Address to the troops

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

Previous Story in the Arc: Tiny Magics.... by Victoria Victrix (Tuesday, June 07, 2005)

Next Story in the Arc: The Kindness of Strangers by Red Saviour (Wednesday, June 08, 2005)

(posted Tuesday, June 07, 2005)

Red Saviour surveyed her troops, rag-tag lot that they were. Half of them didn’t even have uniforms yet. Shuma---had vanished. According to Bella, she was still cracking skulls in Striga but her comm. was off and she was not answering it. Saviour was missing three more of the new recruits: Belladonna was manning the comm station; Waitron9000 beside her, serving as a much more powerful computer than anything CCCP had in the comm room, and Victoria Victrix was apparently serving as the FBI interface from her apartment, to keep the running dogs out of CCCP headquarters. She was also missing some of the senior members, who were out pounding Council heads….Sturmfront, “riding herd” as Comrade Cowgirl said, on October Star. As serenely violent as Sturmfront was, his actions were paling with comparison to Star’s.

Beloschka. He called the girl his beloschka. Another complication.

Never mind. Bella was relaying all of this by comm., keeping her head level, herself cool. “Paramedic mode” she called it. The best person to have on the comm.. Though when this was over---

“This is what we are knowing,” Saviour said, calmly. “Last night, Althea Nagy’s teleport was interrupted over Silver Lake in Steel Canyon. She dropped into the water and was probably rendered unconscious from fall. From there, she vanishes. We know she has been carried to many places in city. Comrade Aura and team are tracing her journey. Comrade Victrix has other resources being to bear brought. We are very sure agency responsible is Council.”

That poor child…in the hands of the Council. She would eviscerate them when she got her hands on the ones responsible.

Nods. Everyone knew this. Now what they did not know.

“Comrade Nagy was referred to us by Moscow under---false colors.”

A stir, except among those who, according to the “About Last Night” memo from Comrade Victrix, already knew. Murdock: unreadable. Shen: hanging his head. Communard looking distinctly uncomfortable. Agn---well, who could read a gas-mask? Bestial Boy---

Bestial Boy would not meet her eyes. He was the one who was supposed to have told her all this. True, she had sent him to Washington over his own protests but---he was the one who was supposed to have told her all this.

Still, it looked as if he was sufficiently punishing himself.

Fei Li---who also should have said something---was out on the streets as well. Shen Xue was not a master of tactics for nothing, and surely knew there would be an accounting.

“Although she does indeed come of a upyr-hunting family, which it appears the Council slaughtered---“

Under whose orders? The Vampires? Or---someone else?

“---she was, in fact, adopted and had virtually no command of magic when she first came to us. It appears she was an unwitting pawn of something or someone, in a plot to discredit the CCCP. Her abduction is undoubtedly a part of this plot.”

A stir. More than a stir. Those who knew the girl looked ill. Those who did not looked alarmed or suspicious, according to their natures.

“Speculation on who, or why, is of no consequence at this moment. One of ours has been taken, and we will get her back.”

Alive---Natalya did not pray. Religion was the opiate of the masses. But---a glance at the creature that called itself an angel---it would do no harm if other deluded souls did.

“Yesterday I had put into my hands through irregular channels a letter to Comrade Nagy from her adopted parents. I will read it to you.”

She cleared her throat.

“Beloved daughter;

Sometimes growing the best tomatoes in Moscow has unexpected dividends, and I have cashed in a favor to have this letter sent to you. Hold to your courage with both hands, my darling. Your Mama and I have been speaking of this without stop since you left us, and we decided it is better for you to break your heart all at once than have the sand eroded from beneath your feet little by little until there is nothing left for you to stand on.

You will never be allowed to come home.

The Central Committee and the Metahuman Bureau have told us in so many words that you are to be considered dead to us. Of course they did not tell us why, but my tomato-friend tells me that he believes they are afraid of what you one day may become; that they know your spirit is such that you will not be corrupted by promises of luxury or power to use your magic against the people. He also shrugged when I asked if there might be other reasons and said only that "They never do anything for just one reason."

Your Mama and I are weeping, but we are also proud, to know that these men believe that you are so strong, and so good, that they cannot corrupt you.

Please keep up the charade, so that all of us may be safe from them. But make a real life for yourself there. You are a fine, beautiful girl, my precious. Every moment from the time that you were put into our arms by Ivanova has been a treasure that we will always cherish. There will be people there who will surely see and value what we have always known was inside you, the magic of your gentle heart.

Love
Papa”

Whispered translation from those who spoke Russian to those who did not.

“The letter is genuine, the provenance undoubted, so if any of you were harboring doubts as to whether Comrade Nagy is the innocent dupe in this scheme, they should now be gone. You know what you are looking for; you know why we are doing this. This is your comrade, very nearly a civilian, duped and manipulated into this position, but still your comrade. Some of you have fought beside her and know her worth as a team-member. She is one of ours. We will free her.”

She looked them over one more time, and nodded. Spines were straighter, gazes more direct. Now they knew what they were fighting for.

A terrified child in the hands of sadists. A poor little Botany student thrown to the dogs. Well, the dogs were about to get their backs broken, right after they got their teeth shoved down their throats. The wolf was coming, the mother-wolf with hackles up and teeth bared, coming for her stolen cub. And if the girl died---

“Dismissed.’