Legacy, Part Two: Gravity

From the Story Arc: Legacy

Previous Story in the Arc: Legacy, Part One: The Ice by Worker's Champion (Saturday, March 11, 2006)

Next Story in the Arc: Legacy, Part Three: Death by Worker's Champion (Saturday, March 11, 2006)

(posted Saturday, March 11, 2006)

“Dobry vecher, mi corazon.” Mosca winked at Natalya from behind the creased spine of his Russian in Two Weeks book. His accent was charmingly awful.

“Two weeks, eh, darlink? What have you learned?” She retucked her uniform shirt over her belly. It seemed that the baby had annexed new territory overnight; nothing fit her now.

“That Spanish, it is even more beautiful a language than I could have dreamed.” He gave her a heartbreaking, mischievous grin. “But Russian is solid, like eating potatoes.”

“Good enough. I quiz you when patrol is over.”

Mosca scowled at her. “I thought we had agreed to hand over your patrols to Fei Li. She offered, querida.”

“Da, she offered two months ago. These days no one can find her, and when she does make appearance she only speaks Chinese. Unless she is lecturing on me about martial arts, I am nyet understanding a word.” She shook her head. “Something is wrong, darlink. I am bad friend for taking no action.”

“It is change, I am thinking.” Mosca stood and crossed the room to her, book in his hand. “A force more powerful than any other criminal we’ve encountered.”

“Communist is on forefront of change,” she asserted, while trying to convince her shirt to stay in place. Mosca gave it an obliging tug. “I won’t hide in bedroom as helpless mother to be.”

“I know.” He kissed her cheek. “But take care of our boy.”

“Girl.”

“Boy.” He patted her belly. “He’s got the strength of a Ferrer.”

“Bozemoi. Go study, foolish man. I come back early.” She stepped out onto the fire escape. Entire weeks could pass between uses of the apartment door. “Dobry vecher, nyet?”

“Hasta luego, mi corazon.”

Red Saviour took a whiff of air. It stank of car fumes, industrial waste, and garbage. Typical for King’s Row. She’d be sure to pull some strings to get them a home in a decent Moscow neighborhood.

She squatted a few times to stretch her legs, then stepped up on the rail and launched herself into the air. The familiar flow of mystical energy coursed through her, pushing her out over the alleyway. Below her, clotheslines dangled underwear like pennants. It will be a good day, she thought.

And then the energy ceased.

Like a clogged faucet, the energy backed up in her body, gushing out of her eyes, harmless, but in the wrong direction. She was no longer flying – had never even started. There was a stomach wrenching lurch, and she fell.

After only a moment of disbelief, her reflexes kicked in. She angled her body to catch the nearest clothesline. It snapped under her weight. The next line was no more than twine. Three remained underneath, none of substantial thickness.

Below them, open air, then asphalt.

Red Saviour wasted no time with fear. Instead of hoping the lines could halt her fall, she swung on them for the brief moment before they became dislodged to move herself towards the other building. Her goal: a second story fire escape ladder.

The last clothesline gave after only a second. She was ten feet above the fire escape, and an agonizing three feet out. She’d miss it. Rage filled her as the sidewalk loomed in her vision.

A gout of energy burped forth from her feet, putting the fire escape within reach. Her fingers brushed the metal rail, scrabbled for purchase… but were ripped free by her velocity.

She hit the ground feet first, rolling onto her shoulder with the impact that shook her entire skeleton. Pain flared in her ankle. The baby bounced against her womb walls, but she let her hips and arms take the brunt of the impact to protect it. She tumbled across the pavement right into a collection of garbage cans, hitting them like a bowling ball.

“Natalya!” Mosca’s voice echoed in the alley. She couldn’t respond – the wind had been knocked out of her. She pushed away her fear and tried to catalog her injuries. A sprained ankle, surely – and some serious bruises on her right side. Her body ached, but nothing was broken.

Mosca leapt down their own fire escape like a monkey, his muscles bulging with effort as he flipped over the last rail and hit the ground running.

“Querida!” His face was contorted with distress.

“I’m fine. Govno.” The curse alleviated some of her embarrassment and pain. “Fine, fine. Just a slip.”

“You fell five stories.” He began to probe her limbs. “What happened?” His warrior’s reflexes took over, and he scanned the alley in a heartbeat. “Who did it?”

“Was me, dum dum,” she said in an annoyed voice. “I could nyet fly. Is nothing.”

“Nothing to you, but the baby… I am calling 911.”

“Nyet!” She slapped his arm. “No doctors. I cannot stand the nagging. I am fine.”

“My baby is not fine. I am calling for help.” His eyes became steely.

“Your baby?”

“Yours too, Natya. This has gone on long enough.” Mosca’s voice softened. “No more patrols, no more fighting. Por favor.”

Their eyes met. She saw the love and concern in his eyes, and more: a realization that no amount of confidence could withstand the realities of the human body. He had accepted it long before she had.

“No doctors,” she repeated, intimidated by the deeper understanding. “Call Jadwiga if you must.”

“Natya.”

Something broke in her heart. “Carry me back upstairs. We’ll work on your Russian today.” She squeezed his hand, wondering if he understood the sense of loss that blotted out the pain of the fall.

“Horosho, querida.” With infinite gentleness, Mosca lifted his wife in his arms.