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From the Story Arc: My Brother's Keeper

Next Story in the Arc: Respite by Komrad Vex (Friday, January 05, 2007)

(posted Friday, January 05, 2007)

It was an unnaturally bright night. The moon hung high above the horizon casting it’s eerie light across the calm waters of Bloody Bay. The Yakutsk Star sat moored at the cargo docks, deadly still on the glassy water. A shadow quickly darted between cargo containers on the docks.

The rusty, old freighter groaned as it pulled against the mooring ropes holding it fastened to the wharf. The ship had seen better days. Rusty and weathered, the Yakutsk Star had endured a hard life at sea. it was a shadow of its former self, but still a proud ship. The men standing guard at the top of the gang plank shuffled about restlessly. The ship let out a jarring, mournful shriek as it rubbed against the dock pilescovering the ascent of the dark figure slinking up the forward mooring line. The guards looked around suddenly startled by the sound. Fumbling in his pocket of his leather jacket for a pack of cigarettes, one of the guards at the top of the plank leaned against a metal cargo crate, letting out a long huff of breath. Casually, he slung his AK-47 over his shoulder as he dug in his pocket for a lighter.

As he drew in a long haul of smoke, he watched his companion absently strolling down the gang plank. He sat there, enjoying his cigarette, lazily picking at his fingernails, not noticing the menacing shape above him on top of the cargo container. Suddenly, he was jerked off the deck. A hand like a bear trap grabbed his hair, hoisting him up to the top of the container. Panicking, his mouth sprang open and let out a shriek along with a billow of smoke. The other guard, half way down the plank, spun around with his gun at the ready hearing his companion’s startled cry.

The top of the cargo container was bathed in the shadow cast by the command tower, but he could see a shape pulling his compatriot out of sight. Without thinking, he pulled the trigger spraying bullets at the container. He didn't know what was up there, but all he could see of his friend were his flailing legs frantically trying to shake himself loose. The gunman kept firing, swaying the barrel of his gun from side to side as is spat angry fire over the deck. The sound of ricocheting bullets was quickly replaced by the clicking of his rifle as it vainly tried to draw rounds out of the spent magazine. He looked down at the gun, anxiously sliding the bolt back trying to get the gun to work again. As panic gripped his stomach, he looked up at the container again. The limp legs of his friend hung over the edge of the container, riddled with bullet wounds. The figure that had attacked his friend rose and launched itself into the air.

Landing with a thud in front of him, the figure moved toward him slowly. In a last attempt to fend off his tormentor, the thug swung his gun like a bat. Deftly, a hand shot out and caught the butt of the rifle, violently pulling it out of his hands. Slowly backing down the plank toward the docks, the frightened guard looked around him, desperately searching for some way to defend himself. Like a shot, the figure pounced on him, grabbing him by the neck and knocking him to the ground. Now, completely out of shadow, the thug could see his assailant. As he looked at the face he could see a reflection of himself in the red tinted goggles the man wore. Instantly, he knew who had attacked him.

Vex looked down at the startled thug. The look of fear was quickly replaced by recognition and then a smile spread across his lips. Knowing exactly what the man was thinking, Vex gritted his teeth hard and spoke in a low gravely tone,

“Idiot! Look what you have done!"

With a sigh, Vex relaxed his jaw and let his shoulders slump. Loosening his grip on the man's throat, he began to pull away. Sputtering, the guard propped himself up on his elbows and rubbed his throat.

”Look what I've done?! This is your..."

In the blink of an eye, Vex's mouth tightened with a flash of anger and he drove his fist into the man's face. The savage blow caught the thug totally unprepared. His head snapped back, pounding into the metal grating of the plank with a jarring, hollow thud.

Vex sat perched over the unconsious form, looking at the man's bloodied face, contemplating the events of the past few minutes. Things had not gone exactly how he had envisioned them. He pulled his comm unit from his belt, tuned it to the CCCP freguency and pressed the activation button. The comm line crackled to life, waiting for his transmission…he open his mouth in preparation to call for backup and then quickly thought better of it. What help could his comrades be in this situation? This was his mess to clean up. The less the CCCP was involved in this affair the better, especially if it continued as it had started. With a twich of his stubby finger he switched the comm line off and sat silently staring into the distant water.

A moment later, his attention snapped back to the task at hand. He looked up at the bridge house. The faint green glow of the instrument panels and the movement of shadows caught his eye. Quietly, he made his way along the port side rail to the hatchway leading into the structure. Reaching out with a cautious hand, he opened the door, cringing as it made a rusty squawk. Peering through the tiny sliver of an opening, he could see no activity in the stairwell.

Not wanting to waste an opportunity, he pushed the door open and made his way to the stairs. Winding his way up the passage, he came to the bridge door. A round porthole in the door spilled a green glow into the hall. Crouching low against the wall, he reached into his belt and pulled out a small mirror with a telescopic handle and inched it up to the porthole. Inside, he could see a man standing almost directly in front of the door. He swivelled the mirror to see the rest of the room. Other than the one guard, there was no one else in the room, except the boy. The small form sat like a statue, deathly still in the middle of the room.

Pulling the mirror back, Vex folded it absently and put it back in his belt. He slumped back against the wall, his mind full of thoughts of the boy. Earlier that afternoon he had received an urgent call from Vitaly Cherenko, a contact he hadn't had reason to call on in some time. Cherenko, a Russian expatriate, maintained close contact with many recent immigrants from the motherland. He had founded a Russian community centre that helped find jobs for parents and settle children in schools. A child had been the reason for Cherenko's call. Borya Kotov, the son of Sergie Kotov, a former Soviet biotech worker had gone missing.

The boy had been grabbed in broad daylight in front of his school. Witnesses had said they saw him being dragged into a black van. Luckily, the current state of the city necessitated the installation of cameras in sensitive areas, including schools. The license plates on the van had been easily visible in the security footage. According to Vex’s police source, the van had been reported stolen earlier that week. Not willing to leave the investigation to the police, Vex had asked to examine the tapes. The clue he had been looking for was right there painted on the side of van. Obviously, the police had missed the significance of the crazed looking cow. It was the insignia of a small time gang of low-life goons for hire called the Mad Cowz. He had spent the rest of the afternoon tracking the movements of the kidnappers. The Cowz were sloppy, they hadn’t been hard to find. Eventually the trail ended at the Titan Maritime Salvage yard in Bloody Bay.

Vex refocused his attention on the present. He mulled over his options a few seconds. Standing up briskly, he resolved his plan of attack. Crossing to the opposite wall of the hall, Vex took a deep breath and catapulted himself off the wall. His shoulder made solid contact as he crashed into the door full force. Violently, the latch gave way under his onslaught and the door flew open striking the lone guard in the back of the head. The sickly crunching sound of the man’s skull meeting the metal of the door was quickly replaced by the thump of his limp body hitting the floor. Regaining his balance, Vex’s eyes darted around the room looking for anyone else that he may have missed.

After he was confident the room was safe, he looked down at the boy sitting on the floor. The child sat perfectly still, cross-legged in the middle of the room.

“Everything is alright, Borya. My name is Komrad Vex. I’m her to take you home.”

The boy didn’t move.

Vex moved closer trying his best to appear non-threatening. As he drew closer he could see the boy was shaking. As he moved around to face the child he could see a puddle on the floor around the boy, he had soiled himself.

“ Don’t be afraid, Borya. Everything is alright, you’re safe.”

Again, there was no response from the boy.

Looking down into the boy’s tear stained face, Vex slowly reached down to pluck him from the floor,

“ Everything is fine, I’m going to take you home. Nobody else is going to hurt you.”

Borya looked up at him with a terrified look as he began lifting him off the floor.

The click was almost imperceptible, but at the last second Vex realised his mistake. There was no time to react, no way to prevent what about to happen.

First came the blinding light and thunderous crack as the spot the boy had occupied a split second earlier erupted. The blast hit them both point blank rocketing them backward. As his body was forced through the steel wall of the bridge, Vex could feel the fragile form of Borya’s body fall apart in his arms.

Half buried under a pile of smoking rubble in the rear cabin of the bridge, Vex fought to stay conscious. He was alive…barely. His flack jacket and the boy had absorbed the brunt of the blast. As his injuries overcame him and he began to slip into the quiet of unconsciousness, he could hear the rhythmic beeping of his CCCP emergency transponder. Soon the base teleporter would snatch him back to safety.