Before Mila Zharkova rose to power in Volgograd, her father, Nikolai Zharkov, led the Narodists, a terrorist network that operated in the former Russian Federation, and parts of the former Soviet Union that still had a large disenfranchised Russian populations in search for any cause that would recognize their plight. The Narodists promised a return to prosperity for millions of Russians who believed they lost their country, especially in Siberia, where millions of refugees resettled to escape terror and disaster that engulfed their homes. Both of my parents were among these refugees, and neither of them had the option to return home.
My father was born in Dhaka, a city that no longer exists. He arrived as a child with his parents after they fled the Flooding of Bangladesh, and settled in Novosibirsk. My mother was also a refugee, but she was from Russia. Her family lived in Kazan, the former capital of Tatarstan, the non-Russian state on the Volga that died when the Narodists burned the city to the ground. My mother, half-Tatar and half-Russian, fled the Narodist terror when she was already a teenager. She eventually arrived in Novosibirsk where she met my father, and for a few years they lived together in the city where I was born. From what I remembered it was a happy childhood, while my childhood lasted.
Everything changed the night my parents decided to take me to visit Vostokia. We took the the Trans-Siberian Railroad to see the rest of the Siberian countryside. That night the Narodists targeted that train. They stopped us on the track, and shot both of my parents. I was only five years old, and I only survived because my parents told me to hide under the tracks. Later that night I was found by a Siberian paramilitary team that returned me to Novosibirsk, where I stayed at a boarding school funded by the state.
When I grew older I joined the military to defend Siberia against the growing Narodist threat, now led by Mila Zharkova, who pledged to lead her army across the Urals to retake the land they recognized as rightfully Russia’s. We trained everyday at a base in a classified location, prepared to defend our country from the threat of invasion. We were far from any city, and we kept the base’s location a secret in order to protect us from any Narodist attacks. But one day the Narodists found us, and destroyed the base in a series of demolitions.
I was assigned to patrol at the time of the first demolition, and so I survived that attack. When I rushed to check if there were any other survivors, I was caught in the second demolition, which cost me my legs and my left arm.
I was barely able to pilot a hovercar until it crashed a few miles east of the base. That’s where I was discovered by Alpha Volikov, the leader of the Pack of Wolves, a secretive military team that was operating inside Siberian territory.
I had only heard of the Pack of Wolves through stories that I considered legends before I accidentally discovered their base of operations. The Pack’s mission was to defend civilian lives against actors that threatened their rights and their safety. It also turned out that I was the first outsider to discover the Pack.
When I shared my story with Alpha Volikov, he grew sympathetic, especially granted our common enemy. He shared my disgust for the Narodists, but for other reasons. His main concern about the insurgency were its American allies who were now aiding them and providing them with the resources necessary to launch an invasion into Siberia. While we didn’t share the same perspective on the matter, we both recognized that the Narodist mission to restore Russia to its former glory meant the suffering of millions of Siberians whose families have made this land their home; and without Siberia, there was no refuge state to welcome other refugees fleeing terror and disaster at home.
And so Alpha Volikov offered me the opportunity to work with the Pack of Wolves on behalf of Siberia. Using the Pack’s advanced technology, he rehabilitated me and provided me with cybernetic arms and legs that would allow to be an even more effective soldier for my country. I wasn’t a wolf, so I took the symbol of the tiger, not only to acknowledge my home in Siberia but also to acknowledge my Bangladeshi roots. Eventually I became a symbol of the Siberian resistance against Zharkova, and a scourge for the Narodists. They call me the Siberian Tiger, but I prefer Bagha, a name chosen from my father’s tongue.
The Pack of Wolves remained a reliable ally until Alpha Volikov’s murder. Ever since they have taken a neutral stance in the face of invasion. With or without their support, I will continue defend my people for as long as I can.
Bagha will return as one of the four perspectives in the Coyote File. Stay tuned for more.