From the Depths of Shadows

From the Story Arc: The Night the Light Went Out in Striga

Previous Story in the Arc: A Time For Revenge by Madame Molotov (Monday, August 15, 2005)

(posted Tuesday, August 23, 2005)

Archon Vilnius lay on the ground with his arms outstretched in the air trying to defend his face. Madame Molotov stood glaring over him, staring down at the man as if the very fires of Hell danced in her eyes. Flames erupted from Molotov’s fingertips as she raised her hands and brought down torrents of fire on the man who killed her father. A bonfire exploded in front of Molotov as Archon Vilnius cried out in pain and disappeared within the flames. Molotov stood back as the flames grew higher and higher, the heat from the fire causing the man’s bones to pop as they exploded with the increasing temperature of the fire. Molotov had sworn this man would suffer and she would not rest until he had died. This is what Molotov had thought day and night for months… finding this man to exact her revenge. The flame burned white-hot and Molotov knew this was the end. Soon all that would remain of Archon Vilnius would be a pile of ashes to scatter in the wind. But then there was a trace of movement. Something stirring in the fire…. What was this? Suddenly Archon Vilnius stepped out of the flames and turned to Molotov with an evil smile on his face. Vilnius laughed as Molotov fell back.

Molotov woke up with a start. It had been a dream. Nyet, a nightmare. The room was dark. A glance at the clock showed it was 3:20 AM. Molotov had barely slept more then two hours since the last nightmare. That dream had been the same as this one. Molotov was covered in sweat, which was odd. Ever since Molotov first developed her mutation and her immunity to fire, she never had the need to sweat. Sweat was the human body’s natural method to cool down, yet Molotov had not experienced this for over 15 years. Molotov’s body temperature was elevated beyond that of most normal individuals, for her to sweat was something she just could not explain. Molotov’s body trembled as the tears poured from her eyes. Molotov cried as she sat up in the bed and pulled her knees to her chest. Molotov began to rock back and forth as the tears rolled down her cheeks.

Molotov knew she was in the CCCP’s headquarters. The room was dark, and the door to the hallway was closed. Molotov knew she should be safe here. The CCCP was here and Molotov was tucked away deep in the sublevel of the building. The Council had no reach here. The Council had taken her, but she had been freed. Yet, Molotov could not stop shaking. Molotov’s head swirled with so many thoughts and questions. The past 48 hours had been filled with so much chaos that Molotov was not sure what had really happened. Yes, Molotov should be safe, yet she was not sure.

Archon Vilnius still lived. Molotov had the opportunity to torch him on Striga Island but she had hesitated. For some reason, she could not bring herself to destroy the man she had searched for all these months. Why? Molotov had been on a rampage lately. She had knocked over several Council lairs lately and on more then one occasion had gone outside the protocols slightly when interrogating Council officers. Molotov may have bended the rules but she had not used her power to end someone’s life purposely. She was saving this for the one man who had killed her father. Her revenge was for him and him alone. The rest of the Council would fall, but Molotov had dreamed of killing this one man for months now. However, Molotov had been given her chance, and she had failed.

After Molotov’s capture, she had been told her father had basically joined the Council in an effort to help raise an army. Vilnius claimed that Molotov was to have been “a gift” to the Council for use in experiments in developing new fireproof soldiers. Molotov’s father had been a hero to the Soviet Union several decades ago. His assistance in the Soviet Super Soldier program was well documented. Molotov had known her father as a man who was dedicated to restoring the Motherland to the great nation it once was. Surely he would never resort to turning to the Council. It was impossible. However, Molotov now had questions. Doubts. Perhaps Archon Vilnius had been telling the truth. How could Molotov ever get the answers to these questions? Did she truly want these answers?

Molotov thought of the moment she had been rescued. Molotov had been rescued by members of the CCCP and from members of the Alliance of Champions and several other heroes. Molotov was still kind of unsure of how the rescue went down. Somehow the Council had moved her from Striga to Dark Astoria. Apparently a few members of the CCCP had been prepared or Molotov may have not gotten out alive. After another member of the CCCP, Althea Nagy, had been kidnapped by the Council several months ago, some of more astute members of the CCCP developed a plan. This plan was one they hoped they would never have use for, yet, in Paragon City one had to be prepared for anything. Especially with the Council around.

Apparently, Molotov had been located by Victoria Victrix who somehow channeled the earth-magics by using a drop of Molotov’s blood in her spells. Belladonna Aura’s “routine” blood test several weeks back was in fact a part of the plan that John Murdock and Seraphic Flame had developed after the Althea incident. Nearly every member of the CCCP had a vial of blood stored, hidden safe, just in case it was needed. Victoria Victrix had hoped the blood would never need to see the light of day, however the Council had struck yet again. Murdock and Flame had decided to keep their extraction team small, and without Commissar Saviour’s knowledge. The last thing they wanted was to involve Red Saviour in a confrontation with the Council again. They had trusted Agn Stratonik with the information. He was, after all, a member of the CCCP who had dealt extensively with the Council and had an extensive network of contacts throughout Paragon.

Molotov had been missing for nearly a week. The first two days, no one had even known that she was gone. Molotov had been working extra patrols recently and was scheduled off for a couple of days. On the third day, Molotov should have reported in, yet she failed to do so. Rory Hartlan, of the Alliance of Champions, had apparently sent over a case of Russian vodka to be signed for by Madame Molotov only. The last case he had sent never reached its intended recipient and Rory was apparently determined that Molotov receive it this time. After Molotov failed to report, Rory had checked her apartment. He had never been there himself, but one of his teammates, Titian Paladin, had dropped her off there several weeks ago. No one knew where she had gone. Molotov sometimes will head back to the Motherland, but after a few calls, no one had seen her there and she had not registered for any flights out of town. The alarm had gone out and the search was on.

John Murdock and Flame hit Striga pretty hard since they knew Molotov had been there a lot recently but their search turned up empty. Eventually, the word came back that Molotov was indeed in the Council’s hands. Victoria Victrix was able to locate her somehow on Striga and then when she was moved to Dark Astoria. Victrix refused to reveal her source for this information, but Molotov knew that must have come from someone outside the CCCP. Whoever it was was very good at their job and Molotov was thankful for their efficiency. Once Molotov was in Dark Astoria, Victrix’s magic could no longer accurately pinpoint Molotov’s location. Agn had to roundup some of his contacts until he located the building the Council had converted into one of their bunkers. Flame, Murdock, and Agn headed to Dark Astoria as the call went out to Rory Harlan. Rory rounded up a few friends and they went in.

All Molotov remembers is waking up and Rory standing over. She thought she remembered him asking her out to dinner, but she was so groggy that the memory was fuzzy. Since Molotov was so out of it, Rory picked her up and carried her out of the bunker while the rest of the extraction team fought off the warwolves the Council was sending after them. Molotov did recover enough to hear Rory tell her that she would never be alone with the friends she had. Molotov knew this to be true. Yet, somehow, she felt she was alone that moment. How could she have let Archon Vilnius get away? Her thirst for revenge had caused those she cared for get in harm’s way. Agn had been injured severely during the battle, yet claimed he was fine. Molotov felt responsible for this. Agn would not have been here if she had never gone looking for the Council.

Molotov was not sure what to think of Rory. He had been an ally in many battles and recently had seemed to take more of an interest in her. However, Molotov was hesitant. Getting too close to someone will open you up for vulnerability. Enemies will use these relationships to hurt you. One thing the Council knows how to do is to exploit these weaknesses. Molotov had lost nearly everyone in her life that had meant something to her. She never wanted to go through that again. So she had kept the Celtic rogue at arm’s length. Yet again and again, he continued to come back. Molotov did not know how to approach the situation. She was thankful for Rory’s friendship, but to have something more… that would open her up for a heartbreak she was just not willing to risk.

Seraphic Flame had attempted to talk to Molotov after the rescue. She had mentioned how proud she was that she turned away from revenge. Molotov did not understand how anyone could be proud of her actions. In her mind, she had failed to do the one thing she had set out to do. Yet Flame told Molotov that failure is one thing everyone goes through. Molotov might view her actions as a failure, when in fact her actions were just the opposite. It is how we pick ourselves back up that matters most. Everyone fails, yet we are all here for each other. Molotov knew Flame was right. She probably knew about disappointment more than anyone. The entire CCCP seemed to be a magnet for trouble and what could be deemed as failures. However, we are all here as one, when one of us fails, we all fail. If we quit after failures, then none of us would be here. The CCCP would be nonexistent. Our failures and how we overcome diversity is what defines who we are. Our actions make us the person we are to become. Flame had told Molotov that she was not alone. The CCCP will stand by her now, and in the future. Molotov would have done the same thing if one of the other members of the CCCP had been taken.

Molotov knew that Flame was right. Yet, somehow she felt something was holding her back. Doubt continued to swirl in her mind. Had she done the right thing? Will she see Archon Vilnius again? If she does, how will she react? Molotov still could see him dying. She wanted him dead. He was the man who killed her father. However, would she be the one to end it? What other alternative was there? Molotov was scared. She wiped the tears from her eyes as she rolled over and attempted to go back to sleep. Yes, the CCCP did come for her. She was not alone. Molotov knew she could count on the CCCP for everything she needed. Yet as she lay there, trembling in the dark shadows of the room, she felt more alone then she had ever felt before in her life.