Wrong Hero

From the Story Arc: The Lecture

Previous Story in the Arc: Space by Comrade Hero (Saturday, April 14, 2007)

Next Story in the Arc: Brass Face by Rack (Tuesday, April 17, 2007)

(posted Tuesday, April 17, 2007)

Comrade Hero blinked. And then he fell. He hit the base of the medical teleportation pad as gravity reasserted its hold over him. He cursed softly as he got to his feet, ignoring the slender hand that was offered to him.

“I thought these things were only for emergencies.”

Agent Indigo smiled wryly as she lowered her hand.

“Technically this is an emergency.”

“But obviously not a medical emergency. And since when do medical teleporters have the range to pull a person from the International Space Station?”

Agent Indigo's smile broadened as she watched Comrade Hero straighten and stretch his neck from side to side.

“That’s a need to know basis, Comrade Hero. And you don’t need to know that.”

Comrade Hero snorted in derision. Typical agency response. Agent Indigo may be attractive and demure but Comrade Hero would have an easier time squeezing information out of a Fake Nemesis drone.

“At least tell me where I am. I was speaking with the City Representative only moments before.”

“We’re beneath City Hall. I can’t tell you more than that. The City Representative is waiting for you. Follow me please.”

Without waiting for a reply Agent Indigo turned on her heels and strode down the corridor of the Medical Bay, hips slightly swinging from left to right.

Comrade Hero muttered under his breath and followed after her as they exited the room and walked down a wide corridor. Their footsteps echoed dully on the polished floor as the pair walked onwards in silence.

Comrade Hero had never heard of an underground facility beneath City Hall. Moscow had been littered with abandoned bases and tunnels, most of them built during the late 1940s and 1950s, a testament to Stalin’s paranoia over the growing nuclear threat posed by the United States and her European allies. This facility looked relatively new. Comrade Hero guessed it had been built sometime after the Rikti War. The lack of any apparent security details or support personnel was unusual, but not unexpected.

Agent Indigo stopped before a large double door and pressed her hand against the wall mounted scanner on the right. Momentarily the doors slid back without a sound revealing a large room full of various sized monitors and screens. A large oval table dominated the center of the room, and at the far end sat Brighid Moreira, the City Representative. Seated on her right was Azuria, the official representative of MAGI.

Brighid raised her gaze from the laptop in front of her, her eyes peering over the top of her glasses.

“Do come in Comrade Hero, Agent Indigo.”

Comrade Hero followed in after Agent Indigo. The large double doors slid shut just as quietly. Agent Indigo pulled up a seat on the left on the City Representative and gestured for Comrade Hero to sit next to her. He sat down in the comfortable leather chair and placed his hands on the desk.

Brighid Moreira stared at her laptop for a moment, before breaking the silence.

“Comrade Hero, thank you for agreeing to meet with me. I’m sure you know Azuria, and of course, Agent Indigo.”

Agreed? That rankled Comrade Hero. But he kept silent and merely nodded at the City Representative and Azuria who offered him a sympathetic smile.

Slim LCD screens and keyboards slid up from hidden alcoves in the table, one for Comrade Hero, Agent Indigo and Azuria. The seal of the Federal Bureau of Super-powered Affairs was displayed prominently on the screen.

Brighid glanced over at Comrade Hero and carefully asked.

“Does the phrase Smiert Spionem mean anything to you, Comrade Hero?”

“Death to Spies? Nyet. Should it, City Representative?”

Brighid Moreira said nothing but pressed a button on her laptop.

Images flashed onto the LCD screen in front of Comrade Hero. A Paragon City Police Department helmet cam video showing a entry into a small two bedroom apartment. Standard breach entry and positions as the Police Officers secured the apartment. The body of an elderly man crumpled over on the floor, blood pooling around the head. A close up shot of two bullet wounds on the back of the head. The Police Officer removing a note from the clenched fingers of the right hand. A note bearing two words - Smiert Spionem.

Agent Indigo frowned slightly, her fingers tapping the side of her left cheek as she watched the video footage. Azuria paled visibly at what she saw, while the City Representative kept her expression neutral.

Comrade Hero said nothing. A murder. Execution style, and a Russian warning. KGB immediately sprung to mind, but this was America, not the Soviet Union and the Cold War was long over.

Comrade Hero also doubted that the Sluzhba Vneshney Razvedki - the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service - or the Federalnaya Sluzhba Bezopasnosti - the Russian Federal Security Service would do something like this on American soil. The FSB dealt with domestic affairs in Russia and while the SVR gathered intelligence internationally, it was not a law enforcement agency per se.

Comrade Hero looked at the City Representative questioningly.

Brighid Moreira raised a hand.

“No, Comrade Hero. Your countrymen were not involved. Of that we are absolutely certain. I’ll let Azuria fill you in.”

Azuria usual calm demeanor had vanished and she appeared grim faced as she spoke.

“The murder victim is Dr. Garnier von Susteren, one of MAGI’s, one of my, senior researchers. His specialty was Necrological Consultancy. Dr. von Susteren was an expert on Reanimates - the undead.”

With a flourish of her right hand small wisps of shadows began dancing in the center of the table, spiraling upwards and forming the outline of a humanoid figure as they solidified.

“Dr. von Susteren was supposed to give a lecture to a specially assembled Longbow Taskforce in a secure base in Siren’s Call earlier today. This is the Reanimate is responsible for Dr. von Susteren’s slaying and the mass murder of over 200 Longbow personnel and support staff.”

Comrade Hero frowned. The black and red uniformed individual hovering above the table was unknown to him. The nightmarish face he would not forget anytime soon.

Agent Indigo sighed softly and nodded.

Brighid Moreira took over from Azuria.

“Comrade Hero, meet Rack.”

Agent Indigo coughed slightly.

“Well technically Rack is out of jurisdiction. Most of his activities have been confined to the Rogue Isles, International Waters, and contested conflict zones like Siren’s Call and Warburg.”

Azuria glared defiantly at Agent Indigo.

“Rack has murdered a citizen of Paragon City. And you know from his records what Rack is capable of, Agent Indigo. This isn’t the first time he has killed in Paragon City.”

Agent Indigo shifted uncomfortably in her chair.

“Going after Rack in the Rogue Isles could be a major disaster, not to mention a PR opportunity just waiting play into the hands of Lord Recluse.”

“Then we make Rack come to us. If he cannot be persuaded to come back to Paragon City, then we lure him to Bloody Bay, Siren’s Call or Warburg itself.”

Everyone turned to look at the City Representative.

Agent Indigo nodded.

“That’s possible, but we’d need a pretty tempting incentive. Rack’s no fool, we’ve underestimated him before and paid for that dearly.”

Azuria smiled.

“I know what would make that snake crawl out of his rock. Trust me on that.”

The City Representative pressed another button. Information files on Rack appeared on the LCD screens. Most of it compiled by the late Dr. von Susteren.

“I want you to read this Comrade Hero and tell me what you think.”

The files on Rack read like a litany of murder, deceit, and tragedy. Agent Indigo had been right. Rack was certainly no fool. In fact he was almost as dangerous as the Arch-villains that plagued Paragon City and its citizens. Comrade Hero wondered why he had never heard of Rack. And the incident reports explained why. Covert assignments. Black operations. Rack could give Crimson a run for his money.

Comrade Hero slowly looked up from the screen.

“Honestly, I think you have the wrong hero for the job.”