A wolf in sheep's clothing?

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

Previous Story in the Arc: Meeting Althea by Home World (Tuesday, May 10, 2005)

Next Story in the Arc: Three Suspicions by Red Saviour (Wednesday, May 11, 2005)

(posted Wednesday, May 11, 2005)

Zachary loosened his tie and unbuttoned his jacket. He had just come from a meeting of the "Rebuild Paragon Congress", a loose affiliation of super-groups in the city. Following a rather nasty jibe from Fei Li, ("You are going to a meeting of homeless people?") he had swung by Icon and picked up some more "appropriate" attire to befit a Commissar of the CCCP. Zach's fashion sense remained the weakest of his sklls, which explained why he wore his official uniform as often as possible. The less he had to think about his clothes, the better.

As he struggled to feel comfortable in his suit, a stern voice cracked over the communicator. "Privyet Zachary!!!" Zach let out an audilbe sigh, and his slumping shoulders indicated he knew what was coming next. Natalya was back in town, and Nat loved nothing more than giving orders.

Sure enough, his prescience was right on target. "Come to Kings Row, I am needing you to meet new CCCP personnel!" Zach opened his mouth to respond. After all, he was exhausted, he was cranky, and it was almost time for "Judge Joe Brown". But Zach quickly did the math, comparing the value of getting into an argument with Red Saviour over his desire to vegetate, and he knew the response. "I'lm on my way." Zach might be lazy, but he was lazy about his laziness.

Zach hopped on the train to Kings Row. He hadn't brought any reading material, and no one had taken his hints about needing an Ipod, so to pass the time, he opened up the files on these new recruits. One of them was some sort of mute, communicating in only roars and growls. "Great, I love playing charades!", he said sarcastically.

Another was some sort of electrical oddity from Chernobyl, another in the long string of people affected by the strange radiation from the disaster. "Well, I guess we won't have to worry about the milk going bad anymore. Luckily I'm already green so I don't have anything to worry about."

The final entry was very brief. "Althea Nagy is descended from a line of hereditary Transylvanian vampire hunters stretching back to the 11 century...." Zach, stopped reading after that. An avowed TV addict, Zach was delighted. "OUR VERY OWN BUFFY!!!", he delightedly thought to himself. Images of a strong-willed, magic wielding vampire-hunter jumped into his mind, he found himself genuinely excited. "The Vampyr's bettter watch out, we've got ourselves a specialist!"

Zach bounded across the rooftops to Natalya's location. As he got closer, his keen eyes picked out the new recruits. One of the recruits was hunched over and growling. Easy to figure which one that was. Another had electricity rippling up and down his arms. Again, Zach's brilliant powers of deduction figured out his identitiy. By process of elimination, the ghostly pale woman standing next to Red Saviour must be the Vampire Hunter. Zach took one final leap and landed next to them.

"Hey there Nat, got some fresh meat for the CCCP?"

"Zachary, am pleased to be runniing these recruits through training exercises. And am liiking your suit!!!" Zach's face flushed green, and he embarassadely looked at his wrinkled suit and loosened tie. Quickly, he changed the subject. "Who do we have here?"

The Vampire Hunter was not acted as he expected. People had varying reactions upon meeting Zach, but unless Zach was trying to scare them, rarely did they tremble in fear. But the pale girl was clearly trembling. Looking back and forth between Zach and Natalya.

At first, Zach thought his fear powers might have been malfunctioning, but looking around he saw no tell-tale cloud, and none of the other recruits appeared to be afflicted with fear. Zach extended his hand, "Commissar Bestial Boy, pleased to meet you." The girl extended a trembling hand...."Ah.....another Commissar!!!!....err......Althea Nagy....err....sir!" Althea looked to Red Saviour pleadingly.

Natalya seemed to ignore this reaction entirely. Not surprising, really, as she was a major celebrity in Russian and eastern europeans tended to act like they were meeting Julia Roberts when they encountered her. But people didn't react this way to Zach, especially not hardened Vampire Hunters who had, in the words of her dossier, "petitioned the authorities to allow her to continue her hunt in Paragon City".

"So, you are a vampire hunter, Althea?", Zach asked , making as kindly a face as he could. "Er.....Da.....", stammered Althea, again nervously looking to Natalya for support, "have you seen any Vampires recently?" Somenow, her answer suggested that if he answered yes she would wet herself.

Something was up. Either this girl was intentionally acting oddly, or she was scared out of her boots to be there. Zach decided to do a little research back at the office. He finished introducing himself to the other recruits, giving a return growl to the less than talkative fellow, and excused himself. Whatever was going on, Red Saviour didn't seem to be aware of it. Zach knew who might be able to sort this out though...