The Final season reached its midpoint by the end of this volume, as the
series takes us to some dark corners and unplumbed depths of the world in search of temporal rifts being used by the Raptors, which have been coming through into modern eras and posing a
real challenge. Fedorov and Karpov have already been frustrated with their inability to close the so called “Sky Rift” over the epicenter of the Tunguska Event, but that
is but one of many undiscovered rifts, and the Raptors have a sixth sense that allows them to find them.
Many have been located in deep underground cave networks, possibly because
the Raptors fled underground in their own world when Chicxulub fell. Fedorov finds a wealth of information at the Krasnoyarsk Speleo Club that gives him good maps of the caves. Their
mission is to find points in the tunnel systems to set demolition charges and prevent any breakout, just as they did at Lake Lama and Rail tunnel # 39 in earlier volumes.
For readers dropping in on these volumes and hearing talk of Raptors, these
are not the small but vicious predators that were featured in Jurassic Park, but a creature unknown to modern science that was missed in the paleontological records. It is highly evolved,
with a mix of physical features akin to birds, bats, and reptiles, but bipedal and very intelligent. It’s ability to fly or drift on atmospheric thermals has proven very daunting.
Fedorov’s theory, particularly after a reconnaissance to the deep past, is that these creatures have seen what devastation will be caused by the Chicxulub asteroid impact, and that
they have homed in on magnetic anomalies associated with temporal rifts to migrate to a safer time in the future. As it happens, the modern worlds they end up invading already have one
well established apex predator—humans, and there is no tolerance for the arrival of another, particularly one that has been treating humans as a prey animal. What results is an
inter-species war, where both sides end up using some fairly terrible weapons.
While the Raptors, as Fedorov has chosen to call them, have not shown much
in the way of tool use or any advanced technology, they do present a most unexpected and deadly new kind of attack in this volume, and a simple school Janitor, a man named Boris, is one
of the first to find out just how deadly it can be.
As it served them well in the past, Fedorov and Karpov make good use of the
incredible power of the Kamenski Device, which allows them to make very precise temporal shifts. With it they can go back and correct their mishaps until they get a desired outcome.
Karpov decides that taking a brief jaunt forward to modern times allows them a dual opportunity to bring back more modern weapons for his Siberian army, which must now fight the Raptors
in addition to Volkov’s Orenburg Host. At the same time, they can harvest information to update their portable Wiki files, and Nikolin has been busy researching to find out when and
where the Raptors might make their next big attacks.
Karpov refuses to look at information on how he conducts his battles in the
field against Volkov, but he has no scruples about gaining this kind of intelligence on the Raptors so he can beef up his defenses ahead of time and give them a real surprise when they
attack. But the Raptors fight back with a few surprises of their own in an eerie twist on this inter-species warfare.
In the midst of all of this, Fedorov and Karpov also find time to get back
on mission and resolve the fate of Josef Stalin. Ivan Volkov is at his wits end against Karpov’s resurgent Siberian Army and decides he must go underground and disappear from the
history to drop off of Karpov’s radar screen.
All in all, there’s a lot going on here in this
volume, with action on many scales, near death danger to major characters, and some most unexpected twists and turns along the way. The Raptors were a most refreshing change of pace for
the series, but as this volume ends, Fedorov is confronted with the possibility that all they have done may be in vain, and that the world they fought to preserve, in two world wars, may
still be doomed.