The Final Straw

From the Story Arc: Sometimes the Mask Comes Off

Previous Story in the Arc: Questions of a Weary Mind by October Star II (Tuesday, June 07, 2005)

Next Story in the Arc: Breaking Point by October Star II (Wednesday, June 08, 2005)

(posted Tuesday, June 07, 2005)

“You will tell me where your superiors have taken Althea Nagy, or you will suffer greatly!” October Star hauled the limp Council Marksman up by his battle harness and brought him within an inch of the raging hero’s face. “I am loosing my patience very quickly!” Flecks of spittle spattered the facist’s face, as Alexei growled from between gritted teeth.

“Comrade, he is out. He can tell you nothing.” Sturmfront placed his hand on Star’s shoulder. “Leave him. I see an Archon in position on the building over there.” He pointed through the haze at a brick warehouse a few hundred yards east of their position. “Let us see what he knows.”

Alexei nodded and dropped the unconscious soldier. A hard kick in the ribs made certain he would not get back up. He cracked his knuckles and his gauntlets began to glow. “For his sake, it had better be much.” October Star kicked off from the ground and swiftly glided over.
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“Do you want to get our capes? It would be fun to do it together.” Thea’s smile and playful attitude was infectious. Her shyness had seemingly melted away, if only with Alexei. “Unless you have something more important to do.”

October Star smiled. His new CCCP uniform was in the box, but they had both agreed it would look better with a cape. “More important than you?” He laughed out loud. “I cannot think of anything that would be.” She smiled and blushed. “Bozshe”, he thought to himself. How he loved that smile.

“We are still having picnic, tomorrow da?” Thea’s face lit up, he voice musical with happiness. “I have very special meal planned to go with the Black Currant wine you are bringing.”

“Da. Tomorrow will be very special.” His hand went to pocket casually; just to make sure the small box was still there. He smiled at her, his eyes never leaving hers. “Very special.”

She had laughed when he suggested a race to City Hall. He knew she had gotten very comfortable with her teleportation, but he had recently upgraded his thrusters and was dying to see how they performed.

Alexei had laughed when he got to the station, and didn’t see her there. After a few minutes he began to suspect she beat him there and was waiting in Atlas. When she wasn’t there or at city hall, he began to grow worried. Her GPS had disconnected from his and his communicator showed her to not be on duty. Where had she gone? One of Alexei’s contacts in Skyway called, saying he needed to meet. He had just managed to clear the train station when her voice came over the channel they used when patrolling together. “ALEXEI!” Her radio cut, and not even static came through.

Retracing his steps, and Belladonna coordinating, Steel Canyon was combed more thoroughly that a customs check in Moscow International. She was nowhere to be found. Bella chattered about trace logs and other technical jargon that he couldn’t begin to understand, but the result was simple: Althea had disappeared.

Alexei had nearly broken down, forgetting himself and his focus. Red Saviour and her ability to remain in control no matter the situation, snapped him back to reality. He may have not been in the military, but years of living in a military household and over a decade in the Young Pioneers snapped him back. The wisecracking and humor was gone. They were able to figure out the Council was responsible, from a report Alexei had read on teleportation interference in “Hero Monthly”.

He would find Nazis, and they would talk, or they would pay.

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Alexei ducked under the kick and caught the Nebula in the stomach with an energized punch. There was a grim scream of terror as the commando was sent flying from the roof. The building was on the edge of a cliff, and it was a several hundred foot drop to the jagged beach below. October Star watched dispassionately as the soldier fell and was horribly broken on the rocks below.

“Shouldn’t you question them first?”

Alexei turned back to Sturmfront and shrugged. “He didn’t know anything. He was surprised to see us, and had no idea who we were.” He turned and looked to the east. “Are you thinking what I am thinking?”

The older soviet nodded. “I keep looking at the volcano as well.”

October Star nodded and turned his radio to the general channel. “Commissar Saviour, this is October Star checking in. We have been questioning them, but they seem to know nothing.”

Her voice, sharp with anger, cut in. “Da. Am having results in Brickstown.”

“Understood.” He paused. “We have checked entire Port Noble area and surrounding area. Commissar, there is a volcano on this island. As we get closer to it, there appear to be more Council. I’m going to go in for a closer look.”

Sturmfront clasped him on the shoulder and gave a firm nod. “We, comrade. I will not let you go alone.”

“Spaciba comrade. I did not want to speak for you.” Alexei tapped the communicator again. “We are going to go in for a closer look. See what we can find, gather intel and perhaps question a few more.”

“I copy, October Star.” Red Saviour paused, her mike still live. She had been outraged, angry and even concerned. For the first time, her voice softened slightly, showing genuine compassion. “Good hunting, Alexei.”

Spaciba, Commissar. October Star, out.”

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Tvoyu mat'! Sturm are you seeing this?”

“Am seeing Star, but am not believing.” The two men shook their heads. Then entire of the volcano’s mouth had been fitted with series of hydraulic doors. “Shh! There!” They fell to the ground on the outside of the lip, hiding as the older man pointed. An access door, as armored as a bunker entrance, opened for a brief moment and four council Mech Men exited, in what appeared to be an orderly patrol. He tapped Alexei’s shoulder, pointed to himself and indicated the rear two. Star nodded.

Sturmfront closed his eyes and concentrated and heavy cloud cover formed, shrouding the top of the mountain. October Star leapt from behind the lip of stone and let loose with a torrent of attacks from his blasters. Within seconds, the men were alone on the mountain top. The weather controller glided over to the door and tried it, with no luck.

“Commissar, this is October Star. I believe we have a problem.”

Red Saviour’s voice came back, silencing all the chatter from the other teams combing the city for Althea. “Go ahead Star.”

“We are at the top of the mountain. Commissar, you will not believe what we are seeing. The east end of the island is a military base.” He paused still amazed at the words he was about to say. “And the volcano…it is…it is looking like a missile silo.”

Red Saviour was calm, but the edge in her voice was apparent. “That is not good. Be careful. We don’t need to lose any more.”

“Understood Commissar.” He switched on his thrusters and began slowly making his way down the mountain. “This is not simple criminal hideout. I am seeing manufacturing facilities, landing strips, training camps, radar towers, bunkers. Comrades, this is an army base. They are looking to go to war.”

“Then we will bring war to them.” The venom in Red Saviour’s voice rose. “We will teach them how Russians make war.”

TCHORT! They have gun emplacements!” October Star back-pedaled as quickly as he could in the air, but the quad artillery cannon lit up the side of the hill. Shrapnel and flak struck Star, knocking him cold.
Rain, hail frost and lightning fell upon the guns, as Sturm jetted into view. Clouds covered the pair of them and Alexei was revived by the sudden influx of oxygen rich air. “Star get up! We can’t stay here!”

“REPORT! Sturfront! Star! What is your status? Do you copy?”

Rage, frustration, sadness and guilt had been at the surface since Althea’s cry had come over the radio. The desperation in Sturm’s voice and the Council’s brazen stance finally cause him to boil over. He flipped the belt control to “overload” and began blasting. He roared with all the fear, anger and indignation that flared in his heart. As the first battery exploded, his torrents fell upon the second, ripping the steel plating and electronic controls from the frame and send them tumbling down the mountain. His blasters froze as the safeties kicked in, keeping them from exploding. He sent the charge to his fists and pounded the third turret into a pile of scrap mental, only stopping when the concrete base it sat on cracked from the force of his blows.

Spent, panting, tears streaming down his face, Alexei reached up and touched his communicator. “The emplacements are destroyed. The sun is rising. Commissar, we will need a bigger force to find her, if she is here. We are returning to headquarters.”

A collective sigh of relief issued over the radio as the remainder of CCCP on duty heard October Star’s report. Red Saviour closed her eyes and nodded in a brief thanks to fate and luck. “Roger comrade. Good work.”

“October Star out.” Without even turning to Sturmfront, Alexei kicked off from the mountain, activated his thrusters and headed in a beeline to the beacon he had dropped on the ferry in Port Noble. It was not good work. He had nearly died several times, and had done things in the name of finding her he had never expected to do. He had crossed the line, and until he had his beloved Althea back at his side, he would not be right.

A Council bullet pinged off his shoulder guards. A lone council sniper had taken it upon himself to take out Star. Dispassionatly, he swooped down, and grabbed the soldier by the back of the belt. An energized puck between the should blades cause the soldier to drop the rifle into the ocean below. The soldier began to panic as they climbed higher and higher. “What are you doing? You cannot do this!”

“I can, and I am.” When October Star started feeling the upper limit of his thrusters, he stopped, and set his suit to “hover”. Flipping himself upside down, he turned so the man could see his face. “Do you know who I am, dog?” The man shook his head, not daring to look away. “I am October Star, hero of Kiev and defender of the Ukraine. I came to Paragon City to fight crime. I met a woman and fell in love. Earlier this evening, agents of the Council kidnapped her. Do you know anything about this?”

The punk quivered in absolute terror. “No man! I don’t know anything. I just joined, man. They recruited me in the Port. Really, I don’t know anything!” The soldier was in tears, begging and sniveling for his life.

“Again, I will remind you that we are at least eighty stories high.” Star ground his teeth, and his eyes narrowed. “Where is Althea Nagy?”

“I don’t know man. I swear man, if I knew I’d tell you, but I don’t know anything man, anything!”

“That is shame.” October Star let the man go and headed towards the beacon again. When the man’s scream finally stopped, Alexei blinked, his eyes only half opening afterwards. “I don’t care if I have to kill every last one of you. I will have my beloved back.”
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Russian Glossary for Unlearned Amerikanski readers

Tvoyu mat' - an expression of anger/annoyance or surprise, a bit milder than the “F” word, but still vulgar.

TCHORT! - Equivialt to “Hell!” or “Damn!”