Komrad Vex: Unexpected Endgame, Pt1

From the Story Arc: Red And Blue

Previous Story in the Arc: Luck Be A Lady by Dr. Bella Dawn Parker (Sunday, August 14, 2005)

Next Story in the Arc: Komrad Vex: Unexpected Endgame, Pt2 by Dr. Bella Dawn Parker (Saturday, August 27, 2005)

(posted Saturday, August 27, 2005)

Today had brought more relief to Belladonna Aura than any other in a very, very long time. Today the CCCP had just inducted its newest recruit.

Another real physician to replace Soviette.

To say that Bella had been less than comfortable in her position was rather like saying that the Sahara was a little dry. Social Medicine, Thanh Ha, while a wonderful doctor, had been forced by recent circumstances to keep less than regular hours. This meant that, more and more often, Bella was forced to deal with situations for which she had no training and little experience. She had been leaning heavily on a circle of metahuman doctors at Chiron Hospital with whom she had established a relationship of mutual trust and respect, and had gotten a list of "ask no questions" labs with good reputations—but it wasn't the same as having a real M.D. on hand, and she knew it.

But today, today, oh frabjous day, calloo, callay, Doctor Red Crosse had joined the ranks. A stunning android, she did not have much field experience, but she was a fully qualified physician and surgeon. That was fine, the field stuff could be handled by a paramedic like Bella.

And to make her cup runneth over, Thanh came on patrol just as the good Doctor herself came off a mission. Bella struck, commed them both and arranged a meeting in Galaxy City where the good Doctor was getting an upgrade to her capabilities. She'd be able to brief them on the current state of things at the same time. Out of her hands and into theirs, and she could go back to being "Councilor Belladonna Troi," and plain old Medic Three.

They hooked up just under the statue of Galaxy Girl, where the Restore Paragon Congress met. And Bella looked from one to another of her colleagues, the old and the new, and grinned. "Ah, this is excellent," she said happily.

"Bella nguoi ban," tiny Thanh Ha replied, looking up at both of them.

Bella smiled down at her. You couldn't help but smile at her, she looked like a doll. "Hello Thanh," she said warmly.

The android physician, wearing the CCCP uniform with—a black cowboy had—turned to greet her with enthusiasm "Hello! Comrade Bella!"

She wanted to hug both of them. "Hello to both of you!"

Thanh was nearly getting trodden on by civilians who simply didn't notice her. The slightly synthesized voice came from her translator. "Let us move to less crowd area," she suggested, and the all perched on the pedestal of the statue. She looked about and sighed regretfully. "Ah. If only tien si Soviette ban were here. Would make great... 'photo op'. "

"Well it is good to see you Thanh!" Bella said with emphasis, "And good to meet you, Dr Crosse."

Thanh answered her with affection that came through even on the translator. "It is always good to be seeing you, Bella ban."

But—well, socializing later. Only the gods above knew what crises might interrupt at any moment. "All right, I need to update both of you, I think."

Social Medicine nodded vigorously. "Da. "

"Our crisis du jour," she began, "Seems to be Komrad Vex. We have no medical file on him as he never reported to me for his intake exam."

Social Medicine hmphed.

Doctor Crosse nodded. "Well, I can exam him none the less if we can find him."

If. That was the question. "Within the last two days he began behaving erratically, threw a policeman off a building and last night threatened to kill a hero named Booster Max.
This hero was in fact a friend of his, at least until last night. He has also said that his 'primary objective' is the 'removal of all CCCP members.'"

She let that sink in in silence.

"Chut. We have madman on hand," said Thanh in tones of disbelief.

Well, now the good news. "Victoria Victrix has a magical trace on him, and we should be able to take him in custody as soon as Blade or Saviour gives the order."

Doctor Crosse nodded. If an android could look troubled, she did. "Well maybe, he might be under some 'control' or something."

Bella and Thanh both nodded. Of course, that was what they, what everyone in the CCCP hoped…

But of course, Vex was only the top of the stack, and she hurried on. "Next up on the agenda: Madame Molotov was recently rescued from the Council and is clearly suffereing from PTSD. She is currently staying at HQ and is readily accessible for examination." And suffering from nightmares; guilt, depression, a loss of self-worth…this might be more than "Belladonna Trio" could handle on her own. Short term medication might be in order. Physician stuff.

And Doctor Crosse picked that ball right up. "I will make a point of talking to her and see if she wishes to discuss anything with me."

I wonder what she'd do if I knelt and kissed her feet right now?

She moved on to the third most urgent, which was a matter of absolute confidentiality. Up until this moment only four people had known about this particular can of worms…but this was going to need an M.D. for sure, because Bella had come up dry.
She clued them in on the problem and the hero's identity, and concluded, "My analysis so far reveals nothing, other than that, however you two will probably be more successful. I have a full exam and multiple blood, tissue and other assorted samples in storage."

Doctor Crosse had been making massive notes on a datapad, and nodded. "I will review your work and use it to start my treatment."

One by one, she was feeling enormous loads coming off her shoulders. Much more and she might start singing despite her own personal worries.

Zach…please be safe…

"Next: The Commissar's pregnancy. She has a metahuman ob/gyn in Steel Canyon, and all that is on file." Bella sighed. "She is still trying to smoke and drink."

There was a dinstinctly dry tone to Doctor Crosse's voice that spoke volumes. "Ah, I have seen her stances on this."

Now the last thing she could not handle. Thank the gods, it probably wasn't a serious issue. But it was worrying. Not least because it was one of her best friends. "And last and I think not urgent, Victoria Victrix has relatively sublethal level of multiple toxins of unknown origin in her bloodstream. She has symptoms similar to someone undergoing chemotherapy right now. Headache, nausea, thirst, lack of appetite and severe depression. Exhaustion, malaise, and unrestful sleep."

Severe enough to have sent her into a tailspin and seriously cheesed off poor Red Djinni, who wanted his cheerful partner Vickie back, and couldn't understand why she had suddenly reverted to the weeping, self-loathing creature he thought gone.

"I think this may be exposure to something on a mission, and should taper off in the next few days," she concluded.

"Really?...she report any hair loss or change in stool?" Doctor Crosse asked alertly.

Bella shook her head. She'd given Vickie the third degree when she had come in on Fei Li's orders. "No, nothing of the sort, Doctor."

"Hmm..I might just start weekly checks on all of you," Doctor Crosse mused aloud.
"Should Thanh Ha visit?" Social Medicine offered, "Thanh Ha can flush toxins well... Have much experience. "

Bellanodded. "That would also be very wise, Thanh."

Social smiled. "Tuyet. Thanh Ha will visit soon. "

And at that precise moment, all three of their comms crackled to life with the voice of their crisis du jour on the CCCP channel.

"All CCCP personel must be removed intact, the project requires samples....."

Bella squawked. "Ack! Speak of the devil!"

She snatched her comm. off her belt. "Komrad Vex, you are ORDERED to report to CCCP Medical IMMEDIATELY" she barked into it.

Doctor Crosse brought up her head like a dog on a scent. "I assume this is the Vex we have been looking for?"

Bella nodded, waiting for a response. "That would be him."

"Do you know what 'the project' is?" the doctor asked..

"Not a clue," she replied.

Now Social Medicine added her authority to Bella's. "Failure to report will result in recommendation of removal from duty and incarceration. "

And time for some added threat from Bella "You can't hide, Vex. We have a trace on you."

"Unless he has a better mage than Vickie on tap," she said off-comm to the others, "he can't lose that trace. And he doesn't know it's magical either."

"Vex, maybe I have the samples you require already," Doctor Crosse put in on the channel, sounding mild and reasonable. "May we meet?"

Brilliant! Brilliant! She's playing "good cop" to my "bad cop"!

But then—something happened that put the hair right up all over her body. The voice from the comm. was echoed from right behind her. "Belladonna Aura: Security clearance 33. Radiation based powers. Status: Required for CC Hero program."

She turned. "Up your nose!" she spat.

Social stood between Vex and Bella, in a stance that suggested that the little Vietnamese physician might have more than a few tricks up her sleeve. "YOU. "

Doctor Crosse stared. "Odd." Was all she said.

Komrad Vex stared right back at them, deadpan, expressionless. "You will all service the program."

But Bella still had the comm. in her hand and she knew how to use it. "CCCP STAT! WE HAVE VEX! LOCATION GC!"

Komrad Vex glared at all three of them "You are no threat to me."

Social Medicine glared right back "Just as you are nyet one to me. "

"I wouldn't bet on that if I were you," Bella growled back, her initial "flight" response rapidly turning into "fight," both hands balling into fists.

"I will have your samples," he said.

"You will lose your family jewels," Bella snarled.

Social sounded like an enraged tiger. "Thanh Ha will have your ass. "

Bella put one hand to her navel "If I take off this belly ring buddy, you are toast. Severe radiation poisoning." She recited the symptoms with grim glee. "First your skin will slough off. Then you'll lose your hair. Then you start bleeding out. You really want to risk that? '

But Vex was turning to the third member of the group. "Red Crosse: Subject is unknown Status: not suitable to the project. You will not stop the project."

She had to risk it. "It's coming off now Vex. 3. 2."

"Booster max thought he could stand in the way. He failed," Vex said—and jumped. Bella swore. She hadn't known he was a super-leaper. "Sonuvabitch."

Social swore too. "CHUT! "

"Vex, I can't jump that high," Doctor Crosse said plaintively on the comm.

Bella pinched the bridge of her nose trying to get her adrenaline to ease off. "OK, Dr Crosse" she said. "That last was not an idle threat. This belly ring I wear cleans my rads.
I take it off, if I am not in a containment suit, I become a serious biohazard. If I took it off he would be exposed to enough in a few minutes to give him lethal radiation poisoning."

By this point, in chasing Vex, they had ended up near the Atlas Park Gate. "I wasn't able to even start a full scan," Crosse said. "But, I was able to do two heals....neither nano solutions found anything odd in him. Yet it is odd that he wanted to collect something so deadly....I am not even sure he could survive that."

Bella grimace. "It's sort of my poison pill as it were."

Red Crosse nodded. "Well lets not take it, shall we Comrade Bella?"

She sure as hell hoped she wouldn't have to use it.

Vex was back on the CCCP channel "The CCCP will service the program. Your samples will add to the perfection of the CC Hero ranks."

And a new voice. Blessed new voice. Soviet Winter, tough, experienced and canny old fighter. "I do not understand comrade."

Doctor Crosse was musing aloud. "I know you don't like this idea; he was 're-educated' once already....maybe he has switched sides…."

Social Medicine definitely had her dander up now. "If dong chi think he can take sample from Thanh Ha, he is grossly mistaken," she said on channel.

But Bella had another fish to fry; she had to warn Soviet Winter. And if he could help them nail Vex—"Winter! He's gone rogue!" she said on-channel. "Orders from People's Blade are to apprehend and detain!"

"Ah yes I have read the news print—" Winter began.

"It is not important that you understand, your compliance is all that is required. Will you submit Soviet Winter?" Vex continued.

"He just threatened me and Thanh Ha," Bella urged, trying to make it clear that this was a real threat, and not something trumped up out of nothing by the papers. "Now he's threatening you!"

Suddenly, Winter's voice went from puzzled to alarmed and alert. "Very well! Where are last known whereabouts?"

"Galaxy City," she said urgently, hoping he could get there quickly.

"Nyet I will not submit to anything from a rogue agent of the people," Winter said grimly on-channel, adding his own note of defiance.

The Doctor was doing more than musing aloud now. She began outlining some of her own knowledge to Bella and Thanh. "There is a section in KGB manual 82 that explains the weakness in passive re-education programs is that the subjects are sometimes left with a key weakness. Namely the under-mining of 'right' or the 'strength' of their primary group. This mining after time will reduce and then remove the subject's ablility to remain loyal."

Soviet Winter, was continuing his defiance. "I will find you and bring you to justice for the people who I serve willingly."

Bella could have wept. Someone who was actually equipped with the right information to handle something like this! And inducted just today! "Well, I'm an American paramedic, and this is out of my league," she confessed.

"I am no rogue!" Vex snapped back. "I strive for a better world for the people. This can only be accomplished through the CC Hero project."

What the hell?

"You are a mistaken fool," Thanh snarled.

"Your powers will make a better tomorrow for all," he declared.

Time for another word from the bad cop. "You are a loonie," she said flatly. "You get near me and you get lethal rads, buddy. Next time I won't warn you."

Now the "good cop" chimed in. "Vex, by whose statement do you judge that to be true? While I am new to CCCP your stance about CC Hero needing samples may very well be true...but without understanding who my sampel is for..I cannot agree that they are the best for the people."

Off channel, the Doctor turned to the other two. "Let's see if he is willing to defend his stance or if he only repeats it to us."

"He really sounds programmed," Bella said, brows furrowed.

On channel, Winter was ignoring Vex. "Comrades I shall be in Galaxy City within minutess to, how should I say it, ummh look for clues."

Winter was coming. A fighter. A canny fighter.

"Someone who is 'trolled won't have a reason…" Doctor Crosse explained to the two of them.
"Tao nhon lu tui bay toi co roi," Social spat over open comm..

"What she said," Bella echoed after her.

"The capitalist economic structure cannot be overthrown, it is vital for the survival of the people," Vex was saying. "The might of the CC Hero corp will be the PROTECTORS of the system."

What the bloody hell?

Social was livid. "You are nyet nothing but a puppet of the hand that will keep the people we seek to liberate in slavery. "

Doctor Crosse continued to lead Vex on. "I understand their goal; your statement before, about it being the best for the people, could very well be true. My question again is, who is the CC Hero and how does their system differ from CCCP, and how does this differences require them to have samples?"

"Jeezus!" Bella said, feeling rattled again. "He sounds like he's doing something for.....capitalists?"

"Comrades I have arrived in Galaxy City," Winter said, over channel. "I am now switching to my Portal armor because of its sensor capabilities."

"He mentioned 'corporation'. " Thanh said, doubtfully.

Doctor Crosse persisted on comm., as Bella listened in awe to an expert at negotiation. "If we are the weaker, then why does CC Hero need our samples?....why do they need to collect them in a manner in which you take such a aggressive stance toward us? For I would willing give you the samples you require if I was able to understand why you Comrade Vex, of the Komrade project series are acting like a broken capitalist CIA basket weaving project."

"Let's see if he still repeats his 'message' when mad," she told Bella and Thanh, explaining the insult at the end.

"The CCCP has a flawed ideology, they have attacked the system the supports the people," Vex repeated stoically. The CC Hero Corp will only be made stronger by the addition of your samples."

"Doc, I hover in admiration," Bella breathed.

"So the ideology is flawed but the bodies are not?" Crosse asked Vex.

"Your powers are undeniable," Vex replied.

"So you wish to recreate us with a different ideology?" Crosse responded.

An android, even one chipped to have AI and emotions, didn't have ones that Bella could read. Just in case Crosse was hesitating, Bella bolstered her confidence. "Doc, I don't have the skill, you keep going."

"They have been pointed in the wrong direction," Vex replied.

"I am trying," Crosse said—with just enough of a hint of self-doubt, perhaps, that Bella reinforced the message.

"You're doing great!" Bella urged.

Crosse took to the comm. again. "Why not a re-education program?"

And then—suddenly—

Vex's voice. But not the flat, programmed voice. This was the voice of a man frantic with strain, and about to crack. "I do not wish to create anything, it.... is..... the.... BEWARE COMRADES IT IS THE COUNTESS!"

What the--

Winter had an urgent request of his own. "Comrade Aura can you give me a secure line to other team members—"

Of course she could. But she didn't want Vex to know that.

"No can do, Winter, limits of the Paragon Hero Corps Comm System," she said, linking him in to the medical team at the same time.

Vex was screaming. "AAAHH she inflicts pain—"

Social was white. "...Crey. "

"Vex I am proud of you," Crosse said quickly over comm. "I thought for a second you might have been hopeless buried..."

Crosse turned to Bella quickly "Don't draw too much attention to it...if it was me I would hammer home keeping my id off the grid.... I think he has been, brainwashed or at the very least messed with..."

Hell. Right.

"Keep your ID off the grid," she said on open, hoping Winter would understand what she meant and go dark, so Vex couldn't find him by locating on his ID.

Bella shook her head. "That's it for me. If we have to, we can all go dark."

And on the comm., Vex sounded like a man in torment. "Be...Beware.... the protectors........ Comrades......She is coming for us all..."