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From the Story Arc: WCO Report: Operation Black Lotus

Previous Story in the Arc: Walkabout by Chug (Wednesday, April 13, 2005)

Next Story in the Arc: Status Report 3588-C "Operation: Black Lotus" by Chug (Wednesday, August 24, 2005)

(posted Monday, April 18, 2005)

People's Blade sighed deeply looking at the stack of paperwork before her. Despite spending over an hour of diligent effort, it seemed as if she had made little progress. Quietly, the thought of taking her blade to the stacks of the bureaucratic torture implements before her bore some humor to her droll situation.

"Fei Li!" Suddenly People's Blade was snapped away from her simple fantasy. Soviette had burst through the door of her office gasping, "You have to come to the garden right now. Chug is here!"

Minutes later both Soviette and People's Blade stood in the small garden out in the back of CCCP headquarters. Among the drab urban landscape, the small patch of grass, flower beds, and a lone tall parasol tree, planted at People's Blade insistence, appeared as an odd oasis from the clutter and garbage of the city. Sitting on the lush grass was a hulking figure with its legs spread. People's Blade and Soviette quietly walked around the figure to face it. Its shoulders were slumped forward. Its odd, chunky fingers and hands intently rolling a small yellow ball back and forth on the grass in a silent game.

"Comrade Chug?", said People's Blade. "You have returned."

It looked up at them both, its dark soft eyes flashed with some recognition, but that was all. "Hullo."

Soviette approached and gently put her hand on his shoulder. "Are you well, comrade?" Her voice muted with some strain at the next question. "Have you been hurt?"

Chug quickly drew his shoulder away from Soviette's hand. "I dun wanna talk about it."

"Comrade Chug," Fei Li stepped forward, "Where have you been? What happened to you all this time?

"I dun wanna talk about it."

"Comrade," continued Fie Li, "I am your commissar. You are a good worker for the people and a good hero for CCCP. Your commissar has asked you to answer. Please, where have you been. And what happened to you when you left us?"

Chug tightened up, drawing its knees to its chest. "I dun wanna talk about it."

"Comrade Chug!" People's Blade began to snap with authority, "How can you suddenly become so brash and disregard an order from your commissar? Again, tell me what happened."

"No..."

Fei Li's jaw dropped. Since her time she had been an officer with CCCP, Chug had never ignored a request. Something that Red Menace had urged her to do once they had met. The comment echoed over her mind as Red Menace spoke looking at her with his dark face and piercing eyes, "Treat Chug as you would a child. At times, sternly, if needed. But he will always comply if you speak to him as one in authority."

People's Blade stepped forward, her brow narrowed, "Comrade!"

Soviette placed her had in Fei Li's forearm and shook her head. "He will speak when he is ready, I think, Fei Li." Soviette walked away, "I think it best to get him back into a normal routine, but lets not push him into answering what happened just yet."

"Chug," People's Blade knelt down before him, "I think it would be good for you to come with us today and patrol the city. There are still many bad people that need to be arrested. They prey on the weak and the good workers. Will you come with us?"

"No." Chug shook his head with determination. "I wanna go to the park and see da squirrels and da birds and talk to Mr. Tree. I miss him lots."

People's Blade shot a distressed look at Soviette. Soviette shook her head and mouthed, "Don't push."

"How about tonight?," Fei Li continued, "Will you come with us tonight? Many of us were worried about you Chug. And we would feel better with you helping us again."

Chug quickly stood up and paced away. "Okiez," he said looking over his shoulder. "I go to park first. Den I come back."

"Comrade Chug," Fei Li stood up squarely next to Soviette. "After spending time in the park return at 1800." She stopped quickly. "After the park, Chug." She continued speaking slowly, "return to the headquarters before it gets dark."

"Okiez." Chug began to run off and stopped suddenly. Its broad frame sagged, and in a moment, turned, and bounded towards the two women. Before either could react, he clasped the women in his arms and buried his small face between their shoulders. A muffled voice emitted from between the women. "Chug miss you all lots."

In an instant he released them and leapt off high into the air, bounding over the decrepit high rise apartments.

"This," sighed People's Blade, "is certainly a strange turn of events. Please monitor Chug and report back to me if he expresses any further abnormal behavior or will speak of what happened to him."

"I am afraid," she sighed, "that as commissar I must continue logistical endeavors. I must return to my paperwork." She strode into the headquarters with some steely resolve, that tonight she would take out all the pent up rage from this afternoon's servitude to bureaucratic matters on decadent criminals.

Soviette stood in the garden listening to the bustle of the afternoon traffic with her hand shielding her eyes from the bright sun. She stared at the diminishing figure making high, gentle arcs in the sky, leaping from rooftop to rooftop. She dropped her hand, began to walk up the steps to the aging building that CCCP deemed as its headquarters. She stopped and turned once more to look at the fleeting figure. "Welcome home, Chug," she whispered and stepped inside.