Копье дракона – Kop'ye Drakona: Dragon Spear
The Soviet (and later Russian) designation for the military intelligence agency responsible for exploring and exploiting the Dungeon. The name references the legendary Russian hero Dobrynya Nikitich, and specifically how he was able to sunder the ground and rid himself of the remains of a great dragon in which he had been trapped for several days.
It may be more than a simple coincidence that Dragon Spear's terminology for the Dungeon -- "Basement", or подвал (pron. "podvol" in its native tongue) -- is also considered LONG STAIR's officially sanctioned term.
The Soviet Dungeon program was born from the efforts of a Red Army geological survey mission that 'discovered' the subterrestial zone beneath the Tunguska Impact site in the 1950s. When it was discovered Tunguska linked to the newly created breach at the Russian nuclear test site of Novaya Zemlya, the entire project was recorganised under the command of elements of the GRU and christened Dragon Spear.
Within a year of its inception, the secrecy of Dragon Spear was potentially threatened by the actions of the spy Oleg Penkovsky, a Colonel of the GRU who transmitted information to the West in the lead up to the Cuban Missle Crisis. Though there was no evidence he knew or had told his handlers of the existence of the Dungeon, the suspicion that he had was enough for him to be transferred to as an "expeditionary volunteer" to Dragon Spear to function much as a sheep in a mine field; the means of his demise was even more horrific than analysts in the West had imagined.
This proved so popular with the troops assigned to exploring the Dungeon that many of the USSR's dissidents, criminals and traitors -- and those of its client states -- were assigned "expeditionary volunteer" status. Though this tradition has largely tailed off within Dragon Spear itself, during their period of cooperation with the USSR the PRC took this policy to heart and still practices it today within Mingfu.
Novaya Zemlya Edit
In 1961, the Soviet Union detonated what remains the world's largest thermonuclear bomb in the atmosphere above its Novaya Zemlya test site in the Artic Ocean. The sheer magnitude of this explosion resulted in, as far as anyone can tell, the world's first artificially (albeit accidentially) created breach into the Dungeon. Though Soviet scientists declared they had chosen to utilise only half the bomb's intended full 100 megaton yield in order to reduce the dangers of fallout, this was deliberate misinformation. In reality, half the yield and its associated fallout was simply consumed by the opening of the breach.
Recently LONG STAIR uncovered historical intelligence suggesting that as a response to the Tunguska Incident, the Soviets were able to physically relocate the Novaya Zemlya gateway to a more secure location to the south of the archipeligo in 1973, utilising a concentrated multi-point subsurface nuclear detonation that drastically altered local topography.
This remains the Russian Federation's primary gateway under the control of elements of the military loyal to Putin.
In 1984, the Soviet Union deliberately opened another Gate during nuclear testing at Degelen, Kazakhstan. This site was used for Dungeon operations up until (and for a brief period afterwards) the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.
A recent encounter with a slavic slave labor camp located within the Dugeon suggests it is currently being exploited for the purpose of resource extraction by the Kazakhstan government.
Further intelligence sugggests that the gate has been made available to the entire CIS, along with certain highly placed Russian robber barons that do not need to deal with either the Trap Door or the Ladder.
Russia's first gate is believed to have formed in 1908 during the Tunguska Event in Siberia. The existence of the breach was not discovered until 1938 by Russian mineralogist Leonid Kulik. The discovery of a vast subterranean complex inhabited by previously undiscovered creatures was however quietly lost amidst the horrors of the ending of the Great Purge and the subsequent witch hunts for German fifth columnists, as well as Stalin's personal dismissal of the story.
It was only after Stalin's death that researchers returned to Tunguska in the 1950s, led by one of Kulik's fellow prisoners of war to whom he confided his discovery. The history of the project is mostly unknown to Western researchers, though it's known that the People's Republic of China were involved during the alliance between the two countries. Initial incursions into the Dugeon through the Tunguska gate appear to have encountered little hostile resistance, and information about certain discoveries were carefully seeded into the State-approved science-fiction films of the era.
In 1969 a disaster struck the complex; many outside observers believe this is what ultimately underlied the collapse of Sino-Soviet relations. It was long believed by Western intelligence that the Chinese launched a subterrestrial assault on the complex utilizing xenotech to eradicate it. Modern analysts however suggest that whatever befell Tunguska in 1969 was purely of Dungeon origin, with the Chinese simply taking advantage of the chaos to liberate valuable xenotech artifacts that they subsequently refused to return. In either event, this appears to be the first verifiable gateway to gateway journey undertaken through the Dungeon.
The subsequent and current state of the Tunguska complex is unknown. There continue to be rumours that it underwent sudden and extreme xenoforming.
Most troops assigned to Dragon Spear are veterans of the Chechen Wars or the Spetsnaz units under the command of the GRU. Unsurprisingly there are also more than a few mercenaries, "contract soldiers" and others who have managed either through hook or by crook to land a posting in what is the single most dangerous and potentially profitable operational theatre within which the Russian Army operates.
Just as unsurprisingly, though morale and lvels of professionalism are reasonably good, Dragon Spear at times finds itself suffering from the same problems of corruption, laziness, violence and mental illness that beset the rest of Russia's armed forces. Each new wave of postings are put through a fairly harsh bootcamp experience design to foster an absolute dedication to the members of their squad; peer pressure is extreme, and useually quite effective.