Part 5

From the Story Arc: Legacy of a Fallen Hero

Previous Story in the Arc: Part 4 by October Star II (Friday, July 15, 2005)

Next Story in the Arc: Memories of Future Past by Althea Nagy (Sunday, August 07, 2005)

(posted Thursday, July 21, 2005)

Vladamir sat uncomfortably on the bunk in the CCCP headquarters. The initial rush of seeing familiar uniforms and insignias had worn off. He now sat, his head cradled in his hands, desperate to soak in what he had learned. It was 2005 not 1940. Red Savior was now the leader of the CCCP, but not the Red Savior he knew, but his daughter. Vlada’s grandson now wore the October Star suit. The CCCP was now based out of the United States instead of Soviet Union, although they still took orders from Moscow. Creatures from outer space had invaded the Earth, and now flying squid like creatures merged with humans and fought alongside of superheroes.

It was all too much like a cheap book, and it was far more than the nineteen year old patriot had ever expected to experience.

His stomach grumbled and he chuckled. “Strangeness of it all be damned, you will be fed old friend?” He patted his stomach. His father had always prided himself on his appetite and keeping fit, and was pleased when both his sons turned out the same.

Vlada missed his brother. The two were only thirteen months apart, and Alexei had always followed at his older brother’s side. Both had applied for the October Star program, and Alexei had probably been more proud then Vlada when his older brother was selected to wear the suit. Thoughts of his brother turned to thoughts of his grandson. The fact that he was named for his brother was not lost on him.

He rose from his bunk and poked his head out of the room he was given. The hallway was dark, but a few lights were on here and there. He quietly exited the room and began trying to retrace his steps. The kitchen had been on the floor beneath him.

It hadn’t taken long to find what called him. He was not the sort to keep his stomach waiting. A large bowl of soup, a half dozen dinner rolls, a pile of sausages and a box of what looked like cookies all were placed on a serving tray and he took it back to the common area. The chairs there were more comfortable than the benches in the messhall.

A hero, someone had pointed out as “Chug”, snored sweetly, curled up on the sofa cuddling an odd looking stuffed dinosaur. He had apparently fallen asleep watching an animated sponge and his starfish friend. Vlada had seen the control used earlier and assumed it wasn’t too hard to use. He picked it up from the floor and began pressing buttons.

The shows were a bit fast paced and often hard to understand, even with the Russian subtitles showing on the video entertainment machine’s window. American humor was understand. George spoke of “low talkers”. Doctor Huxtable danced oddly to jazz and his wife made fun of him for wanting to fix something instead of calling a repairman. All of the friends laughed at how stupid Joey was. Was there anything redeeming on this machine? He switched the channel a few times and what he saw on the screen shook him.

It was called the History Channel, and they were running what they called a marathon of a program called “World at War”. The uniforms and equipment in the pictures were unmistakable. It was the war against Germany. He wanted to turn the channel, be he couldn’t.

His stomach turned knots seeing the brutality of the fighting at the Russian front. Photos and film from the aftermath of the siege of Leningrad made him wince. The burning retreat across the fields of the Ukraine, his Ukraine, brought tears to his eyes. The third hour brought a focus on the super soldiers involved in the fight. They interviewed some American named Statesman, and then a British hero called Claymore. Both spoke of the loss of life of normal men and soldiers, and how they did what they could to stop what they could. Then they began interviewing a man named Yvegeny Karatov, who had written a book on the CCCP and was considered an expert on their history. The hardest thing to accept was his factual presentation. The CCCP had twenty-four members across the duration of the war. Eleven of those twenty-four had died because of the conflict.

Nighthunter had only been the first. Ten more would die before the war ended. Ten good men and women. He thought of the members he already knew. How many of them would be dead before the war ended? How many comrades would he bury?

Although no surviving members of the wartime CCCP had agreed to be interviewed for the program, they produced a taped interview dated from 1984. The eyes were tired and the eyebrows were silver, but there was no question of who it was. A much older reflection of himself sat in front of a black background. Vlada sat mesmerized seeing himself speak words that were twenty years old, but would not be spoken by him for over forty. ”We were heroes of the people. We fought as hard as we asked them to. We were more than symbols or slogans. We were the pride of our people because we were proud of our people. Nearly a dozen of us died. It was painful, but if we had not been willing to make the same sacrifices we asked of the people, we would betray everything we stood for.” The older Vlada pinched and tugged the costume. ”This is just a costume. I wear the faith of my people, the pride of the Soviet Union and the power of Russian will. All of us did. I don’t know that we were heroes. We may have had super powers, but we were simply being Russian.”

As the depth of his own words sunk into Vlada, the narrator came back on. “Vladamir Nikolski, the October Star, officially retired from active duty in 1979, but still assisted his countrymen as needed. Two years after this interview he put the suit on one last time. This hero of World War Two and pride of the people of the Ukraine perished from radiation poisoning trying to save and evacuate others at the Chernobyl disaster in 1986. Perhaps in a poetic way, he never saw the fall of his beloved Soviet Union.”

Vlada turned off the set. His stomach felt like it wanted to expel the food it had begged for earlier. His head swam, coming to grips with what he had just seen. He jumped as Chug snorted in his sleep. “…mmm, gravel…” The childlike behemoth smacked his lips and smiled before grunting contentedly and turning over.

Vlada rose and went back to his room. As he laid down he looked at the costume that hung on the hook on the back of the door. It would lead him to fame and honor. It would also lead to his death. He closed his eyes as he felt the embrace of sleep come for him.

The depth and strength of a human character are defined by its moral reserves. People reveal themselves completely only when they are thrown out of the customary conditions of their life, for only then do they have to fall back on their reserves.
Leon Trotsky