Susan awoke to Dimitri banging on the "daughters." He was kicking the one with black hair over and over again while yelling something about having his authentication in his steel toed boots. The other "daughters" looked like they were passively watching but, she realized that they were deactivated. One had it's arm ripped off at the socket and the others looked like they too were in similarly dire states.
She stood up and rubbed her head. It was cold. Colder than it had any right being. The landscape was wrong as well. Everything seemed wrong somehow. She looked over at the tent holding the equipment to see that someone had opened up all the crates. Whomever had done this was thorough as even the smaller crates were opened up and the gear inside was strewn about. At first, she thought that Dimitri had done it since he was currently taking his frustrations out on the Daughter unit named Tabitha but, she dismissed that idea.
"Dimitri, stop beating on the child. We're not in Nebraska."
Dimitri shoved Tabitha one last time so that she fell over. Then he sat down on the grass, breathing heavily.
"Do you know where we are," Susan asked.
"No. But every piece of equipment is ruined and the tools are missing."
"Okay," Susan rubbed her temples slowly "What do you last remember?"
"I was engaging the deviant when someone jumped me."
"Yeah… he… well, he fell out of a tree."
Susan nodded slowly, "Yes, I think so."
"So… two of them?"
"No, "she corrected him "four individuals total. We have to assume that they were all deviants. Furthermore… at least one of them is a pretty intense manipulator of space. They managed to 'port us and all of our gear…"
"The deviant with the card hat… the one pretending to be a park ranger. He was impressive."
"I'm saying… something about him… I can't get it out of my head… His voice?"
Susan's lips pursed into a tight line. It occurred to her that Dimitri may have been compromised.
"Dimitri, he was a deviant and may be a full on reality warper… he told me to pray to him. He thinks that he's a god."
Dimitri was silent for a bit and slowly smiled, "Well… he's got style at least."
Three hours later, Susan and Dimitri walked into a small diner along highway 97. She told Dimitri to get cleaned up while she made contact with a field office. The kind lady confirmed that they were in Alaska and the date. Susan ordered a slice of pecan pie and asked to use the phone. While waiting for the pie, Susan dialed a number that led to a cleaning company in Boston. She left a brief message about needing he whole wardrobe cleaned and the number for the diner. She then moved to a booth near the window and watched the lonesome highway until Dimitri returned.
"In my hometown, there is a story" Dimitri said after sitting in silence for a little while, "Once, there was king who had become very sick. He decided to take a long walk in the woods to think but soon became lost. Ill and lost, he wandered aimlessly into the night. Eventually, he came to a small hut deep in the dark part of the woods. The king walked into the hut and came upon a strange, ugly old woman. The king was sick and lost but, he was no idiot. 'Baba Yaga' says the king, 'I am very ill and lost in your woods. I need your help.' Baba Yaga smiled at the smart king who knew her name and told him to follow the path of thorns in the morning but, send back his youngest son. The king did as he was asked but was terribly saddened. What would Baba Yaga do with his youngest son?"
"Is there a point to this," Susan asked?
"I'll skip to the end… The youngest son willingly goes to Baba Yaga's hut in disguise. She sees through the disguise right away but is so entertained by the boy's lies that she lets him live for another day. For 10 years, the boy entertains Baba Yaga. She teaches him about the woods and magic and all manner of strange secrets. Then on the last day, the boy – now a man – dresses as a king. Baba Yaga helps him outwit his two older brothers and become the new king."
"Isn't Baba Yaga a cruel and horrible monster in the forest… like the boogieman for Russians?"
"So… Why did the boy work with Baba Yaga? Why didn't he try to kill her?"
"Because sometimes, what looks like a monster may be more helpful than your own brothers."
They sat in silence for a while.
Coffee came and went.
Eventually, a van marked 'Waldo's Clown Service' came to pick them up. Once inside the van, Susan looked at Dimitri for a long while.
"Dimitri, do you remember Koschei the deathless? Friend to Baba Yaga?"
Dimitri looked confused for a moment, then smiled. "You do not believe in Baba Yaga… only Koschei?"
Susan nodded slowly as Agent Richenboch used the taser on Dimitri.
"There is only Koschei, the deathless and the darkness of the woods."