DANYA KOMYSA is a courageous Partisan. He is active in his resistance to collectivization and passionately embraces his father’s hatred of occupying Russian terror. Danya’s heart is rooted in the streams of history, being a proud bastion of the noble ideals and raw courage of his Cossack ancestors. He is wildly handsome and fearsome in appearance, yet his eyes are full of gentleness, integrity and determination. A good natured, crazy practical joker with those he loves, he is fiery and confrontational with any man who dares to threaten his family or his ideals. Danya is not without weaknesses and is capable of great vulnerability. He despises the emotion of fear within himself, to which he responds with instant courage and determination. The son of a nationalist, his father paid the ultimate price, banished to the notorious Solovetsk Gulag for acts of insurgency against the Motherland. Now the fires of rebellion burn deep in Danya’s heart; yet tempered by the gentle whispers of destiny’s call.

GENERAL BOHDAN VRATEK is Russia’s most notorious Chekist henchman. A full member of the Politburo, he is renowned for his merciless delivery of execution quotas and his tenacious ferocity in pursuit of Soviet success. The General is fifty years old, short and stocky in appearance with a fat shaven head and goatee beard. Vratek draws immense pleasure from the torment and execution he is charged to inflict, as ten thousand souls per week are perishing under his ruthless command.

CAPTAIN YURI BELOV is Vratek’s second in command. He is a young militant, prodigy of the Soviet Military Academy and the youngest to reach the rank of Captain in Soviet military history. Belov is deceived by his own youthful arrogance and devoid of all moral boundaries. Secretly the Captain’s thoughts are consumed with ambitious plans of his own.

SISTER MILENA was once a senior adjutant for the Russian Intelligence Service in Moscow. Appalled by the cruelty of the Soviet regime, she is tormented by a bad conscience and turns to her Orthodox faith for answers. Now her life is consecrated to God in service of the Ukraine people in the midst of purges and famine. The intriguing, self-styled Milena is part spiritual mentor, part resistance operative. She is head of the Poltava Sisterhood; a small network of disaffected Russian adjutants, who possess a rare courage greater than the will to preserve their own lives. Milena is middle-aged, slim and graceful. Her eyes are full of liberty and affection, yet also bear the weight of troubled times and great responsibility. She is upright in appearance, highly dignified, ferociously intelligent and perfectly mannered. Her magnetic warmth and charisma is an inspiration to all who are privileged enough to spend time in her presence.

NATALKA ZAKHAROV was once minute taker at Politburo meetings in Moscow. Now the administration of collectivization demands, that as secretary to General Vratek, she is based in the field at Poltava Oblast, Ukraine. She is twenty-eight years old and a classic Russian beauty, tall and athletic, with long raven hair and striking green eyes. Natalka is intelligent and rational by necessity rather than compulsive. She is crushed by years of unquestioning compliance, and becomes increasingly defiant and rebellious towards a regime she thoroughly despises. Her posting to Field Operations is like a prison sentence, as her associations and movements are monitored closely; being privy to the sordid details of Internal Affairs keeps her awake at night. Horrified by the Soviet administration of terror as execution quotas soar, Natalka endures her stifling existence for the sake of Milena and the Sisterhood, whom she secretly serves.

SERGEI BARANOV is an independent thinker, with an unrestrained tongue. He is twenty one years old, half Russian and half Ukrainian, yet increasingly ashamed of his Red Army uniform. Like many of his comrades, he is increasingly disaffected by the brutal, heartless regime which he serves. Only a few possess the courage and presence of mind to defy their superiors, and he is among them.

© William David Spencer 2012

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