This Ain't Your Father's Party, Son.

From the Story Arc: Volgograd on the Adams

Next Story in the Arc: Everything Right Is Wrong Again by Krasniy Oktyabr (Thursday, June 23, 2005)

(posted Saturday, September 25, 2004)

It is one this to serve your country and forward its glorious struggle. It is yet another to face those government officials that care not what you wish to do.

I stare at this man, hiding all my contempt for the runabout spewing from him. In my defense, his contempt is plainly in view to all. He is merely doing his job, I say to myself over and over as he looks over my dossier, like a man looking over a restaurant menu after having just eaten lunch at home but not wanting to offend his host.

Please forgive if these writings ramble a bit. My mind was a jumble of thoughts at this time, and the main reason for that was resting at my side in a large briefcase. This was my inheritance, my legacy, my future. The official cared not about such things. He cared about his duties, as any good worker should. He did not care for young upstarts who disrupted his daily routine. All in all, I can't blame him. And so I stood at rigorous attention, awaiting judgment. For his part, the Minister drummed his fingers as he read and looked thoroughly bored already.

"Aleksandr Pyotr Stanislav," he said at last, not bothering to look up. I drew myself further in attention, if that was at all possible. "Above average marks in scholastics--though nothing to brag about--as well as merit awards in track and field activities. Following this is paramilitary training, one year completed. Ah, a drop out." The officious man in his severe suit paused and stared at me intently. "Not stellar by any stretch, nor a waste of resources. Why are you here?"

This, in its own way, catches me slightly off guard. This was the People's Department for Paranormal Services. Even though this was not emblazoned anywhere to be seen, simply being in this office meant that I knew what it was and why I was indeed here. But one must obey superiors, and so I did.

"Comrade Commisar, I present myself for service in the name of the Socialist Republic..." Damn, my nervousness betrays me as I let this colloquialism slip. I continue without pause, knowing it does not slip the Minister's notice. "...and wish to defend Her against the rise of oppression from villainous elements."

"Villainous elements?" the Minister all but laughed. "Are you suggesting Mother Russia cannot handle her own affairs in this matter?"

"No, sir, I was merely offering..."

"Your offer, has been long known to us, Comrade Stanislav. It has been reviewed carefully, and not to put too fine a point on it, found wanting."

"But sir," I protested. My ire was rising, but still controlled. "The recommendations from my grandfather must carry some weight."

The official began massaging his temples, shaking his head. "Your grandfather was a great man, yes. But he was a hero of a different age. A cape, a cowl, some fighting prowess and a few fancy gadgets were all that was required of a hero..."

I fought the urge to argue this point. While it was true my grandfather never told me of the powers--if any--he had, it could not be denied that the gloves now in my possession were a technological marvel. Even in my cursory examination of them, it was clear that this Amerikanskii, The Electric Knight, was a foe not easily subdued.

While these thoughts raged through my head, the official has continued on with his denouncements. I chided myself for losing focus.

"...and to top it all off, it remains unclear to me how Mother Russia could benefit from the softness of a Menshevik family..."

This, unfortunately, is where I lost my remaining temperance. Political rifts had torn my family apart for years. While it was true my grandmother was Menshevik--as are, to a much smaller extent, Mother and I--and resulted in many arguments between my grandparents, their love proved stronger and without his help Gran would have not survived the Kronstadt rebellion or Stalin's Purges.
In short, I blew up.

"I will not listen to these lies!" I shouted, knowing I had just doomed any chance of acceptance. "My family has been strongly Bolshevik! Any records the People have show this! You are denying my Grandfather's..."

I got no further, for this is when the Minister pounded his fist on his desk. a line had been crossed, and we both knew it.

"Stop dragging that man into this!" the Minister bellowed in return. "I am more aware of Pyotr Fyordor Stanislav's activities than what an old man will tell his grandchildren! He has provided valuable services to the Republic through its many incarnations, yes. But I will not allow you to continually drag his good name in to cover for your failings!"

I stood there stunned. The Minister sat back into his chair, his face void of emotion.

"Get out of my office," were his last words to me.

I could only obey.

I gathered my belongings and walked back into the waiting room, unable to keep my shoulders from slumping just a little. I crossed in front of the Sub-Minister's desk, and was a bit surprised when he stood up and saluted. I never belonged to the People's Army, I had no rank. But thanks to the instructions of paramilitary school, I saluted anyway. The Sub-Minister dropped the salute and extended his hand. "Better luck next time, Comrade Stanislav," he offered.

I grasped his hand, and the Sub-Minister drew me closer, leaning over his desk. "I heard all that transpired, comrade," he added, lowering his voice. "Be expecting further communication." With that, the Sub-Minister sat down again and went about his business. Not knowing if this was a positive or negative situation, I went about my business--namely, returning to my apartment, opening a bottle of pepper vodka and sorting out the day's events the old fashioned way.

It was later that week that I found a manila envelope pushed under the door, after returning from my daily run. The envelope held four things. First, a sealed document declaring "OFFICIAL SOVIET REPUBLIC PARANORMAL ACTIVITIES PERMIT - FOR PCDSA EYES ONLY". Second, an extended work visa. Third, a sheet of paper with a list of names and contact information. And last, a one-way airline ticket to Paragon City, USA.

I packed in record time.

Entry One; Additional

What followed these events was a whirlwind of activity from the moment I stepped off my final flight. Customs, inspections, forms, permits, more forms, and of course, Superhero Registration. The sealed packet was inspected, stamped, and filed. In its place came a Paragon City Hero registration card. My uniform (my "costume", those ignorant Amerikanskii called it) was similarly treated, minus the filing.

And then it was off in a monorail especially for arriving Heroes that deposited us in a small city zone to familiarize us with what is expected as heroes. Not to mention struggling in the service of the City, fighting back against an outbreak and those it affected.

And it was glorious! I had never used the gloves in a real combat situation, nor had I every fought any crime, but the ease which I found myself in was almost intoxicating. This gave me pause when I realized what was going on. Not one day arrived, and I had already given in to American excesses. I must be stronger than that!

And now I sit in a park nearby the government building where my first contact, one Caitlin Murray, is waiting for me. The sun is going down over the large energy barriers of Atlas Park. I finally take a moment to survey my situation. Alone in a park in a strange city--an Amerkanskii city-- with nowhere to go and knowing no one. Yet, am not worried. I have a chance to fulfill Grandfather's ambitions for me, and to prove myself valuable to my country and its Struggle.

It's getting dark quickly. I will find a hotel and start fresh in the morning. It's been one Ad of a week.