My Baby Shot Me Down: Part One

From the Story Arc: Trench Warfare

Previous Story in the Arc: On a Destructive Path by Agn Stratonik (Sunday, July 31, 2005)

Next Story in the Arc: My Baby Shot Me Down: Part Two by Agn Stratonik (Wednesday, September 21, 2005)

(posted Monday, September 19, 2005)

I hate going behind the backs of my comrades like this… being so underhanded and conspicuous…being a traitor, in a sense. Where do my loyalties lie? With Mother Russia and my commanders that stand above me or the CCCP, a shadow of obscurity that I am made to think threatens both the United States and the goals of Russia itself? I do not know. A year has nearly passed since I joined the ranks of the CCCP and I am still unclear who is ally or foe.

The table at which I am sitting in this large conference room is like a medieval round table with the commanding General sitting in the midst of us lower ranking officials. This creates an illusion that we are all equal, but we are not. This is Russia, after all. The sheer totalitarian magnitude of the Russia ideology is scary, in thought. The lengths we Russians go through to get the job done and the aggressive attitude we carry has instilled fear in the hearts of people world-wide for decades. Germans… Nazis ran to the arms of American soldiers in World War II for fear of what the soldiers of the Hammer and Sickle would do to them. It wasn’t incarceration or trial in front of a tribunal or court room… it was trial by combat standards and instant execution. Even without the former Soviet Union in power of Russia, the same aggressive attitude still exists.

Two years ago, I received a report on my desk from a terrorist-related altercation. Five Czech terrorists took over an office building in downtown St. Petersburg and were making demands to have fellow terrorists released from prison or they’d kill all 200+ workers inside the building. A Spetsnaz unit was brought in to handle the situation and handle it they did. Three members of the Spetsnaz team snuck inside the building, kidnapped one of the terrorists and brought him to the roof, where he was promptly beheaded. His head was then tossed into the building with a note attached to it that read, “Surrender, or you’re next.” The remaining four terrorists surrendered within three minutes of receiving the letter.

All these men that I sit with now, including me, would have done the same. Zero Tolerance is what General Krupt constantly drills into our heads, especially mine as he sees I now remember what it is that my job was. To kill the Red Saviour, my beautiful Natalya, is something I could never do… yet, I’d do it to preserve the glory of my Motherland. Why did I forget? Was the whole brainwashing memory a ploy? Blood… I can taste it running up esophagus.

“Excuse me, comrades.”

I get up from the table and hurry out the conference room door to the nearest restroom. I’m almost tripping over my own feet. I don’t need this kind of crap today. I rush into the restroom and hurriedly close the door and lock it, then lean into the sink. Blood is pouring out of my mouth like vomit. The smell of it makes me vomit even more. I can’t take this anymore.

“What is wrong with me,” I mutter as I look into the mirror, using a paper towel to wipe the blood away from my mouth. I turn on the water to rinse the blood out of the sink and I think about John Murdock and Seraphic Flame. Murdock thought very well that I was suffering from the same problem that he was…a problem that resulted in his joining with a Kheldian just to stay alive. He believed that the same was happening to me that night we saved Madame Molotov from an underground Council prison. I coughed up blood then, making everyone think something happened to me, but it was an ongoing problem. Poor Molotov… she felt so guilty.

“It wasn’t your fault, Molotov…”

Nearly three months ago, while I was dismantling a Council base, I came to an empty room, or what I thought was empty. Imagine my surprise when a Vampyr lieutenant landed on top of me from the ceiling above and injected a substance into my body via a needle and syringe. I killed the bastard before I could get any answers and ever since that night, I’ve progressively gotten worse.

Seraphic Flame said it could possibly be a card the Council is holding in their hand to get what they want. What they want is the M.A.T.A.H.U.R.I.A. serum. Flame and Murdock know my secret… I told them I was sent here to kill Red Saviour. What if they tell her? Maybe they just think I’m crazy… that I have a few bats short of a belfry. Belladonna Aura wants to assess me… what if she finds out what my mission is or the gene containing the serum? What if she finds what’s making my blood burn worse each day I wake up? What if I never complete my mission?!

A knock on the door interrupts my thoughts.

“Colonel Stratonik, are you alright,” a soft-spoken young woman asks through the door.

“Yes…yes I’m fine. I’ll be out momentarily.”

I take another look in the mirror. Am I really going insane? When I speak, I feel like inane babble is spewing out of my mouth. When I think, voices pour into my head and speak to me loudly, swallowing all my thoughts. What has happened to me? Is my end near? Is there nothing I can do? My cellular phone rings. I answer it.

“Hello,” I answer in English, my voice half shaken as I shrug off my dismay,

“Agn, this is Bella. How are you?”

“Comrade Belladonna… I am well. How are you?”

“I’m fine. You know, you did not come to see me before you left. Why did you leave without telling any of us?”

“I do not need a babysitter. I left because I had business to attend to. Seeing you was very low on my list of priorities.”

“Agn… Flame and John told me you were coughing up blood. That is very serious. Are you sure you’re feeling alright?”

“It is my problem, comrade. Do not concern yourself.”

She grunts and exhales deeply.

“What is it with you silent types, Agn? You distance yourself from those around you and don’t let people in. Why is that so difficult?”

“I am sure you’ve read my file by now, seeing as you’re an Official and Medical Professional. I have my reasons. My goal in life is to be strong and independent… I am not worrisome American.”

“Neither am I, but I do care for all of you.”

“As do I.”

Her voice has become more relaxed. I imagine in my head that she’s leaning against a wall with her arms cross. A moment of silence… too long for her, but not long enough for me.

“Did they tell you anything else?”

“About what, Agn?”

“About anything.”

“Other than that you are ill? Nothing at all. They are worried that maybe you have been suffering from stress lately, or that you have been reading one too many books from whatever talk you had with them.”

She chuckles lightly. I smile, even though I know it to be false.

“Why are you such a mystery, Agn Stratonik?”

I smile with only one side of my face as if the other were paralyzed to the thought of it.

“I am no mystery. I just have not met a person brave enough to figure me out.”

“That time will come, Agn.”

“We shall see. I must go, Bella. I have a meeting I must reenter. I… I appreciate your phone call and concern.”

“You’re welcome, Mr. Stratonik.”

I hang up. I feel better. I’m smiling. Why can’t everyday be this way? My friends, my comrades: I’ve fought with you, bled with you and have nearly died with you. I love you all…