|“||Sergei Antonov takes us to the real Metro 2033 - mysterious, full of surprises and dangers; filled with the spirit of hopelessness. A great advantage of the novel is its main character, who wants to fix the world, and perhaps all of us dreamed about that at some point. Will there be a little light at the end of the dark tunnels?||„|
— Dmitry Glukhovsky
Dark Tunnels (Russian: Тёмные туннели) is a novel that is part of the Universe of Metro 2033, a long-running series of short stories, novellas, and novels written by different authors and set in the world of Metro. Dark Tunnels, written by Belarusian author Sergei Antonov, was originally published in January of 2010. Although there is currently no English version of the book, Dark Tunnels has been translated into a number of other languages. The novel was translated into Polish by Paweł Podmiotko and published in Poland on the 8th of April, 2015.
Like Piter, Antonov's book is one of the very first works from the Universe series; it's the second novel published under the same label, which makes it the fourth published story set in Glukhovsky's world after Metro 2033, Metro 2034, and the first entry in the Universe of Metro 2033 (released a month earlier). Similarly to Glukhovsky's writings, Dark Tunnels is also set in Moscow.
|Attention! Spoiler ahead!|
This article contains plot information that may spoil major story aspects for the reader. Read at your own risk, or skip the spoiler by clicking HERE.
Anatoly (a.k.a. "Tolya" or "Tom") Tomsky, the protagonist of this novel, is a 27 year-old anarchist who commands a squad of soldiers from the Voykovskaya station. When the leaders of his home station learn of a sadistic plan to genetically engineer a breed of super soldiers at a hidden laboratory in Lubyanka on the Red Line, Tolya and his six loyal comrades (with the assistance of veteran Sergeant Arshinov) are selected to sabotage this experiment. At first inspired by the old literature of Pyotr Kropotkin and Mikhail Bakunin, Anatoly perceives the mission as a quest to save humanity, but things don't go according to plan as the team is broken up - he and his close friends are soon subjected to extremely painful experiences. Through one misfortune after another, distance between Tomsky and his initial objective grows - the mission becomes only more complicated along the way. After several harrowing ordeals, our hero's wish to help others gradually turns into a desire for vengeance. But will the new allies and friends he encounters during the journey remind him of what is truly important?
Set in the Moscow Metro, Dark Tunnels gives us insight into previously unexplored parts of the Russian capital's subway. Voykovskaya (the headquarters of the faction), Vodny Stadion (its cultural centre), and Rechnoy Vokzal (its farm) form an anarcho-communist community known as the Huliaipole Republic, guided by their charismatic leader "Nestor" - nicknamed so after the Ukrainian anarcho-communist Nestor Makhno. Further southeast on the same line, Mayakovskya is revealed to be a seemingly deprived location ruled over by criminals. On the previously abandoned Timiryazevskaya to the north, a bewildering society of Satanists has developed. Elsewhere, one station in the Filyovskaya Line, due to its unfortunate position, has been subjected to high levels of radiation so it is now inhabited by the mutated offspring of survivors who sought shelter there after the Great War of 2013.
The beginning of the novel relates to the northern part of the Moscow metro. Here, at the last three stations north of the Zamoskvoretskaya line, the anarchist ideas about freedom of democracy and justice quickly took root.
The novel opens with a saboteur from the Red Line arriving at the Huliaipole Republic. Having introduced himself as Nikita, the defector reveals various military secrets about the Red Line - an experiment to create soldiers who don't feel pain, physically superior to the rest, and without feelings that are resistant to radiation or disease. Nikita asks the head of the anarchists, Nestor, to send a detachment in order to destroy the laboratory, promising to freely conduct a detachment along the Red Line, where no one will know about his betrayal. Nestor convenes seven young fighters, explains the task to them, and places Anatoly Tomsky, who managed to distinguish himself during several battles/raids, at the head of this detachment.
The detachment, along with Nikita, travel towards the Red Line. The Fourth Reich detachment is due to relations with Malyuta - one of the officers owed a debt to Nestor. In the tunnel leading to Prospect Marx, the fighters in the group begin to feel inexplicable anxiety, and their weapons expert, Gregory, panics from mereschatsya birds. At Marx Avenue (formerly Okhotny Ryad), Anatoly meets Elena - a girl selling ideological literature - and repels the arrogant Komsomol member who molested her. At the station, Nikita invites the anarchists into the tent of an elderly man, Mikhail Andreevich, lecturer of the party committee. After a hearty dinner, the lecturer talks for a long time, but with skill, about the achievements of the Communists. However, the long delay in his tent seems suspicious to Anatoly.
In the tunnel in front of Dzerzhinsky (Lubyanka), where Tomsk is located, Anatoly’s suspicions are justified - six of his soldiers enter an inadequate state, begin to have uncontrollable laughter, and become completely helpless in front of the red soldiers who surround them. Anatoly understands that his detachment was poisoned during their meal, and only he could think because he didn't have time to taste the food, lingering at Elena’s book tray. Tomsky also realizes that Mikhail Andreevich is actually Professor Korbut, creator of the GMC project, and Nikita - his faithful assistant, who lured the anarchists towards the Red Line to conduct experiments on them. In the laboratory, all seven anarchists are placed under anesthesia before being tied to operating tables and pumped with the necessary drugs into their blood, but the experiment with Anatoly fails - he is still awake. Korbut explains the possible unexpected side-effects of the drug by the presence of leg ulcers in Anatoly, which he received from burns by a chemical weapon in childhood. Afterwards, Korbut abandons his attempt to make a serum out of Anatoly. Later, Nikita takes him to the exit of the ventilation shaft and throws Anatoly through a garbage chute to the cemetery below. Meanwhile, Gregory falls into delirium, finds the body of Kolka (one of the soldiers of the detachment, who had been killed earlier), and buries him.
In a state of delirium, Anatoly unconsciously gets through the official routes to Mayakovskaya - Belorusskaya Station, where he meets a hermit woman, along with her young son, who was given food during the passage of a detachment from Gulyai-Pole. The woman, Klavdia Igorevna, feeds Anatoly and gives him clothes. She order her son, Misha, to bring Crab, a member of the Mayakovskaya criminal group, who can help Anatoly go through Belorusskaya without documents and get to the warehouse of Ensign Arshinov. On Mayakovskaya in front of the leader of the bandits, Cross, Anatoly promises six rounds for the passage of Crab. At the exit from Belorusskaya, Crab tries to quietly rob a passerby, but is caught and chased by his partners. In a tunnel near the station, serpentine worms crawl out of the ground, stopping the patrol and blocking those fleeing in a small closet. Frightened by the worms, the two fugitives find a small service tunnel and encounter an elderly drug addict named Charon. Charon guides them to Timiryazevskaya, ruled over by the cruel Satanists. The head of the sect, Claw, decides on sacrificing the captives to Satan. Crab and Anatoly are both euthanized with a powerful drug, before being placed in separate prison cells. A captured mutant from the Filev Line, named Mobat, leads them out of their shackles with hypnosis. With the aid of Mobat, all three escape from Timiryazevskaya, along the way distracting a Hanseatic merchant name Michael.
In a secret passage, they reach Molodezhnaya, the native station of Mobat. However, on the way, Mikhail leaves his hypnotic state and becomes enraged. Mobat once again hypnotizes him, but loses his strength and remains in the aisle. Having reached Molodezhnaya, Anatoly reports about Mobat and the detachment who returned him to the station, then notes the death of the mutant. Zhabdar, the head of the station, tells Tomsky about a tunnel through which he can exit to the Ring Line. To pass the terrain there, they are helped by “Woolen” - a mutant who lost his human appearance years ago. On the Hanseatic station “Kiev”, sentinels admit Michael's claim, before arresting Tolya and Crab. However, Mikhail, who is under the hypothesis of Zhabdar, helps them escape by providing an alibai with diplomatic visas. With the help of documents, both easily get to Belorusskaya, where they switch to the radial line and, finally, reach Arshinov.
Now prepared for the second assault on the laboratory of Dzerzhinsky, Anatoly and Arshinov set off for the Reich, from where they come to the surface. Crab, having the opportunity to return to his native station, refuses and decides to help the anarchists. On Lubyanka Square, reflecting the attacks of a demon, the three impersonate the Red Expedition, a portable sarcophagus with Lenin’s body in the subway and consisting of former Tomsk fighters led by Nikita. In the clash of the Reds with anarchists and pterodactyls, almost all the Reds die. One of the mutants carries away the unconscious officer from a wounded Crab. Nikita, together with Sergey and Lenin’s body, hides in the ventilation shaft and locks the door, but Arshinov demolishes it with explosives.
Once in Korbut’s laboratory, Tomsky locks the professor in a pressure chamber. However, Nikita manages to outwit them, putting them on aim at Anatoly. At the last moment, Elena appears, who takes her hand away from Nikita. In a fight, Nikita falls on the table and the shard of a bulb is pierced into his heart, with which the saboteur manages to pierce Elena's body before death. Saving the girl, Tomsky frees the half-dead Korbut, who does the operation for Elena. During the operation, Tolya is forced to shoot Sergei. Climbing out into the tunnel, a platoon of anarchists steal the old Stalinist metro engine prepared for the ceremony of transporting the body of Lenin, taking with him Mikhail Andreevich and the wounded Elena. A steam locomotive rushes through Marx Avenue, ripping off a rally in honor of a meeting of the leader of the Russian Revolution. To escape from the chase, Arshinov unhooks the carriage with the sarcophagus and undermines the tunnel. At high speed, the locomotive begins to shake, which is why Korbut, who climbed onto his roof, falls and dies under the wheels. Having reached Polis, Anatoly takes Elena to the infirmary, where she is successfully operated on. While waiting, Tolya talks with the Trackman, from the conversation with which it becomes clear that the story of the young warriors did not end.
|Phew! That was close.|
While there may be minor spoilers in the sections below, the major spoilers have passed. Click HERE to go back to the beginning of the article.
- One of the book's main antagonists is a Red Line scientist called Mikhail Andreyevich Korbut. Although a different character altogether, many features of his personality and some of his physical characteristics bear a striking resemblance to General Korbut. Since Dark Tunnels was released over 3 years before Metro: Last Light, it's clear that Glukhovsky and 4A Games were heavily inspired by Antonov in creating their own antagonist.