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Jim Drake- The search for Nadim.


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Two years ago I was working as an Electrical and Communications Engineer for BuroHappold Engineering, a professional services film offering engineering consultancy, design, planning, and project management for all aspects of building and construction.

I was recruited straight out of University and had been working tirelessly for the past three years to solidify my place within the company. Right from my first day the workload ruled out any form of a social life and as expected invites to nights out, holidays, and birthday celebrations became increasingly less frequent and eventually stopped all together.

The lack of a social life was perfect for me, it meant that I had no qualms about being sent overseas for extended periods of time to work on projects. Although I had started at BuroHappold too late to be part of the primary team selected for the Sochi Winter Olympics project in February 2013 I was asked to join them.

Piecing together information I gathered from colleagues it seemed that my predecessor had been using underpaid and unqualified workers and pocketing the difference, not a smart move at any point but even more so when the construction is under scrutiny by the whole world.

My Job was to test the power and communication networks for the Fisht Olympic Stadium and oversee the final installations for the opening in April. The language barrier between myself and the Russian Engineers was crossed by a helpful Chernarussian engineer called Nadim who whilst also being my translator made it his mission to ensure I wasn't working too hard. Often he would show up unannounced at my flat after work with a bottle of something alcoholic and plans for how the evening will progresses.

Despite my reluctance to go out on a work night, or any other night for that matter, he would always convince me and I would always regret it in the morning.

After the project was completed I returned to England but Nadim and I kept in regular contact and was someone I considered a good friend. Nadim was kept on at the Fisht Stadium to see it through the Winter Olympics and had great pleasure in telling me that it's smooth running was all down to him. He never was one for modesty.

Nadim kept me in the loop about the developments of the stadium and informed me that it was to become the Russian National Football Stadium and asked if I would consider joining his team for the redevelopment project. Initially I thought he was joking but as we talked more about the job role, and how deep Russian Government pockets are, it became apparent that this was no joke and the offer was genuine.

I handed in my notice and left as soon as the visa was issued, I was off to work on a project that would pay more in one year than I have earned in the past four, little did I know it would be my last.

Less than a month after I arrived in Sochi this whole mess began. First reports stated that a mysterious illness had taken the lives of a few residents in Myshkino, then after a few days stories of rioting and unrest started to appear in every media outlet. It became clear that the government wasn't in control, some reports stated that it was due to an infectious disease spreading through the country, others stating that it was groups of rebels causing the problems.

It was at this point that Nadim asked me to come with him to South Zagoria, he had been begged by his former employer at the Elektrozavodsk power station to provide cover for the dwindling workforce. Despite my reluctance to head into what seemed like a warzone I couldn't say no to Nadim after all he had done for me. He believed that if we could keep the station going that the whole situation would blow over and we could return to work in Sochi, and I foolishly agreed.

At the time we weren't aware of how bad it really was, we just knew that the power needed to be kept on to ensure the hospitals in the area could continue giving aid and the communication systems could keep information flowing.

We weren't there long before the infection started to take the town, and even less time before it was just me and Nadim remaining in the power plant. We managed to seal the entrance, gather supplies, and hide in the generator room.

We were able to monitor the power situation from there but we still needed to enter the rest of the power plant to fix any issues that occurred. This plan was proving successful, we had managed to keep the plant operational for nearly a week, but we were running ourselves in to the ground.

It was the early hours of the 12th of November when I was woken by Nadim's screams for help. I didn't move immediately, I lay there frozen, watching the pulsating amber warning lights bring the half opened shutter in and out of view. It took another scream and gunshot before I sprang into action, not to my friends aid, but to the shutter controls.

“You're too late”

It's been two months since I woke up covered in blood, it's been two months since I heard that voice, and it's been two months since I allowed Chernarus to plunge into the darkness because of my cowardice.

I don't know if Nadim is still alive but I'm going to keep looking. Either I'll find him or find our attackers.

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