Part 6: Toy Soldiers

From the Story Arc: The Hunt For Krasniy Oktyabr

Previous Story in the Arc: Part 5: House Call Part II: Bedside Manner by Nova Requiem (Tuesday, December 13, 2005)

Next Story in the Arc: Part 7: Brown December (The Revolution Will Not Be Televised" by Krasniy Oktyabr (Sunday, December 18, 2005)

(posted Wednesday, December 14, 2005)

Blaze Phoenyx picked up the memo waiting on the printer tray and looked it over.

This jus' keeps gettin' weirder... thought John, shaking his head. Nova Requiem was a good kid, but John couldn't help but wonder if all this business with her missing uncle was making the girl crack.

The outlined plan was simple. But would it work? Well, only one way to find out.

Secure a Clockwork power source.

That was easy enough. The little buggers were everywhere in Kings Row, tearing apart construction sites, power substations, even rooftop A/C units. In fact, there was a group of them cobbling together one of their bigger "princes" in an empty lot not far from headquarters. John flew in blasted the robots to scrap before they even knew what hit them. He swooped down, and sifted through the pieces for a power source before it all vanished. Done and done. Now, the second part...

Refill the device with psychic energies.

Now how the hell was he supposed to do that? John turned the device over in his hands, looking at it curiously. It looked for all the world like a small junction box. It probably had been before the Clockwork refitted it for their use. With a shrug, Blaze Phoenyx opened his mind and projected his presence into the box, like letting someone know he was in their mind without actually talking to them. For a minute, nothing happened. Then, the sound of gears winding up made John grin.

Whaddya know, thought John, it did work.

Seek out the mind of Krasniy Oktyabr. You will need a basic imprint of his psychic signature, and for this I willingly allow all capable to scan my mind for memories of him.

John wished Sera were around for this. Yeah, he could do it, but she was more proficient at this sort of thing. Plus, she had asked him to. Taking a deep breath, John reached out with his thoughts for Nova Requiem. He found her, curled up on a cot in HQ in an exhausted sleep. Nova was dreaming, and ever so gently John looked in on the dream. There was a crowd standing around in an open courtyard, snow lightly falling. There was Nataliya Novakovski, standing in front of a choir of children and teenagers in Party uniforms and leading them in song. Nataliya lifted her alto voice with enthusiasm. John didn't understand much Russian, but the song itself was stirring.

Fascinating as the dream was, it didn't help John much. Just as he began pulling back, one face in the crowd stuck out. There stood Krasniy Oktyabr, just as his file photo captured him. He could only guess that the others around him were family, for they all beamed with pride at Nataliya. John fixed his gaze on the man, and reached out again with his thoughts. The impression was strong, all right. Enough to get a fix on him, provided he was still somewhere in Paragon City.

The figure of Krasniy Oktyabr turned his head and stared curiously in John's direction, like someone had called his name and searching the crowd. John hadn't fully entered the dream, so he had no tangible form in it. Still, it was as good a time as any to leave. Blaze Phoenix withdrew from Nova Requiem's mind as silently as he'd entered it, and opened his eyes.

Seek out the mind of Krasniy Oktyabr...

Blaze Phoenyx stared at the power source, gears still whirring along. He shook his head, thinking, This is nuts!

He opened his mind once again, this time directing it at the Clockwork device. John didn't really know what to expect, so the cacophony of voices that exploded inside his head was just as surprising as anything else. The number of voices was countless, relaying input from all over Paragon City. John didn't dare enter deeper into this madness. Being on the periphery would be enough to seek out one specific "pattern" without drawing unwanted attention. John probed away at the Clockwork Mind.

After a few minutes, John found what felt to be a match. It was extremely weak, but there was no doubt that the psychic signature matched what he had copied from Nova Requiem's mind. The pattern seemed to be emanating from Steel Canyon, and growing fainter. Blaze Phoenyx hurled the power source off into the distance and flew as fast as
he could.

John Murdock had Krasniy Oktyabr in Mind.

"Hello?!" called out Blaze Phoenix. "Anyone in 'ere?"

The laboratory in Steel Canyon was filled with a familiar scent of oily smoke and ozone, and the noise of whirring and grinding gears was loud enough to set anyone on edge. Blaze Phoenyx was already on edge, and barely noticed. He had other things occupying his mind. Namely, finding the mind of Krasniy Oktyabr in the chaos of the Clockwork Mind around him. Standing there in the entryway, John reached out once more for the man. It was like trying to pick out one whispering voice at a packed football stadium.

<Unknown presence in Mind...Beginning purge...>

<What the hell?>

Blaze Phoenyx gritted his teeth as a psychic "static" began filling his head. Seemed the football stadium didn't want someone rooting for a different team. It was an easy enough thing to withdraw, but damn it, John was going to find his man. Then, amongst the angry clamoring, one voice stood out from the rest.

<Unit K senses familiarity with unknown Mind...halting purge...>

The static died away, and Blaze Phoenyx shook his head as if to clear it. He could still sense this new presence in his mind, and tentatively probed the periphery of the Clockwork collective for a fix on its location. He found it quickly, deep inside the lab and stationary. Blaze Phoenyx soared through the corridors and test chambers, smashing aside any of the hapless robots that got in his way. The sound of whirring and grinding gears was replaced with loud crashes and tearing metal.

<Whom am I contacting?> thought Blaze.

<Unknown Mind in contact with Unit K. Unit K reports that organic components have ceased functioning. Is Mind of designation: Tasha?>

Blaze Phoenix broke a Sprocket over his knee and tossed the two halves to opposite sides of the room. He paused and arched an eyebrow, oblivious to the bolts of electricity dissipating harmlessly off of him.

<I'll pretend I understood most of that>, answered Blaze. <This is Lt. John Murdock with the CCCP. I'm here searching for a missing comrade of ours, one Krasniy Oktyabr. Krasniy the 'organic component'?>

There was a brief pause. <Unit K and Unit Aleksandr are one.>

Scowling, Blaze Phoenyx exploded with Kheldian energy, flinging the rest of the Clockwork around him across the room. He didn't need to hear anymore. He had his fix on the signature. He flew as fast as he could through the lab, and up to the next floor. And there, in the main research room, an unmoving human form was lying on a
workstation platform and surrounded by Clockwork. There was no doubt, it was Krasniy Oktyabr.

"Aw, shit..." muttered Blaze, and then called out, "Hold on, comrade!"

Blaze Phoenyx tore through the room in a righteous fury. The Clockwork robots went flying in all directions, unable to mount a suitable defense against this new intruder. In short order, the room was littered with Clockwork parts. Blaze Phoenix landed on the platform and knelt down next to Krasniy Oktyabr's unconscious body.

"Comrade? Krasniy?" called out Blaze. "Can you hear me, comrade?"

<Unit Aleksandr convinced Unit K to become free from Mind...> offered Unit K, <Sought source of Mind...Mind resisted.>

Blaze Phoenix removed a glove, placing his bare hand on Krasniy's shoulder. Tentatively, he eased down his mental defenses and barriers, edging into the fallen man's mind.

There was another pause. <Unit K reports Unit Aleksandr is unconscious. Unit K lacks means for resuscitation of Unit Aleksandr.>

Blaze cursed under his breath, and refocused his concentration.

<Unit Aleksandr has given Unit K desire for independence from Mind...> explained Unit K, <Unit K will not interfere with process to awaken Unit Aleksandr>

Blaze let out his breath in relief. <Good...Unit K, I will apply a device to your and Aleksandr's body. It will allow you to initiate a protocol that will take you to the CCCP HQ in King's Row. That is Home. Will you cooperate...comrade? Once there, I can heal you and Aleksandr.>

<Unit K...complies.>

Blaze Phoenyx nodded, pouring assurance and understanding into his connection with Krasniy. <I'm breaking off connection with you...I'm nowhere near the telempath my friends are. Once you are transported, it is imperative that you stay put. If anyone questions you, tell them that you are operating under my orders. Are you ready?>

<Unit K senses persistent inquiries of Mind,> answered Unit K, <Demanding re-link with Mind. Expediency is needed. Proceed, Unit Lieutenantjohnmurdock.>

Blaze slowly eased his consciousness from the connection, bringing his mental barriers back up. He pulled a small adhesive patch from a pouch on his hip; An emergency teleporter beacon, keyed for the CCCP HQ's medbay. John placed the patch on Krasniy's shoulder, smoothing it out.

<Now, Unit K!> called out John with a mental shout.

The unconscious body of Krasniy Oktyabr faded from view.

Aleksandr Stanislav groaned in pain. His eye fluttered open. He could tell he was in a medical facility of some kind, stretched out on a surgical bed. It wasn't any of the hospitals he had ever visited.

The comm on Aleksandr's belt crackled into life. "If there's anyone on the comm, I need 'em in HQ, stat! Full-on emergency, and bring some green pills."

That voice...Aleksandr was sure he'd never heard it before, and yet it was somehow...familiar. Aleksandr slowly sat up, every muscle aching in protest. He sat there on the edge of the bed, willing the world to stop spinning. A man in black with a red scarf ran into the room, and regarded Aleksandr wearily.

" that you, comrade?" asked the man.

Krasniy Oktyabr blinked heavily, a strange recognition falling into place. "L-Lieutenant Murdock, is it? Da, is Aleksandr."

Blaze Phoenix pulled off his scarf, threw it aside and started rushing around the medbay, grabbing medical supplies.

"Comrade, lay back," ordered Blaze. "We'll get you sorted out."

John activated his wrist comm and said, "Folks, do we have any healers on patrol? Seriously injured comrade in the CCCP HQ, and he needs medical service now."

"I remember...entering building," said Krasniy to no one in particular. "Unit K, it found all fuzzy. Need sleep..."

Blaze stopped rushing about for a moment and placed a reassuring hand on the cyborg's shoulder.

"Comrade, lay down,” ordered Blaze. “We've got some folks comin' to help you. Y'need rest, right now. We can sort out what happened later."

Krasniy leaned back, letting his chin fall forward. "I remember...Tasha's voice, calling me. How she managed this from Russia, who knows..."

Blaze picked up a hypo filled with powerful sedatives. "Tasha...Nova Requiem? Comrade; she's here. You're both members of the CCCP. Don't worry 'bout that now. You've been through a helluva lot."

With a quick swipe of an alcohol swab, Blaze stuck the needle into Krasniy's arm.

Krasniy Oktyabr blinked heavily. " Tash...spas..." he said, drifting off as the sedative took effect.

The comms crackled once more. "My allies in the CCCP," came the voice of Golden Eagle, "my wife Veronica Havoch is a powerful healer. She and I are at your disposal. Do you still need medical assistance, CCCP?"

Blaze thumbed his comm and replied, "Roger that, GE."

Blaze looked around at the assorted wrappers from medical supplies, and other messes he made in his hurry. "Shit," he muttered, "Bella, why aren't ya on duty?"

Another voice came through on the CCCP channel. "Toi dem, nguoi ban," greeted Social Medicine.

Blaze perked up. "Thahn ha, to the HQ now!" he barked into the comm. "We have an emergency and you're just the person we need. Hit the medbay when you get here."

"Thanh Ha en route," replied Social Medicine.

Within moments, three more had entered the CCCP Headquarters. Golden Eagle, Veronica Havoch and Social Medicine rushed into the medbay and stared at the man on the surgical bed in shock. Blaze started punching commands into the keyboard, automated medical machinery whirring into action. He looked at the arrival with an expression of relief.

"Thahn ha, it's Krasniy," explained John, "we've got him."

Social Medicine did a double take at the dormant cyborg. "Oktyabr ban!" she cried out in disbelief.

As if on cue, the man lifted his head and the Clockwork optical receptor flared on.

"Unit K queries Unit Lieutenantjohnmurdock... Is Unit Aleksandr functioning correctly?"

Blaze nodded. "He's doin' fine, Unit K; we're just makin' sure of it right now."

Social Medicine rolled up her sleeves. "Tuyet. Please, John ban, step out of way."

Blaze nodded and backed away to let the professional do her thing.

"Unit K complies," the cyborg replied, turning to look at the Chinese medic. "Unit K greets Unit Thahnha."

Social Medicine picked up a medical scanner and began going over Oktyabr.

Blaze said, "Get him squared away, Thahn ha...he was in with the Clockwork for a good while...they've attached to him." Turning to Golden Eagle, he added, "We've got it covered, Alex."

"Are you sure?" asked Golden Eagle.

Blaze Phoenyx nodded. "We've just recovered Krasniy Oktyabr from the Cockwork."

Veronica Havoch bit her lip. "Is he...okay?"

Blaze glanced over at Krasniy. "He'll be fine...I hope."

The cyborg regarded Golden Eagle. "Unit K will enter shut-down mode for Unit Thahnha's diagnosis of Unit Aleksandr," he said.

The eyepiece dimmed once more and Krasniy slumped forward.

Golden Eagle arched an eyebrow. "That doesn't seem...normal."

Social Medicine tapped at the scanner. "Is some issues with flesh surrounding implants."

"Necrotic, Thahn ha?" asked Blaze.

Social Medicine checked the read-out. "Hmm. Scan shows it to be yes, John ban.”

Blaze grimaced, "It's dead stuff, then. Clean and dress it as best you can, and--hell, you know what to do better'n I do."

Veronica Havoch scowled, "I so hate the Clockwork."

Blaze Phoenyx asked, "Are we recording all of this? In case we have to put 'im back together?" He looked around the medbay. "Where's that damned switch..." he muttered.

Golden Eagle looked around at the second-hand equipment. "I don't see any."

Blaze Phoenyx looked over to Alex. "Best if you lit out, comrade. We've got him covered, for now."

Golden Eagle answered, "Very well. I am at your disposal if you need me."

Blaze Phoenyx nodded. "Thanks for the quick response, comrade."

"Come my dear," said Golden Eagle, holding his hand out to his wife.

"Okay", replied Veronica Havoch, taking his hand. She turned to the others in the room.

"Take care, Krasniy," she said to the comatose cyborg. "Good luck. Nice seeing you all again."

Throwing the two heroes a quick salute, Blaze turned to the Chinese medic.

"What's the word, Thahn ha?" asked Blaze. "Am I buying another bunk or a bodybag?"

Social Medicine smacked the heel of her palm against the medical scanner and cursed, mumbling something about a bad connection. She walked over to a workstation and began diagnosing the diagnostic device.

Without warning, Krasniy Oktyabr slipped off the surgical bed. The air around him crackled with electricity.

"GYYAAAAHH" he screamed, flinging his arms out. A ball of lightning exploded around Krasniy and the equipment in the medbay shut down, overloading the surge protectors. Blaze threw his hands up to ward off the energy. The electricity dissipated and Krasniy Oktyabr slumped to his knees, groaning.

Blaze stepped forward cautiously. "Unit K? Alek?"

Krasniy sucked in a few breaths of air. "It would seem....His "Majesty"...does not like rebellious...subjects," he wheezed.

"Krasniy...are you alright?" asked Blaze.

Krasniy unsteadily got to his feet and leaned against the bed. "Is nothing...sleeping for year...can't fix," he answered, "Is unfortunate...we do not have...that much time..."

Blaze Phoenyx regarded the cyborg seriously, "I need to know; are you yourself? Do you have control over yourself?"

Krasniy nodded. "D-da. Control is mine. Unit K and I have...understanding."

Blaze Phoenyx continued to stare at Krasniy. "Are you free from the influence of the Clockwork King?" he asked, "If you're still a security liability, we can handle it. But I need to know."

Krasniy Oktyabr shook his head. "As long as distance is maintained, is no problem. Unit K, he fights with me, but is still part of Mind."

Something had been bugging Blaze, and this seemed the best time to ask. "What is this "Unit K"?"

Krasniy Oktyabr blinked. "Is hard to explain. A mental offspring of King and me. Unit K was created when King..." he paused, shuddering, "modified me."

Blaze Phoenyx asked, "'Mental offspring'? You mean like some sort've divergent personality?"

"Da, something like that," confirmed Krasniy. "All His subjects are one with Mind...had to suppress my personality."

Blaze Phoenyx thought for a moment. "So he created one to supplant your personality," he postulated. "Thus, Unit K."

Krasniy Oktyabr nodded. "Created from dormant parts of psyche, so is much part of me as apart."

One of Aleksandr's legs gave out, but he caught himself on the edge of the bed before doing another faceplant. Blaze Phoenyx placed his arm around the man and helped him up.

"Krasniy, you've gotta rest," insisted Blaze. "We can get ya debriefed later, when one of the Commissars is here for it. Right now though, y'need to let our med personnel do their work."

Krasniy Oktyabr said, "Da, is for the best. Spasibo, comrade Murdock. Tell Tasha I am safe. she deserves that much."

Blaze Phoenyx nodded. "I'll get her on the comm, stat. Right now, lay down in the surgery bay. Our Auto-doc will take care of ya."

Krasniy stumbled over to the surgery bed and rolled onto it. The sedatives were still kicking around in his system, and sleep was not far off.

Blaze Phoenyx threw a salute to his rescued comrade. He dimmed the lights in the medbay and hesitantly said, "It's good to meetcha, comrade."