Final Report to Moscow

(posted Saturday, August 21, 2004)

[encrypted message in Russian begins]
Message: 858180155
Encryption keyphrase: black green red
Encryption key:  bbc.co.uk  Rower the fourth the
To:  Commissariat of Superhero Affairs, Moscow



Comrade Worker's-Cha...


Ah hell.  I don't even know who I'm writing this to.  Either you're up to some subterfuge playing dead, in which case this might do some good in sending.  Or you're really dead, in which case I'm writing to sort out my own thoughts.  And I have to tell you I'm not doing very well at the latter.  I'm confused, angry, and hurt that I missed what is happening.   It's all falling apart, Ivan:  everything we've worked for.  And I... I feel like I'm being ripped apart -- I'm not sure who to trust here; and I certainly know who *not* to trust back home.


I suppose it will help me order things to tell you -- if there is a 'you' -- where I've been.  I was on a fairly routine mission with several CCCP and RB comrades when we were joined by a young lady named "Lucy Barlow".  A fair fighter and capable she seemed, but wild in her spine-enhanced attacks.  I put force bubbles on everyone else to protect them, but as you know I cannot protect myself, and in the climatic battle she was thrown into me.  A spine penetrated my glove and only minutes later I collapsed from poisoning.


And only this morning I awoke in the hospital.  IT'S BEEN TWO WEEKS!  TWO WEEKS IVAN!   The doctors told me the story of my accidental poisoning.  Why did you not send someone?  So much has happened!  I should forgive you -- apparently you have had much on your hands.


After awakening I played the usual sweet old lovely grandmother routine with the doctors and nurses. "Oh, it's so kind of you to treat the elderly with such care!"  I knew almost nothing.  Several comrades had been on occasional visits.  The nurses had taken polaroids of each and hung them beside the bed, as a way to comfort me.  (Strangely, one of them I do not recognize.  I have taken that photograph for later investigation.)


The nurses told me that the CCCP had suspected foul play and had posted comrades as guards outside my room, but strangely that precaution had only lasted a day.  The the guard shifts ended abruptly a few days ago, as have all the visits.  I knew I had to get out of that hospital and find out what was happening.  But..not knowing who in comrades I could trust, I had to do it without the aide of CCCP and Red Brigade.  Fortunately I have helped a doctor here in Paragon City -- he owed me a very large favor, and he was happy to play my 'personal physician' long enough to get me out of the hospital with few questions asked.  I departed his company and set out to find status of projects and team.


I started with what I could find publicly, searching the CCCP website and city newspaper archives.  Most importantly the tap you had had me install at CCCP headquarters security cameras.  [Oh, did I forget to mention I had added a private backdoor for my own use?]  Then I learn how very much wrong things have gone in two weeks.


First, Projects Bestla and Gangrene have returned to Moscow.  I did urge you to leave them here -- do you know what Mojiotok will do when he discovers his son has been 'altered'?!?  And now with you gone that seems a certainty... but... I get ahead of myself.   Bestla was our best subject yet - the only purposely-created superhero who showed any signs of being controllable.   The only project we didn't have to abort.  I tell you, Worker's Champion, each of those aborted projects was little different to me than a miscarriage -- years spent training a pupil, raising a project... like a child, Ivan.  These were our children.


Red Bear...Ivan...Red Bear I raised since he was born.  I have never had real children -- did you know that?  But because I am all icy exterior and hard scientist, you think I have never heard the call of the Mother?  It is no different, no different what we did for them.  It is, in fact, why I chose my name "Mother Siberia" when coming to America.   "A dangerous play on words", you said.  "They will never suspect, comrade," I replied, quite correctly.


Red Bear was just a baby when we started the project.  You think my eyes remained dry when I heard him cry from the pain of the injections?  Did we have the right to put him through that?  Yes, spare me the argument that he would have died otherwise:   we could have stopped the treatments after the First Phase.   When he fell down stairs at the age of two and gashed open his leg, did you think I was an impassionate scientist holding him down fast to the operating table as they stitched him up?  I felt every suture.  I still feel every suture.


And when they took him away from me for Phase Three, I felt the same pain a real mother would feel.  I was sick for two months -- did you ignore that?  "Why did you take my Little Bear away?"  I hated you.  I have never hated you more than that day.  I am still hating you for that -- to hell with your Cause, to hell with the Coming Fight, to hell with the Ends justifying the Means.   Even now that you are most probably dead and gone, I cannot forgive you for that.


And when Project Red Bear flamed out, did I not hear that voice calling?  Though he was 14, I saw him as if he were six.   A sweet six year old trying to please all the white-coated adults around him -- so anxious he was to make us happy!  They said Underground Storage Facility #4 had gone up in an accidental explosion.  Bah!   We knew what had caused that crater.  Another of our dead children.   Have you counted the small coffins, Ivan?  I have.  I do every night.  I see all fourteen there, I see all our children, our young heroes.  No, fifteen; I shall dream of fifteen tonight.


[hr]


There.  I found an abandoned warehouse I could use.  The preceding paragraphs were coded two hours ago.  I was unable to continue.  I found a quiet place where no one could hear me and wonder, "what agony can that be?"


I know what tears at me now.   When you were here, directing the projects, I could always place the blame on you.  "It is Worker's Champion's mad plan that drives this", I could say to myself.  "What choice do I have?  If I were not here, he'd find another.  And one not so well qualified, one that could result in many more deaths".  I could excuse myself.  I fooled myself into thinking of how many lives I'd be saving by keeping your urgency, your driving need for success, under patient control.


But now you're gone.  My convenient excuse has evaporated.  I cannot place the decisions on your broad shoulders. I cannot say, "I do this only because I am ordered by Worker's Champion."  And I know there are some more panicked -- and certainly less scrupulous -- than you.  In hindsight, you too were a governor to slow down the project.  If you are truly gone, I fear what the others will do to accelerate the project.


[hr]


Now, on the slim chance you truly do live, I should give you an update on what I know.  And, as I said, doing so will let me sort things out myself.


Red Saviour and Red Menace have gone missing.  I do not know if they are dead.  In the power vacuum that resulted, the operator of ICBM has seized power at CCCP-America.  Why did you not replace the suit's operator years ago, when we knew this one was growing unstable?  I have had thoughts of trying to disable the suit myself, except in surveillance I see he has changed the security codes and placed able snipers on the roof.  I dare not go near -- it would be too convenient for his plans to have a rival official "shot by accident".  It's already apparent that he intends to take out Red Saviour this way.   Viktor on the other hand is very hard to kill; I wonder where he is?


ICBM's operator has dissolved Red Brigade and I do not know where People's Blade has gone.  For once I hope her fantasies of being a reincarnated warlord are actually true.  I dare not contest ICBM and CCCP-America's new, purged leader with no power base to back me up; she however may have sufficient backing from her Red Brigade comrades that she will not fall quite so easily.


[hr]


And now, it comes down to what I do next.  I cannot return to CCCP-America.  I cannot trust that your old enemies in the Commisarriat will not use this opportunity to clean house, so I cannot return to Russia openly.   I will use our backup plan -- though submarine travel is slow.


Curse you for dying, Ivan!  "Lab Explosion", hah.  We all know what really exploded, Worker's Champion.  The last in a long line of experiments, the hope of the future.  Another of our children dead, but this time Bestla takes her figurative father with her.  Does that make me a widow?   Does it make me the Mother of the Frozen Barren Wastes, where no children sing and only the polar bear hunts?   The sad Snow Queen, whose veins run with ice water, who feels no pain.


What hope is there now?


[end encrypted message]