Got the Red Blues

From the Story Arc: There's No Place Like Home

Previous Story in the Arc: First Letter Home by Althea Nagy (Sunday, May 08, 2005)

Next Story in the Arc: Got the Red Blues by Althea Nagy (Tuesday, May 10, 2005)

(posted Tuesday, May 10, 2005)

Althea sat cross-legged on her bed in her room, hugging the Hello Kitty toy to her chest, and thinking. It was her first oportunity to think in a week. She had once thought that university studies were exhausting. She hadn't then known what "exhausting" really was.

That first day here, being rushed through one grueling, frightening task after another, had set the standard. She had (thank the saints!) been left alone to run several training missions alone on the second day---very hard work, they were, but nothing like that petrifying experience in Skyway City with the creatures she now knew were called "Devouring Earth." In between missions she had been studying books and records, mostly at the M.A.G.I. office, because it was quieter than CCCP headquarters, and because she most emphatically did NOT want Commissar Red Savious to remember her existance. Dear sants, there were so many deadly things here! And so many ways to die....

She had been told by the trainers how to "team" but most of the people she had encountered had not been very good at it, and she had found it easier to undertake missions alone. She had been studying again when ---horrors---the Commissar ordered her to report to meet more comrades. And she had disgraced herself again with her startled reactions to some of those comrades.

She knew she had a great fault with concentrating on only one thing at a time. And she should not have been so---so stupidly frightened. There were hundreds of strange looking "heroes" in and out of Atlas Park all the time, and she should have been paying attention and getting used to that---but she had been concentrating on training and studying and must have shut them right out of her mind, because she had made a fool of herself, not once, but several times. A person would have thought she was an ignorant Amerikanski teenager with no politeness and no thoughts but pop stars. She had surely embarassed her comrades, and most surely the Commissar.

The Commissar, who had taken her aside and spoken to her, not about her disgraceful behavior, but asking commonplace things. Then asking if her room was suitable, THEN revealing that the Hello Kitty was from her!

Considerate, even kind, and surely at that point regretting such kindnesses to such an ignorant little fool!

She felt her cheeks burning with shame, knowing by now that blushing, two red patches forming on her now unnaturally white skin, made her look exactly like a clown. Which was probably what the Commissar thought she was. A clown, and not a funny one, either.

Surely by now scathing reports were on the way back to the Central Committee.

But how can anyone live up to the file they have on me?

If she had been one of the Great Hunters, like Vladimir Nagy, maybe. They clearly knew every spell in that brass-and-iron-bound grimoire by heart. Despite studying it until her eyes felt like they were bleeding, she had yet to master more than half a dozen or so.

Even those of the same secuirty level as she were so much better at this---that little fourteen-year-old from China, for instance. She had gone to hospital twice just trying to get to a mission, and he had soared through it all like a fierce little hawk.

And yet---these other missions, not the "training" that the Commissar had taken her on, where she always managed to muck up somehow, but the others---she was gaining security levels, she was completing many of these missions alone---

What to think?

Perhaps the Commissar wanted her gone, too, just as badly as Thea wanted to be gone. Perhaps the attention and the training was so that she could send back those scathing reports, hoping the Central Committee would recall this inconvenient and incompetent vampire hunter. And by now, the second and third of the Commissars, the ones called "Bestial Boy" and "People's Blade" had seen her fall on her nose repeatedly in failure, so there would be more reports backng the story up.

Perhaps she was soon to be sent home in disgrace.

Perhaps---perhaps it would be worth it.