Gratuity

From the Story Arc: In the Service of the Revolutionary Tradition

Previous Story in the Arc: Vivisections and ice cream by Communard (Thursday, May 05, 2005)

Next Story in the Arc: Leadership by Communard (Wednesday, July 13, 2005)

(posted Tuesday, May 17, 2005)

"Exxxxcoriation," Red Saviour drew out the first syllable with satisfaction, watching while Communard winced. The commissar leaned over the desk and poked him in the chest, "You, comrade, are on the brink! One more mistake, one more report of deviant behavior and you will make the ultimate sacrifice."

Communard stared back at her blankly. Other, less mature CCCP members would have no doubt offered up excuses or protested their innocence. Not Communard. He knew what the situation demanded. "Comrade commissar," he groveled, "Forgive me! I...I...I did not mean to leave Comrade Shuma stranded in Brickstown, it was just that we were ambushed. I was going to go back for her, but..."

"Quiet!" Red Saviour punched a hole in her desk. "You have been warned comrade, now getout!"

"Yes comrade commissar! The proletariat of Paragon City are lucky to have you as their protector comrade commissar!" Communard backed out of her office quickly, saluted, and closed the door.

Communard left CCCP headquarters and walked towards the train. "I can't think when I fly," he muttered to himself. The sun was setting, but in King's Row all Communard could see was the fading light on the clouds between the tenements. Twenty minutes later he arrived at Bianchi, a small Italian restaurant in Founder's Falls. Alfonsus, the owner, welcomed him, "Your friend is here, Communard. He's waiting for you out back." Communard nodded, "Bring us some veal Alfonsus."

Communard entered a small dining room. "Greetings Professor Tempest, please do not get up. I am pleased that you have agreed to meet me." Tempest picked a small piece of lint off his starched shirt. "Of course, Communard, my interest in phrenology dictates that I help you. What is the situation?" Communard poored himself a glass of Chianti, drained it, and poored himself another. Tempest pushed his glass forward with one finger. Communard filled it halfway and continued to drink heavily from his own glass as he talked.

"As always, comrade, your discretion is appreciated. My situation is a difficult one.
You are familiar with my recent experiments on Chug?" Tempest nodded and looked for a waitress. "Well," Communard continued, "I left out a few details from the article I
published in _Parapsychology Researcher_. "The telemetry from the nanoprobes," Communard took another drink, "Is now originating seven miles off the coast of Paragon City in eight hundred feet of water--and the power of the psychometric transmissions is increasing."

"And what of Chug?"

Communard shrugged. "He is about the same, the data are inconclusive."

"What is the opinion of your colleauges?"

"Non!" Communard choked briefly. "I cannot reveal anything to them!"

A waitress arrived with two plates of veal, some bread, and another carafe of wine.

Communard began to eat quickly. He talked while he ate and his bottem lip gleamed
with a thing film of saliva and veal juice. "I need your help Professor Tempest. I need to find the source of those transmissions or find out a way to forget about them!"

Alfonsus entered the room. "Ah, forgive me gentlemen. Communard, Red Savior and another hero, Untermensch I believe, are here. They are asking for you." Communard gasped, then began drinking water and rubbing his teeth with his fingers. Alfonsus and Tempest watched, and Tempest thought he saw a look of disgust briefly cross Alfonsus's face.

Communard stood up. "I must go, my friends. Duty calls." He left quickly.

Professor Tempest returned to his veal. Alfonsus cleared his throat and set a small dish on the table. "The check, sir."