Revenge of the Vazh.. Vahzz... Zomvies.

(posted Friday, July 29, 2005)

The dissonant guitar chords emanating from the radio-clock beside her bed jarred Sophia into wakefulness. Yesterday had been a day that had run late with the small affairs of moving-unpacking-registering and at the end of it she had collapsed into sleep like an undercut blade of grass.

She slid off, rubbed her eyes tiredly and craned her neck to see her husband blithely ignoring the alarm. Oh, well. There was nothing to it.

At the window she stopped for a moment and, as was her habit in new unfamiliar places, stood to regard the view. Their neighbourhood was almost picturesque. There were canals and little bridges, and yards with trees. It almost reminded her of Venice, which she had seen long ago when her husband was sent to a physics conference. The lectures had bored her almost to tears, and so she had quietly snuck out of the congress hall without anyone the wiser, and went exploring. If memory served right, their pretty, bourgeois neighbourhood was also among the more dangerous in the city – with Rikti remnants stalking the streets, and Council soldiers sniping civilians. But safety in America had its price, too, and there was only so much immigrants and new residents like them could afford.

It had all been so strange. The great white city hall and its stern people. Most odd were the people who came and went – green skins, blue skins, glowing eyes, cat ears… you name it, it was there for her to observe carefully. Robots and even aliens meshed together with just plain folks in jeans and a t-shirt. She had delivered her documents into the hands of one of the representatives and quickly left. Large crowds always intimidated her. She merely wished with quiet fervor that her husband – perverse man that he was – had not convinced her to don this ridiculous, gaudy costume and do her hair. Criminals didn’t care how she was dressed, after all, but the somewhat odd looks she was now getting surely did.

The whole notion was absurd! Super heroes… well, they were half legend, and she was just a regular, normal person. At least she had wanted to be a regular, normal person. Someone like her, in Russia, was never quite ‘normal’, but regular enough, all the same. And in this country she had been one of milliards, teeming masses that obscured her. She felt a comfort in the obscurity, and it was the fact that she now stood out, more than anything else, she admitted, that jarred her self-confidence. The fact that she was now expected to hold her own, and cover her husband’s back, in what must be, essentially a continuous war was not, in her mind, encouraging.




“I hate Vahzliok.”

Sasha noted that as they exited the doors of the Steel Canyon hospital – rather the worse for wear – for the fourth time. Earlier that week he had told her that his reserves of energy are displaying some stirrings again, and that she had better contact someone for an assignment for them. So this was what they got – enter an office where a group of crazed Vahzilok zombies had held hostages. How hard could this possibly be?

They had not quite expected… well, this.

“They are attacking an office, and this is all we know,” they were told, gravely, by the man in the hippy shirt whose name she could not, for her life, remember. “It’d be good for you. Just enter, get the people out, see if you can cause some harm on the way, and get out again.” Zombies! For several minutes, all she could think of was, you are surely joking, right? But then the man pulled out photographs of the things, and showed them to her. Oof! She thought that she could smell the grave even from the picture itself. She shivered a little, but nodded. “I think we can do that.”

The office was a large, grey building. Every building in this city was large and grey, really, and the office was just a double-door, colored grey and rather firmly locked, at the northern side of it. And so she and her husband had begun their super-career by picking a lock.

“Sophia,” her husband said a little mournfully behind her back, “can’t I just blast this thing?”

“No!” she snapped, futilely trying to poke the lock with a recently trimmed nail. “All we were told to do was get hostages out. We were not told to destroy the building in the process. Or any other part of the city’s property, for that matter. Hand me a wire, make yourself useful, won’t you?” She inserted the wire and twisted it every which way, looking for leverage. Luckily, the door had only been locked on the bottom lock – the one that wasn’t very secure, she noted grimly as it twisted and snapped back. “In we get.”

So they got. The slimy, smug monstrosities were lurking almost at the very doorstep. That was, she supposed later, only to be expected, since they could not have counted completely on a so easy to pick lock. But as she was sending a cloud of smoke up the nose of one, and trying desperately to light on fire another, she had not thought of that. She was only irrationally angry that these – these Abominations would dare so prevent her brilliant, if somewhat sneaky plan. Before she could contemplate it for very long, though, there was green, painful slime dripping all over her body, and a huge zombie – smelling like all seven hells and much bigger than she – slapped her shoulder.

The worst thing, it seemed to her then, were the flies hovering about the thing. They stung, too. She waved them off, and only then noticed her husband, looking very pained, backing away towards the door. Oh, joy. She did not have as good a control on her healing auras and radiation effects as she did on the pyrokinesis, for the obvious reasons, but she concentrated, and hoped she was emitting something appropriate. Apparently she was, because they both felt and – at least from what she could see – looked a little better.

Exchanging exuberant looks, they stood for a moment to catch their breath, and then proceeded confidently down the corridor.

Too bad, because that was where things started to get, as Americans aptly put it, interesting. And they found themselves half-conscious in the hospital for the first time. From here their luck only got worse.

The first two hostages were found in a corner, guarded by two Vahzilok zombies – a scary thing that spat on them (again) and a rather off-color humanoid with a bow. Uselessly guarded, she thought, since they were both loosely wrapped in a sheet and thoroughly dead.

“Devil,” she muttered, and dragged the body off, back into the corridor and towards the door. “I suppose he’s rescued now.”

That was when she found herself face to face with a formidable looking fellow, with a bow and what looked like a sickle. She smiled triumphantly… and found herself in the hospital, for the second time. And so it went, for the rest of that long, painful, not very encouraging day. After the fourth time, they had both sat down, panting, on the front steps of the hospital and considered.

“Not very super, are we?” Sasha noted ironically. Her husband has always had a perverse sense of humour, and was now amused, rather than distressed. Though she could bet anything that he, too, was annoyed.

“No.” she nodded thoughtfully. Admittedly, they were not very well trained yet… but they could have done better. With one of them shooting random energies out of his fists, and the other able to light on fire pretty much anything, combustible or no, they should have been able to at least handle the situation and not end in what American heroes she had overheard called a ‘faceplant’. They had a proverb for that, too: Don’t fall on your face in the mud. Well, they most certainly did.

Suddenly, she chuckled. “Does that mean I can get rid of this stupid uniform?” and sighed dramatically in response to his fierce glare.

The Comm unit she carried crackled quietly as more people connected into the network. She hadn’t been paying attention to it, in their previous escapades. As a matter of fact, she had stuffed it into a pocket, said hello and promptly let it slip out of her mind. After two visits to the hospital, her own memory was rather full of holes.

“Well, Comrades,” said a female voice out of the Comm unit, to her immense chagrin. “Perhaps I could give you an example of how it is done, da?” They found themselves standing, rather stupidly, in front of the commissar. Afterwards, they found themselves, even more stupidly, cowering behind her back as she hovered about the corridors at tremendous speed.

WHAM! And an energy blast very similar to her husband’s swept a group of three zombies – who previously sent them fleeing – off their feet and into oblivion. There proceeded the sound of several moderate BANGs, and while her husband was scratching his hair in confusion, several more of the things were down.

“Well, Pines and Sticks…” said Sophia in a quick whisper. “Why can’t you do that?”

“I don’t know!” her husband almost wailed as they proceeded to pick the rather gruesome leftovers, and look through them for anything that might help their annoying contact figure out what was what – so long as it was done without them.

“I found something!” came the disgustingly cheerful tone of their superior. “I think you forgot to look over here. This body has Water Department I.D. tag. It can’t be good.”

Oh, no way! She thought, grimacing pathetically. Of course, it is simply great, when you find a body, with badge or without one. She tried to stand up quickly, got dizzy and stumbled forward, rather than running there as she wished to do. “Um, thank you, Commisar. I can get…” and said nothing more as Red Saviour offered her the grimy badge, wiping it first, neatly, on the corpse’s wrap.

Sophia [lucked the card with two fingers, trying very hard to keep her features steady, and not dissolve into gagging disgust. The three of them, even the Commisar, fled the building with relieved sighs, and, one must admit, rather plugged noses. All Sophia could not wish for was a long, long hot shower and a lot of soap. Her husband, perhaps, did not wish this, but she didn’t really care.

“Well, I must be going now,” smiled Red Saviour genially. “Dinner, house, you know…”

“Of course,” murmured Sophia, “we appreciate your help.” As a matter of fact, we appreciate your taking over this little fiasco. Not that I object…

“Indeed, Comrade,” her husband simply fluttered with gratitude. And with interest. The commissar was, after all, a very good looking woman. She will have a talk with him about it later. She cast him a look and he, for some reason, very quickly averted his eyes.

It was perhaps ten minutes’ walk to their contact, and a long, long road on the tram and on foot to their home. Sophia noted to herself to figure out, and appropriate, a car. The man they had received the information from was standing in his usual corner, looked grim and mumbled something into his cell phone. She wondered whether he had or did not have a life, but the answer was, for one, fairly obvious and, for another, impolite to an extreme.

She coughed.

“Yes?”

“I think you wanted this,” she said, perhaps a little dryly.

“Oh, oh yes. Wonderful. It must have been no trouble for you two at all,” Sophia and Sasha exchanged a quick look of dread. “So, I think this water I.D. badge tells us most of what we need to know. Why don’t you go check out if you can find some informa… Hey, where are you guys going?”

The two wannabe heroes waved, and retreated quickly down the street, their eyes a little wild.

Krasniy Zakat
Krasnaya Zarya