Komrad Vex: Unexpected Endgame, Pt2

From the Story Arc: Red And Blue

Previous Story in the Arc: Komrad Vex: Unexpected Endgame, Pt1 by Belladonna Aura (Saturday, August 27, 2005)

Next Story in the Arc: Komrad Vex: Unexpected Endgame, Pt3 by Belladonna Aura (Sunday, August 28, 2005)

(posted Saturday, August 27, 2005)

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

Clustered near the Atlas Park Gate in Galaxy City, the three main staff of CCCP Medical, Doctors Red Crosse, and Social Medicine, and Paramedic Belladonna Aura, listened to the voice of member-gone-rogue Komrad Vex. Only moments before, he had threatened both Bella and Thanh Ha. Then, as Doctor Crosse played "good cop" to Bella and Thanh's "bad cop," began ranting on the CCCP comm. channel about something called the "CC Hero Group" and how the members of the CCCP were scheduled for "sampling" and elimination.

Then suddenly—he'd switched, like someone flipping a physical switch in his head, and now was carrying on about a "Countess" and "protectors."

Countess—Crey? And Paragon Protectors?

And dammit! Bella thought, looking at the vast expanse of "off-duty" names on the CCCP roster, We are woeful damn short of firepower!. She was the only "offender" in the bunch—being no pacifist, she had, when training, always gone for a mix of medical and offensive powers. Because you couldn't heal people if you couldn't keep the bad guys off them….

But help, blessed help was on the way. Soviet Winter had just logged in on patrol as Vex was part-way through his rant. And now he arrived at their location in GC as Bella hovered—literally hovered, about 10 feet up—in a protective stance over the newest member, Doctor Red Crosse.

"Winter," she said in greeting and intense relief, as Winter looked up at her.

Doctor Red Crosse was still on the comm., coaxing information out of Komrad Vex. "Vex. So again about CC Hero...why collect us? How come you got to decide to switch?"

"Good to see you," Bella told Winter, meaning every word.

Soviet Winter saluted her, standing next to Thanh Ha. "Privyet comrade, comrades."

Bella waved both of them to where she was. "Over here, this is the new Doc just beneath me. Soviet Winter, Dr Red Crosse. She's playing mindgames with Vex."

The Doctor nodded absently. "Nice to meet you Comrade. 'Protectors' mean anything to you?"

There was only one thing that Bella could think of. "Paragon Protectors. Crey."

But how were they tied into what was going on with Vex?

Bella continued bringing Soviet Winter up to speed. "Winter, let her have the CCCP Channel and keep him talking. She has some experience with programming and mindwashing."

Soviet Winter tilted his head to one side. "Da it does seem that she is ummh bring more out of Vex eh?"

Red Crosse ducked her head modestly. "Well, based on my limited discussion I think he has been brainwashed or is otherwise under the control of these protectors…they have created a cover story that he accepts to a limited degree....but I am not sure if it is just a another layer of cover."

Bella spread her hands. "Hey, I'm a lowly paramedic, this is right out of my league." But oh, under other circumstances—watching a master at work—

"Vex," the Doctor continued. "My comm is always on....I would like to talk more about this and about what type of samples you need." She looked up at Bella. "Don't be so hard on yourself. I am just winging this."

Bella shook her head. "Winter, what do you know about the Paragon Protectors?"

Soviet Winter shrugged. "I have had no dealing with them that I can recall."

Bella had—but only as part of being hauled along for her abilities on much, much higher level missions than she "should" have had access to. "My missions have barely brushed up against them."

On the comm., Komrad Vex was back to his controlled state. "Perhaps we should meet then Red Crosse, so that everything can be explained."

Bella could only repeat what Commissar Bestial Boy had told her. Told her…because now he had a warrant out for his arrest, with charges filed against him by Crey. And now this. Zach, where are you? Are you safe? "Zach said something about.....about them being clones of heroes, programmed to follow the orders of Crey."

The Doctor was not venturing onto dangerous ground. "If you would like to I would. I have to say an escort will come with me, you can understand, big guy like you...little doc like me."


Winter was still reacting to what Bella had just said. "Clones?? it is horrible—"

But Social Medicine had a different understanding of the nature of the Protectors. "Nyet. They are nyet clones. They are bodies of fallen heroes. Brought back from brink of death, lobotomized and forced into slavery. From Thanh Ha information."

Bella felt sick. "Somehow that's even worse than Vahzilock."

So, evidently, did Soviet Winter. "Crey--even worse."

Komrad Vex sounded—smug. "An escort is not required, I assure you."

Still playing "good cop," Red Crosse was conceding even more, much to Bella's alarm. "I will come alone but you must allow to do two things then...take a blood sample and allow me to do a full medical scan...."

Bella felt time to stick her two cents in. "Crosse....meeting him alone is NOT wise."

Soviet Winter nodded vigorously. "She must not be allowed alone with him."

But to the relief of both of them, Red Crosse evidently had no intention of giving in to what Vex wanted. "I agree."

Komrad Vex now was back to being the puppetmaster as well as the puppet. "Scans are not permitted, blood is of no concern. You will not be needing them though."

"Take someone with you who can go invisible or otherwise stealthy," Bella urged. "Thanh Ha— Thanh Ha and Winter . Or all three of us."

Soviet Winter agreed. "Da all three would do well."

Red Crosse nodded and continued playing for information. "Vex, one could say your statement could have a dual meaning."

"I speak plainly," Vex asserted.

Now being conciliatory, Red Crosse said placatingly, "I agree you do. The question I raise isn't about what was spoken, it is about what you speak of."

Komrad Vex sounded as if he thought he had won. "I only wish to make you understand, that is all."

Sharp as a knife, Red Crosse was the one in control of the situation if only he knew it. "I know you don't want to hurt me. But, why do I get the feeling that understanding CC Hero is that I understand only after being sampled...."

Komrad Vex laid out his demand. "You may meet me at the Galaxy city arena if you wish to know more."

And now Red Crosse showed one of her own cards. "Can you do me a favor Vex?...can we stop calling it sample?..we both know it means termination and cloning. I will be there....on top."

Komrad Vex ignored the first statement. "I mean inside the arena, it is more private."

Bella felt her eyes widen in alarm. Inside the arena, where limits on powers were negated. Where—"He can take you down there. He wants to lure you in to combat you and take you—"

Red Crosse had an answer for that, and a good one. "You know I can not allow that, Vex. I am CCCP medical staff, I am not allowed by core policy to even consider such things. I have given my terms for meeting...you or CC Hero does not seem very willing to explain their stances."

Soviet Winter had another take on the idea though. "It may be his undoing if we can lure him in and then let me say ummh subdue him."

That was a good point. She and Winter were about the same security level, and between her powers and his…."Between the two of us we can probably take him quickly—"

"If he is still him," Red Crosse said warningly.

The Doctor was thinking faster than Bella was. "Damn. Hadn't thought of that."

"If this PP is what you say they are, they could have very well just killed him, cloned him and sent their 'him' out," the Doctor elaborated.

Yes. Enhanced, augmented, and boosted. We could quickly find ourselves in trouble.

Soviet Winter made a face. "Bah, my confidence is only exceeded by my abilities."

But even Thanh Ha seemed interested in the idea of trying to take him themselves. "If nyet, then he is subdued and we can turn over to Natalya to interrogate."

The Doctor looked thoughtful. "I am guessing he is not himself...as in not really him....which explains the blurts of warnings. I think this is a test...like a fever before the flu...just a test to see what we got and to soften us up."

Bella nodded. "Or killed and reprogrammed. Still, he's never seen me fight..... And if he has my OLD file, he doesn't know what I have now."

Oh, what she had now. She'd gone to a trainer and done some…rearranging and enhancement that was all new, geared specifically for working with Zach. Ideal for close combat. With a "surprise." Something most rad-based heroes never even thought of using because they were not aware what a gem of a power it was, if enhanced just right….

"I wasn't kidding," she continued. "I will yank out that belly ring and pulverize it if I see him again. Unless there's civvies in the rad-area."

Red Crosse nodded understanding. "There is no way I can meet him...I am not even close to fully powered yet... And I am not really even equipped to do anything besides treat him if I was." She continued with Vex. "Vex, so you are still unable to change the terms of meeting?"

Bella shrugged. "See, that's the one good thing I have going. I do have some heavy-duty offensive powers. Sometimes its not so bad to be a lowly paramedic."

Red Crosse made a sound like a sigh. "Trust me, being able to shoot back has its draw some days."

And then, like the voice of an angel, a new and immensely welcome voice on the comm. Commissar People's Blade. Bella could have wept with relief. "Ni hao!"

And Komrad Vex chimed in, that moment, just in time for Blade to hear him. "Will you meet with me Red Crosse?"

"Commissar!" Bella said, over secure private channel, "He just tried to nab me and Thanh!"

Instantly the Commissar grasped the situation—probably with the help of private secure messages from all four of them. "Komrad Vex, remain where you are!" she said over open channel.

And privately to Bella, she asked, "Where was he?"

And now—poor Blade. Good thing she was what she was. She was probably juggling secure messages and open like a street-performer with twenty balls in the air.

"The new Doc is playing expert headgames with him on the CCCP channel," Bella told her.

As Red Crosse said on open, "I for security reasons must hold to the escort...I am ONLY willing to break the rules if I am allowed a blood sample and a full medical scan."

And Bella told People's Blade, "He was here in GC. He may still be here."
And Vex said on open, "Ah comrade Blade, I require a sample from you also."

And Blade responded, calmly. "I am willing to give you one if I can speak to you."

"He wants to meet with the new Doc in the arena," Bella warned Blade on private.

Komrad Vex, however, was giving on a point. "Very well if you come without escort you may conduct any scans or tests you wish."

The Doctor established the secure team channel to the Commissar at that point. "I agree..we must get him to only agree to meet after my safe return," she was saying. Then, as People's Blade came on line, introduced herself. "Hello Comrade!! I am Red Crosse newly assigned doc for CCCP. I have been having a discussion with Vex..."

Bella automatically performed a slightly more informative introduction. "Commissar, the new Doc, Red Crosse, Commissar People's Blade, the nastiest thing with a sharp object since they invented flint knives."

It was quite surreal, actually, all this urgent comm. chat going on, while cits strolled back and forth, cars passed, and there wasn't even a single Hellion lingering near the gate…

People's Blade was already so far on top of the situation it made Bella's head swim. Within moments, she 'ported all four of them inside the Arena, while Vex was still saying, "Will you agree to meet now Red Crosse?"

"He is above us," Blade whispered. "Shhhh...."

"I am here..." the Doctor said, breaking off from the rest of them and heading upstairs. "I will meet you on the top level. Comrade Vex, I have read a little about the Komrad project. Very impressive history...."

Bella shot straight up and hovered near the ceiling as Crosse met with Vex.

Soviet Winter fretted. "I am not good at stealth, comrades—"

"You are if you stand still," Blade said.

They were all in position now. Crosse with Vex, Bella above them, unseen thanks to Thanh, and Blade, Thanh and Winter off to the side, on the stairs just out of sight but not earshot.

"I have him in my sights," she said grimly. "If I say run, RUN. If I deactivate the belly ring, I can rad him, but it will be lethal."

People's Blade had other ideas. "No. I will knock him unconscious first."

Komrad Vex sneered. "I am glad you agree to meet although you should not have come alone." And he vanished.

Into the Arena.

Red Crosse hesitated. "Well it is zero hour; do I enter or do I lose the chance for a sample..unless he destroys me completely once I have the sample."

People's Blade had a plan. Bella was going to follow it whatever it was. "Enter...but allow me to join you. Get him into the arena itself."

Red Crosse shrugged. "Well here goes the advancement of medical knowledge."

In she went, followed by all four of the rest of them.

The setting was bizarre. The hold of an old container ship, mostly empty. The allies were grouped together, but the Doctor and Vex were not in view.

But they could hear him. "You are low security clearance, and you should not trust those you do not know," he was saying nastily, as Bella and Thanh split up to scout.

"In fact, I would be a pretty useless sample…" Crosse replied as if it were of no moment to her.

"By the door!" Thanh called, and they converged.

"I am here to help you, comrade!" the Commissar said, as she unsheathed Jade Emperor's Whisper.

"I have been betrayed!" Vex exclaimed in dismay as the Doctor leapt out of reach and got behind Winter and Blade. "I will not surrender without a fight!"