was thick with fatigue. He told him when and where. He started to give directions, but Dima shut him up.
'I know where it is.'
'Just don't fuck up, okay?'
'I don't fuck up. That's why you hired me.' Dima hung up.
Four- thirty, a stupid time to choose to swap a girl for a suitcase of money, but he wasn't making the decisions.
'Remember: you're just the courier,' Bulganov had said, trying to swallow his pain.
Bulganov had wanted to use counterfeit, but Dima had insisted--no tricks or else no deal. Dima called Kroll, told him twenty minutes. He took a cold shower, forcing himself to stay under until the last traces of sleep were gone. He dried, dressed, gunned a Red Bull. Breakfast could wait. He gave the case one last check. The money looked good: US dollars, five million, shrink-wrapped. The price of oligarchs' daughters was going up. Bulganov had wanted to use counterfeit, but Dima had insisted--no tricks or else no deal.
Barely a dent in the man's fortune--not that it stopped him trying to beat them down. The rich could be very mean, he'd learned--especially the old ones, the former Soviets. But the Chechens had set their price. And when a fingernail arrived in the post, Bulganov caved.
Dima put on his quilted coat. No body armour: he couldn't see the point. It weighed you down and if they were going to kill you they'd aim for the head. No firearm either, and no blades. Trust was everything in these exchanges.
He handed in the key cards at reception. He'd paid last night. The woman on the desk didn't smile, glanced at the bag.
'Come back soon,' she said, without conviction.
The street, still dark, was empty except for clumps of old snow. Moscow under new snow he liked: it rounded off the sharp edges, covered up the grime and the litter, and sometimes the drunks. But it was April, and the frozen remnants clung to the pavements in long, winding fortifications, like the ones they'd been made to dig at military school. The tall, grey buildings disappeared into low cloud. Maybe winter wasn't over just yet.
A battered BMW swung into view, weak lights bouncing off the glaze of ice. The tyres slid a little as it shuddered to a halt in front of him. It looked like it had been rebuilt from several unwilling donors, a Frankenstein's monster of a car.
Kroll grinned up at him. 'Thought it would remind you of your lost youth.'
Dima didn't need any reminders: any idle moment and the old times crowded in--which was why he did his best never to be idle. Kroll got out, popped the trunk lid and hefted in the bag, while Dima took his place at the wheel. The interior smelled of sauerkraut and smoke--Troikas. You wouldn't catch Kroll with a Marlboro. He preferred those extra carcinogens that came in Russian tobacco. Dima glanced at the ripped back seat: a bed roll, some fast food boxes and an AK: all the essentials of life.
Kroll slid in, saw the expression on Dima's face.
'You living in this crate?'
Kroll shrugged. 'She threw me out.'
'Again? I thought you'd got the message by now.'
'My ancestors lived in yurts: see, we're going up in the world.'
Dima said it was Kroll's nomadic Mongol blood that got in the way of his domestic life, but they both knew that it was something else, a legacy of having lived too much, seen too much, killed too much. Spetsnaz had trained them to be ready for anything--except normality.
He nodded at the back seat. 'Katya has standards, you know. One look in here and she might decide to stick with her captors.' He shoved the shift into drive and they took off, fishtailing in the slush.
Katya Bulganova had been snatched in broad daylight from her metallic lemon Maserati, a vehicle that might as well have had 'My Daddy's rich! Come and get me!' embossed on the hood. The bodyguard got one in the temple before he even saw what was happening. One onlooker said it had been a teenage girl brandishing an AK. Another described two men in black. So much for witnesses. Dima had little sympathy for Katya or her father. But Bulganov didn't want sympathy and he didn't just want his daughter back. He wanted his daughter back and revenge: 'A message to the underworld: no one fucks with me. And who better to deliver it than Dima Mayakovsky?'
Bulganov had been at Spetsnaz too, one of the generation that bided its time then cut loose in the free-for-all Yeltsin years, to grab their share. Dima despised them, but not as much as those who came after, the grey, lifeless micromanagers. Kushchen, his last boss, told him,'You played the wrong game Dima: you should have shown some restraint.'
Enough people higher up thought he had done too well, too soon… Dima didn't do restraint. On his first posting, in Paris as a student spy in '81, he discovered that his own station chief was preparing to defect to Britain. Dima took the initiative and the man was found floating in the Seine. The police settled for suicide. But initiative wasn't always appreciated. Enough people higher up thought he had done too well, too soon, which was how he ended up in Iran training Revolutionary Guards. In Tabriz, near the Azeri border, two recruits on his watch raped the daughter of a Kazakh migrant worker. They were only seventeen years old, but the victim was four years younger. Dima got the whole troop out of their bunks to witness proceedings, then made them stand close enough to see the look on the boys' faces. Two shots each in the temple. The troop excelled in discipline after that. Then in Afghanistan, during the dying months of the occupation, he witnessed a Russian regular soldier open up on a car full of French nurses. No reason--out of his head on local junk. Dima put a bullet in the corporal's neck while he was still firing, tracer rounds arcing into the sky as he fell.
Perhaps if he had shown more restraint he would at least still be at Spetsnaz, in a civilised posting where he could use his languages, a reward for the years of dedication and ruthlessness, not to mention the chance to reclaim a bit of humanity. But Solomon's defection in '94 had done for Dima's reputation. Someone had to take the rap. Could he have seen it coming? At the time, no. With hindsight, maybe. The only consolation--he'd packed in the drinking and that had been the toughest mission.
The streets at this hour were almost empty, just as they used to be all day long in his childhood. Under the throngs of imported SUVs, Moscow's vast avenues lost their grandeur. There was a queue to get on to the Krymsky Bridge, where a beat-up Lada had been rammed by a Buick. Doors open, two men shouting, one wielding a crowbar. No police in sight. Two drunks staggered along the pavement, joined at the head like Siamese twins, plumes of vapour rising from them into the frozen air. When they reached the BMW they paused and stared. They were men from the past, probably no more than fifty years old, but with faces so ravaged by drink and bad diet they looked much older. Soviet faces. Dima felt an unwelcome sense of kinship, not that they would have known.
One spoke, inaudible through the glass, but Dima lip-read: 'Immigrants'. Kroll tapped him on the shoulder--the lights had changed.
'Where are we going, anyway?'
He told him. Kroll snorted.
'Nice. Residents sold the window glass so the authorities put up plywood instead.'
'Capitalism. Everyone's an entrepreneur.'
Kroll was off. 'Fact: There are more billionaires in Moscow than any other city in the world. Twenty years ago there weren't even any millionaires.'
'Yeah, but probably not round here.'
They passed rows of identical blocks of flats, monuments to the workers' paradise, now filled with the drugged and the dying.
'Tombstones in a giants' graveyard,' said Kroll.
'Easy on the poetry: it's a bit early for me.'
They parked between an inverted Volga, stranded on its roof like an upturned beetle, and a Merc, the passenger compartment burned out. The BMW blended right in.
They got out. Kroll lifted the trunk lid and reached in. Dima moved him aside.
'Careful with your back.'
He lifted the bag out of the trunk and set it on its wheels.
Dima handed Kroll his phone. Kroll tapped his shoulder where his Baghira was holstered.
'Sure you want to go in naked?'
'They're likely to scan me. Besides, it will impress them.'
'Oh, you want to look like a tough guy. Why didn't you say?'
They exchanged a look, the look that always said it could be their last. 'Twenty minutes,' said Dima. 'Any longer--come and get me.'
The lift was dead, its doors half-closed on a crushed shopping trolley. Dima collapsed the grab handle of the case and lifted it. The stairs stank of piss. Despite the hour, the building was alive with the thump of rap and domestic disputes. If it came to an exchange of fire, no one would hear or even care. A boy of no more than ten came past, with the low nasal bridge and pinched cheeks that Dima recognised as foetal alcohol syndrome. The grip of a pistol stuck out of his hoodie pocket, a dragon tattoo on his gloveless white hand. The kid paused, glanced at the bag, then Dima, considering. Behold the flower of post-Soviet youth, Dima thought. He wondered if he had been right not to bring a gun. The boy, expressionless, moved on.
The metal apartment door made a dull clang as he thumped it. Nothing. He thumped again. Eventually it opened half a metre to reveal the muzzles of two pistols, the local equivalent of a welcome mat. He stood back so they could see the case. Both of the faces behind were shrouded in ski masks. The men stepped back to let him enter. The apartment was dark; candles on a table gave out a ghostly glow. The smell of fried food and sweat hung in the hot dry air.
A mask was a sign of weakness--another useful pointer. One man pressed a pistol into Dima's forehead while the second, shorter one patted him down, squeezing his genitals as he went. Dima had to force himself not to kick out. He sent a stern command to his foot, ordering it to stay on the floor while he collected all the data he could. The shorter one probably late twenties, left-handed, stiff movement in his left leg, which bent awkwardly, probably from a wound to the left lower abdomen or hip. Useful. The other, straight and tall, almost two metres, looked younger and fitter, but being a terrorist had lived on a poor diet and had neglected to exercise. The sight of their faces would have helped, but the job had taught him to assess character from movement and body language. A mask was a sign of weakness--another useful pointer. A slight tremble from the gun trained on him: inexperience.
The voice that rang out from further in the gloom, followed by a low cancerous chuckle, was instantly recognisable. The room became clearer: empty except for the low table strewn with candles, a takeaway pizza box, three empty Baltica cans, a pair of aged APS Stechkin machine pistols and a couple of spare mags. Behind the table squatted a huge red plastic sofa that looked like it had come from a cheap brothel.
'You've aged, Dima.'
The sofa creaked as Vatsanyev hauled himself to his feet with the aid of a stick. He was barely recognisable. His hair was grey and ragged and the left half of his face had sustained severe burns, the ear almost gone under shiny, livid scar tissue that twisted round to one end of his mouth. He let the stick drop and opened his arms--the knobbly fingers splayed. Dima stepped forward, let himself be embraced. Vatsanyev kissed him on both cheeks then stepped back.
'Let me get a look at you.' He grinned, half his top teeth missing.
'At least try to act like a terrorist. You sound like my great aunt.'
'I can see some grey on you.'
'At least I have all my teeth and both my ears.'
Vatsanyev gave another chuckle and shook his head, his black eyes almost disappearing into the folds of flesh. Dima had seen men in all of the stages between life and death. Vatsanyev looked closer to the latter. He let out a long sigh and for a moment they were comrades again, Soviets united, brothers in arms for the Great Cause.
'History's not been kind to us, Dima. A toast to the old days?' He gave a theatrical wave at the half-empty bottle on the table.
'I've given up.'
Dima looked to his right and saw two corpses, both women, half covered with a rug--overdone, doll-like make-up on the one who still had a face.
'Who are they?'
'The previous tenants. Behind on their rent.'
They were back in the present. Vatsanyev stepped back to reveal the huddled bundle on the sofa.
'Allow me to introduce our guest.'
Katya was barely recognisable from the glamour shots Dima had been shown. Her stained hoodie almost obscured her face, which was a blotched mess, eyelids swollen from tears and exhaustion. The ragged bandage on her left forefinger was grey, topped with a dull brownish-red stain. Her blank eyes met Dima's and he felt an unfamiliar stab of pity.
'Can she stand? I'm not carrying her down those flights.'
Vatsanyev glanced at her. 'She walks and talks, and is now maybe a little wiser to how the other half lives.'
Katya's eyes focused on Dima, then her gaze moved slowly to the doorway to her left, and then back to him. He made a mental note to thank her later--if there was a later. He gestured at the case. He wanted them to start counting soon.
'You're getting greedy in your old age, Vatsanyev. Or is this your pension?'
Vatsanyev gazed at the money and nodded thoughtfully. 'You and me Dima, we don't do retirement. Why else are you here in this godforsaken shithole at this ungodly hour?'
They looked at each other and for a second the years that separated them vanished. Vatsanyev reached forward, clasped him by the shoulder.
'Dima, Dima! You need to move with the times. The world is changing. Forget the past, forget the present even. What's coming will change everything. Trust me.'
He let out a barking cough, exposing gums where teeth had once been. 'We're in what the Americans call the End Times--but not in the way they think. God won't be there, that's for sure. Three letters: P-L-R. Time to polish up your Farsi, my friend.'
They had served together in Iran during the war with Iraq, comrades and rivals. Dima had to arrange Vatsanyev's release from the Iraqis, but not before they had stamped on his back and pulled out all of his fingernails. They had even stayed in touch after the break-up of the Soviet Empire, but Vatsanyev had gone underground after Grozny fell to the Russians. Now they faced each other in a dead hooker's flat, mercenary and terrorist--two professions that were on the up.
Dima swung round suddenly. The two ski masks jumped. He bent down and unzipped the case, and with the flourish of a black marketeer presenting his booty flipped back the lid to reveal the neatly packed dollars. Bulganov wanted it all back but that might have to be Kroll's task. The ski masks stared in wonder. Good, more signs of innocence. Vatsanyev didn't even bother to look.
'Aren't you going to count them?'
He looked perturbed.'You think I don't trust my old comrade?'
'It's Bulganov's money, not mine. If I were you I'd check every one--front and back.'
Vatsanyev smiled at the joke then nodded at his boys, who knelt down and eagerly started to pull at the tightly-packed bundles. The atmosphere in the room relaxed a little. Dima noticed that a dark stain had spread from under the rug that had been thrown over the dead hookers.
The shorter Chechen holstered his pistol but the other left his on the floor by his left knee. Less than two metres away. Dima wished he knew who or what was in the next room, but it was now or never.
'I need a piss. Where's the toilet?'
Still with the gun under him, Dima aimed another shot into the groin of the man beneath him and felt the explosion as he went slack. Dima leapt forward, appearing to trip over the table which tipped it on its side. He slammed down hard on top of the younger thug who folded in on himself like a book. As he landed, Dima lunged for the pistol on the floor with both hands, found the trigger with one, racked the top slide with the other and without raising it fired first at the taller one, hitting him in the thigh. The man sprang backwards, offering Dima a better target. The bridge of his nose exploded with petals of bloody flesh. Still with the gun under him, Dima aimed another shot into the groin of the man beneath him and felt the explosion as he went slack. Without pausing, Dima rolled himself over the open case of money and across to the corner diagonally opposite the open door. Looking back, he saw the sofa was empty. Vatsanyev was bent over the upturned table trying to reach one of the guns with his stick. Dima lost a whole second as a remnant of embedded kinship stopped him taking a shot. He recovered enough to put a bullet into Vatsanyev's shoulder.
Katya was nowhere to be seen. She had to have gone into the other room. Had she taken shelter there or been pulled in by whoever was in there? He didn't have to wait long. She appeared in the doorway, head pulled back, her face contorted in a fresh convulsion of fear. Just behind her, another face half-hidden, even younger. No question who this was: the same black eyes as her father's, only wrapped in an exquisite porcelain doll's face. Dima did a quick calculation: Vatsanyev's daughter Nisha, his only child by his last wife would be--sixteen. Nisha had had the choice, could have gone to America with her mother and could soon have been heading for Harvard. Instead she was here, sucked into her father's desperate struggle. He glanced at Vatsanyev on his side, eyes open, watching his daughter on the other side of the money he would never get to spend.
Dima's eyes locked on to Nisha's. She kept her body behind Katya, gripping her captive's hair tightly with one hand while the other held a breadknife against her throat. Half a second passed. Dima had been here before. There had been younger targets than Nisha. An eight-year-old boy in northern Afghanistan wielding an AK like it was joined to him, and a girl, a trained sniper sent to assassinate her own informant father. On a rooftop where he had cornered her, the building beneath them burning, he made a last attempt to persuade her to switch sides. But she made it clear that the idea disgusted her and insisted on going down fighting.
Another half second. There were no choices here, no second thoughts, no opportunities for negotiation. Her father had been like a brother once; Dima had even once held Nisha as a baby. The best she could hope for was that his aim wasn't what it was, that his bullet would hit Katya and then they'd all be fugitives.
Dima raised his arm. It seemed to take a huge effort, as if some subterranean force field was exerting itself. Nisha was slightly to Katya's left, face half-shadowed by her captive. Dima fired wide, predicting that Nisha would dart behind her human shield, then he fired again to Katya's right, catching Nisha on the rebound. Katya crumpled forward as Nisha dropped her and fell back into the darkness. He sent a further burst into the other room, then stepping across the debris and bodies he lifted Katya into his arms.
In the sudden silence he could hear the rapid breathing of one of the Chechens. Dima turned, about to put a bullet in him, when he heard something shuffling outside. He looked up just as the apartment front door exploded. Three AK muzzles and, not far behind, three figures: faces pointlessly blackened, their helmets and body armour fresh and untarnished by action. An internal security SWAT team--famous for their ineptitude. Trying to take in the scene that confronted them, they froze. For a moment, nobody spoke.
'He's down there,' Dima said, gesturing at Vatsanyev but keeping his eyes on the men. He could hear Vatsanyev struggling to lift himself, and his wheezing whisper,'Dima, Dima, don't let them take me.'
One of the SWATs stepped forward, lowering his weapon. 'Dima Mayakovsky, you're to come with us.'
'On whose authority?'
'Am I under arrest?'
'No, you have an appointment.'
'Can we make it later? I'm a bit busy.'
Kroll appeared in the doorway, behind them.
'Sorry I wasn't able to warn you. Shall I take the goods?'
At the word 'goods', one of the SWATs fixed his gaze on the money. As the SWAT nudged his pal, who'd clocked Katya as part of the package, Dima swung his own weapon up into his face. The second one, weighing up whether to ditch his nice steady job for a case full of dollars, left Dima plenty of time to ram the gun into his balls.
Dima looked round at Vatsanyev and gave him a single nod. Looking back at the men, he said, 'Just a moment'. Then he looked once more at his old comrade, and put a bullet in his head.
@darthkillerduck I have no doubt that he has a large amount of knowledge of special ops and the like, but his points about the Iran-Iraq war are inaccurate.
@roganth Romantic tension? Happy ending? Far too violent? Are you sure you are not confusing Battlefield with Twilight?
My advice to the writers: I think they need to lighten the tone of this story - it is far too violent, the swearing is dreadfully awful, where is the romantic tension? and a happy ending would not hurt either.
@MEDzZ3RO Srry, did you put "Warning: Contains Strong Language" at the beginning of the posts you used profanity in?? ass...
blah, blah, blah.it's only a title, period.while i understand some people's need to expand their knowledge of the 'universe' of a game (which in this case there isn't much-sorry but it's true-everyone goes for the multiplayer & it's unlocks not the single player campaign) i think novels, comic books, and the sort, are all mostly methods to cash in on it on someone eagerly waiting to play it. otherwise this wouldn't be gamespot, it would be bookspot people!
@Vaultboy-101 at your ex spetsnaz thing. andy mcnab knows a lot about military stuff as a whole and as ex-SAS, he probably knows a lot about other spec ops as well.
Nice not that I care for books much, it has to be said. I've been censored and moderated for swearing on here in the past on the basis it's offensive to others, how is this extract any less offensive? Bit hypocritical Gamespot.... ridiculous.
this writing is way too serious for its own good...if this book had sunglasses, it would wear them at night.
they made a story , because sooooo many people where complaining about previous BF games not have any , i personally could not care less... but there are many who love the story
Very smart move on EA/Dice's part. Competing with COD's elaborate action-filled story by getting one of Britain's most famous modern warfare fiction writers to create the storyline. Call of Duty's story will most likely grab the audience into the story just because they have had 3 games to develop the storyline, whereas Battlefield 3 only has one game to develop the story and wrap it all up, possibly rushing some aspects. I'm really looking forward to this campaign!
A book, really? I don't think Battlefield has anything worth reading about, I just wanna rush in and steal some bases. This isn't Tom Clancy, where an in depth story is exactly necessary.
Most posters here are idiots; why click and go to the trouble of posting a comment if you know you have to read the damn thing or be remotely interested in it. I thought it was a good read.
@TonnFool23 I think that if that was released in American, than all the patriots in our country would probably try and get the game canceled. But that's just me. I sure wouldn't care if I was killing Americans, as long as the story is fictional. I don't want to bomb Pearl Harbor, or be part of Al Qaeda lol
@TonnFool23 Most shooters these days are American made, therefore they don't want to paint themselves as the enemy most of the time even though it can be true. I guess you'll just have to wait for another country to start making unbiased shooters because Americans are always heroes in American games.
Why can't we get a game where the main story is killing american soldiers? Why is it the americans always play the good guys when infact american goverment are the biggest bastards of all?
@barules Come to think of it, I can't even name one U.S military shooter that doesn't involve the Russians as the bad guys. Theres as much of a possibility of Americans being bad guys as there is Russians, they aren't exactly power hungry sadistic evil dudes like games seem to make them out to be.
who in the hell was the graphic designer that chose to put the name of the author 20 times larger than the actual title....
Will there be any game where we got to control russian, killing or invading america... that will be cool
Suffering with mild insomnia I read a lot of books. The writing style of this is terrible, short snappy sentences. Yeah maybe write it like that when action kicks off but not all the time, makes it horrible to read. Was thinking about getting this, totally changed my mind now.
The selling out begins. I can't believe what has happened to a franchise I once enjoyed and respected so much.
Seems good. But I think it may have been a better choice to get an Ex-Spetsznaz to write this novel for true historical accuracy, rather than an Ex-SAS who probably doesn't know as much about the Soviets and Spetsznaz.
@i_like_pie223 That's called a writing style, bro.I' ve read Hemingway's novels, and even though this doesn't compare with that (obviously) even his stories are written in a very cut and succinct way.
Wow all that text is about as exciting as the game itself. I give it 2 months before its in the bargain bin. I was a hardcore fan of this until I actually played the beta on PS3 and PC. Although PC is much better, its just not exciting enough to hold my interest.
bad writing? it's not stellar but it's not any worse than the latest tom clancy book. though judging by most of the comments on this page, i'm surprised that the majority of you aren't illiterate, let alone able to stitch together a coherent comment.
If this was the author's own IP, he'd be lucky if an agent got past the first dialogue exchange before putting the manuscript down and sending a rejection notice. Guess working with a blockbuster franchise gives you a lot of literary leeway.
i stopped reading after the first sentence and skipped to the end. too much reading for a video game.... for me anyway