Turn Your Head and Cough

From the Story Arc: The Essence of Life

Previous Story in the Arc: Recall by Krasnaya Zvezda (Sunday, March 21, 2010)

Next Story in the Arc: Back Up To Speed by Krasnaya Zvezda (Saturday, April 03, 2010)

(posted Sunday, March 28, 2010)

(( Written by Krasnaya Zvezda and Victoria Victrix ))

Commissar Belladonna Aura was not being Commissar right now. She had her "Dr. Parker" hat on, and Doc was getting irritated. She'd ordered Red Star--no, Alex--in for a check twice now, and he'd flaked on the appointment twice. One more time and he was going to get Waitron instead. And Bella was going to order Waits to put her spare hands in the freezer first.

She glanced down at her watch, 10 minutes late. She sniffed, and then looked around sick bay for something else to tidy away, all the while letting her mood build up - Bear had been fairly quiet lately, which sure as anything meant he was up to something, and it had been a while since she'd been able to have a good shout at someone. She was beginning to understand why Nat had let loose with her excoriation tirades. They were very cathartic.

Fifteen minutes. There had better be a zombie outbreak going on out there. Or at the minimum, a Fifthzies versus Council match. Otherwise there's going to be Kentucky Fried Commie.

Now twenty minutes had passed and just as Bella was about to order Waitron to start preparing the spare hands, she heard sounds of a conversation echoing down the hallway.

"-- just in my underwear with a gun pointing at him, then he said 'Can I lower my hands yet'!"

Alex's voice was followed by a peal of laughter from Astra. "Lexie, you have the best stories!" she giggled. "I never can tell if they're true or not!"

"Pah, of course they are being true. Would I lie to you, devushka?"

< Yes, > said Kyne, dryly, before Astra could speak. < You are a red dog, and you lie like one, tovarisch. > Astra just giggled again. After years of knowing the twins, Bella no longer had that disorienting feeling when she heard two entirely different voices come out of the same young woman's mouth, but it tended throw strangers off considerably.

"So, I am thinking that we could have got that ice-cream to eat in, instead of take out--we are far too late for medical today." Alex said hopefully.

< No, but on the bright side, you managed to only spill some of the ice-cream on your uniform this time. > Kyne replied.

There was the sound of swearing and then Bella shot around the corner and grabbed Alex's ear in the time-honored tradition of nuns, mothers, and Russian babushkas. "You wish, bacon-breath." She hauled him into the infirmary by that appendage--and never mind that he towered over her by a good head--and slammed and locked the door behind her.

Concentrating as he was on the splodge of chocolate chip ice-cream, nicely defacing the prominent red star on his uniform, the next couple of moments passed in a blue coloured blur of pain. When he began to gain some sense of feeling in his ear, he turned to confront his attacker and then stopped and stared.

"You had better not be thinking of using that on me," Bella said, glowering at his dark-shrouded hands. "Because, tovarisch, if I am not the one to clean your Soviet clock, first, there will be a long, long line forming outside the door to take up where I left off."

Still staring at his commissar, who was standing with her hands on her hips, Alex replied, "Huh?"

"Warshade power, Comrade Sasha."

There was moment of silence, then a voice echoed in their heads, < I believe she's talking to you, comrade... > said Kyne < Is everything ok? > she asked innocently.

"I think Comrade Dim Bulb got startled. Seems he didn't think I'd be lying in wait for him." Bella smiled grimly.

"Oh, you can lie in... " Alex said and then blinked and looked down at his hands. "I mean, yes! Right! Um, yes, commissar!" he said, dispersing the black tendrils gathered around his hands and shaking his head slightly.

With a sharp nod, she turned away and pulled on a pair of latex gloves, snapping them over her wrists suggestively. "Strip. You're going to need a new uniform anyway."

Alex's eyes widened, "Strip? Here? Now?"

She turned back, her eyes, glinting with just a touch of malicious mischief. "I said medical exam. I meant medical exam. Down to the tighty-whities, laddy."

"Ok," said Alex, "Is first dinner to be out of the question?" he asked weakly.

"Dinner? Probably not. But if you are a very good boy and don't cry when you get your shots, there might be a lollipop."

"Heh, spasibo." Alex said as he turned around and started to remove his cloak, muttering quietly to himself as he did so.

Bella was not as heartless as she was making herself out to be. And he certainly wasn't going to get a "standard Soviet military" exam, which was one step short of corporal punishment. "Davay, davay, neither of us have all day," she said, grabbing that lovely new Autodoc and starting to pull out all the sensor arms. But she really wanted to get good readings and you couldn't do that through cloth.

Having finally divested himself of his uniform, Alex turned around, holding the clothes as if he was a lion tamer holding a chair before a lion. Despite the fact that the infirmary was climate controlled and set to a comfortable temperature, Alex seemed to have developed a nice set of goose-bumps.

"Oh for crying out loud--" Bella snatched the uniform out of his hands and, with a practiced "shot", tossed it over her head and into the waiting laundry shute. "Waits, I'll need one of Zvezda's uniforms," she said into the pickup on her collar, and reached forward to push him onto the exam table, as she had done a hundred times with other reluctant comrades. Just as her hand was about to touch him, he began to flinch but she was moving too quickly and gave him a good, hard shove of encouragment.

The second her hand touched Alex, Bella became aware of an ongoing mental conversation involving her god-daughter, Kyne and Alex.

< This is the stuff of which porn films are made, Lexie, > Kyne leered.

< Shut up!! > Alex thought frantically and tried to turn his thoughts towards puppies and flowers.

< You could at least kiss her, > teased Astra. < I bet she'd like--oops. Um, sorry Aunt Bella. > Astra's mental "presence" vanished in a cloud of mingled amusement and embarassment.

< Nice try, now just go away and leave me alone! Oh, and maybe if you'd told me she was this stunning I would have turned up on time! > Alex threw his final thoughts after Astra and tried to think about the icefields of Siberia.

Bella was torn between letting him know she'd overheard, and keeping quiet about it, but opted for the latter. "Just sit, Alex. I need to attach this crud so I can get good readings on you," she said, far more gently than she had intended. Stunning. He thought she was stunning. She hadn't thought of herself as attractive--or not in that way--in a long, long time.

"Da, commissar." Alex said and, taking a deep breath, closed his eyes.

She worked quickly and briskly, and the "attachments" were nothing more than sticky pads, it wasn't as if she was sticking spikes in him. "The last time I saw you was in the last stages of the Council invasion of this very building," she said, deciding that the best thing to do would be to steer his thoughts far, far away from anything...personal. "Do you recall any of that?"

"I am have some flashes--glimpses of memories but do not recall much after bonding with Red Star." Alex answered, thinking about nice, cold, glaciers. "There is very little I can remember of this country and city. There are some people I remember, or recognise, but apart from knowing I know them, they could be strangers to me."

"That is...unexpected." And awkward, she thought. She spoke into the pickup. "Waits, I need a summary file for Alex, from the time he arrived at CCCP HQ to now. We seem to have a memory wipe to deal with." She turned away to fiddle with the controls of the autodoc, aware that she was feeling just a bit warm. She frowned a moment, looking at the EEG trace. There should have been two traces, one the human, one the Kheldian; after having so many fusions and partners in and out of her hands, she could read the things like one of Vickie's novels. There was only one trace, the human. Which meant one of two things. Either Red Star was so fully suppressed that she was, in essence, in a coma--

--or she was gone.

"Spasibo, commissar, that is being very kind." Alex opened his eyes, smiling and had a nice view of the commissar bent over the autodoc; her long shapely legs, clad in the tight fitting uniform - which was very flattering - led up to her perfectly formed... He gulped and quickly shut his eyes again. Deep, dark glaciers with little trickles of running water.

Now fully involved with her readings, which seemed to be spiking a little, Bella was utterly oblivious to anything else. She told the computer-assisted system to screen out the human conscious traces and boost up everything else on the EEG, while continuing to take the rest of the vitals. She didn't pay a whole lot of attention to anything else other than to note they were the readouts of a healthy...very healthy...vital young man.

Let's see what did he know about glaciers... Glaciers had pockets of water - which helped them move - and these pockets were honey-combed all through the glacial field. Besides water, glaciers had quite a few stones and other bits of detritus in them which they picked up whilst moving over land as they made their way towards the sea.

Bella shook her head. This stuff was going to need a lot of intense analysis, but there was no point in keeping poor Alex sitting there shivering any longer. She could spend the rest of the evening looking it over in more detail. The important part was that he was in top physical shape. In fact, the only person she had ever known that was in that good a condition was Zach...

Nowadays, quite a few glaciers were collapsing into the oceans, becoming lost forever in that wide expanse of deep blue water, water that looked the same colour as the commissars skin. It was such a lovely colour - and so unique - Alex couldn't recall seeing it's like anywhere before. Could that be why she was so lovely? Well no, she was very, very pretty as well. He hadn't seen much of her eyes, but saying they caught your attention would be an understatment! He could stare into those eyes all day, running his fingers through her hair and then, maybe, leaning in for a quick k--

She spoke into the pickup at her collar before she could choke up. "Waits, bring in that uniform and that summary for Alex, would you? We're through here."

Alex sat bolt upright, staring with a fixed expression at the far wall.

"On my way, Commissar." The bot must have been right outside the door. She trotted briskly in, metal high heels tapping on the tile floor, her hips moving in a way that was both uncannily human and unnervingly inhuman. "Here you are, Comrade Star," she said, shoving the pile of clothing at him, "blind" eyes staring at him as she tilted her head to the side. "Your respiration and heartrate seem a little high, sorry if I startled you." She opened a slitted compartment on her thigh and extracted a mini-hard-drive from it. "And this should bring you up to date. It's basically a summary, with as much video as I could locate, of everything you did or were involved with or was important to the city or CCCP and you would have known about, from the time you arrived until the time you emerged from that cave." Since his hands were full, and his mouth a little open, she stuck it between his teeth. "I would not advise biting down on it. It is hardened against a great deal and you would probably break an incisor."

"Mmrphrero." Alex mumbled, placing the clothes on his lap and then extracing the min-hard-drive from his mouth. "Spasibo" he repeated.

"And here is your reward for being good," Bella said. sticking a lollipop into his mouth. She smiled at him, "See? That wasn't so bad, now, was it? All that avoiding me for nothing. If you need me, I'll be in my office."

Trying hard not to swallow the lollipop, Alex stared after her as she left the Infirmary. That image stayed with him as he got to his feet and arranged his clothes; his final view of the commissar, her hair flowing behind her as she walked out of the door--also there was that image of her smile, oh and the other image where she was bent over the autodoc--and this was not a good thing to be thinking, she was his commanding officer and no good would come of anything - not that anything could happen in the first place! He shook his head; doomed, he was completely doomed. Sighing, he began putting his clothes back on.

By the time he'd finished pulling his boots on Alex's mood had improved and, saying goodbye to Waitron, he set off to find out what else Astra hadn't told him about Commissar Belladonna Parker.