End and Beginning

From the Story Arc: Legacy

Previous Story in the Arc: Transitions by Dr. Bella Dawn Parker (Thursday, March 16, 2006)

(posted Sunday, April 02, 2006)

Bella paused outside Nat and Mosca’s door, and waited a moment. If she heard yelling in there…

No, not yelling. In fact…she had a sudden sense of déjà vu, except that it wasn’t Nat she was recalling. It was herself, that terrible time when it seemed that the CCCP was falling apart, she was confined to a containment suit, Johnny Murdock’s fusion had gone all wrong, Sera was heartbroken, she herself was hopelessly in love with Zach who seemed forever out of reach….

That was the feeling of despair she sensed on the other side of that door. The despair of someone from whom everything they thought they had lived for was being taken away. The depression of someone who had just discovered that control of her life had been taken out of her hands.

Well, kids did that to you. But now was not the time to say so. Now was the time to do for Nat what Nat had done for her. Be a sestra.

She knocked on the door. Mosca answered it. The look in his eyes said it all; this was a man who had come to the end of the answers he knew how to provide. She gave him a reassuring smile.

They walked hand-in-hand down the grimy streets of King’s Row. This was an Hispanic neighborhood; women walked hand-in-hand or with sisterly arms around each other here all the time, so it excited no looks. What did excite interest was who they were. Bella and Saviour were no strangers here, far from it; the CCCP was welcome, warmly welcome, for all the help they provided here. And three generations of Hispanic mothers, from crones to teenagers, recognized her condition.

So…there were quiet, modest, congratulations. Advice by the bucketload, all of it practical, most of it good. Promises of food “just the thing in your condition.” And about the time Nat started to get a little irritated, Bella steered the walk over to a park where kids were playing. Playing because the CCCP had cleaned the place out, and no, they could play there, without fear of Hellions or Skulls, finding used ‘Dyne packets, or dodging bullets.

They leaned on the fence, and watched the kids. One little girl was dressed in black with a faded red shop-towel for a cape, and a big gold construction-paper star pinned to the front of her t-shirt. “Davey davey davey!” she was shouting at her gang. “Vamanos, muchachos! Let’s go!” And laughing, they all swooped away to another part of the park. “We show those swine-yas!”

Nat laughed, but there were tears in her eyes. Bella held her hand. “You see?” she said quietly. “They know. They understand. You make a difference to them, Nat. You show them how to be brave, how to find the fighter inside themselves.”

“And what, when those children find they have no powers?” Saviour asked, bitterly. “I have shown them a lie—“

But Bella shook her head. “When they find they have to powers, Nat, they find they still have courage. Come on, I want to show you something else.”

She took Nat’s hand and led her, unresisting, down the street a little, to a courtyard, now padded with the remains of carpeting torn out and discarded, where three dozen people, led by someone with gang-banger tattoos that were half-erased, were going through katas. Kids, old women, mothers, teens—

Four or five more were working out stick-fighting against padded poles, using the Hellion’s weapon-of-choice, the baseball bat.

“That’s Carlos, the Skull,” Bella said very quietly, nodding at the one leading the katas. “You busted him—“

“I remember,” Nat said, with a look of surprise. “Over and over, I sent him to Zig—“

“And finally you told him that you weren’t going away, so he had better figure out how to change and help his own people instead of hurting them. Eventually he got the idea. He runs an appliance repair shop now. But he does this every spare moment. The other guy over there is one of his buddies.” She paused. “We still keep busting most of the same ones over and over. But these two…this is what the ordinary people are doing now, Nat. You showed them where to find the will to fight back. And you showed them that they have to do it as a community, as a group, because that’s what we do. That’s a lesson that’s not going to go away. They patrol themselves, now, take on the common thugs and leave us the metas, the mages. They even get Zig tags from Hero Corps from us; bag and tag just like we do. On the paperwork I call them the ‘YC Irregulars’ and no one’s complained yet. Of course, getting your head busted by a babushka is not gonna earn you Zig points, so that’s probably why no one they’ve put there is telling the truth,” She paused again. “You didn’t know this? Nat, this is bigger than you or me. This is legend now. This is the gift you gave these people that will go right on giving.”

“And now I f---“

“Don’t you dare say that,” Bella interrupted. “Now you go to raise another generation of Red Saviours. You go to give this baby an even better education than you had. You show this baby all the things you did right and wrong. And this baby, and maybe more like him, will go—somewhere, I don’t know where, and do the same for those people. Do it for the people. Just like you. And you’ll come back here, and these people, your people, will hold a fiesta because their Saviour is back to show them how else they can find bravery in themselves, and take back their lives from the Countess Creys, the crazed occultists, the gang-bangers who are stealing their kids.”

Now, finally, Nat turned to look her in the eyes. “You are stronger than I thought….”

“Because I learned from you.”

Saviour gazed at her searchingly. “This is not my home. Not the tradition, the legacy, I want for my baby.”

Bella nodded. “And that’s right and proper. You want your child to come out of the same place you did. That’s where your strength was built.”

“But—“ Nat looked from the martial-arts group, to Bella and back again. “But this is where yours—was. And there are comrades now here who…how do you say?...relate to this. Not just the Amerikanski. Russians too. I would never have thought, but…” she shook her head.

“Some things need to stay the same. Some things need to change. The trick is figuring them out.”

The faces of the CCCP scrolled through Saviour’s mind in that moment, and she was saddened by how many old ones were gone; lost, gone home, vanished without a trace. But there were new ones to replace them…and she realized in that moment how many of them were something other than Russian. CCCP had truly become internationalized. For a moment she felt a sense of outrage—

But then the outrage was replaced by epiphany. What, after all, was the Communist anthem? “The Internationale.” French. Speaking of globalism. If she was to be really true to the spirit of Marx—

If she could find the right leadership for the CCCP---

Zach, Bestial Boy…too American. Bella? International enough, but…tougher now, but still not hard enough to handle her Russians. Untermensch? He’d have the Americans and Cubans and other non-Russians in an uproar, and he would never file the paperwork….

“The Gang of Four,” Bella was saying wistfully.

“What?” Saviour responded, startled.

“I was saying, I wished I could have been here for that. The Gang of Four.”

A second epiphany in as many minutes. Of course! That was the answer! No one person in the CCCP had everything it took to lead them, and lead them properly—but—in the beginning—

Neither did I.

But there was just one problem. Or was it a problem?

“You remember, I told you, sestra, you and Zach should go and make American version of CCCP—“

“And I told you there was no point in reinventing the wheel and weakening the impact of what the CCCP does by dividing it.” Bella shook her head. “That’s still not the answer, Nat.”

“No. But this, maybe, is. Bella, I make you, Unter, and Communard Commissars. We have new Gang of Four with Zach. And I go to Moscow, Mosca and I go to Moscow.”

She waited to hear Bella reject the title and the responsibility. She always had shown no interest in any such thing before; a rabid rejection of any such idea, in fact.

But Bella nodded, slowly. “That is an honor beyond my expectation, Nat. And a brilliant idea. Thank you. I accept. We’ll take good care of this baby. You go take care of the new one.”

Relief spread over Red Savoiur like a blanket, and with it the conviction that this was the right, the proper, the only answer.

“But there’s an empty chair over there, and a job that desperately needs doing, you know,” Bella continued. “Moscow liaison. The position Worker’s Champion held. It will mean a lot of hard work and headache. A lot of fighting and politics.”

“Bah, fighting with the old men and the corrupt.” A gleam was in Nat’s eye, a gleam that Bella was happy to see replacing the depression. “Da, it is a job that needs doing. As you say, desperately.”

“And you can make them look at what Zach and I are doing with financing, and make them understand it is time they thought hard about keeping our good will,” Bella responded, a gleam in her own eye. “You will be the 600 pound gorilla, once they realize you have that particular nine-iron in your bag.”

“Shto?” Saviour said, eyebrow raised, then corrected. “Never mind. Am getting the sense of it. Da…da. We do this thing. Let’s go back to Headquarters. Is much paperwork to do. And airplane tickets to buy. And old men in Moscow to make tremble in boots.” She grinned ferally. “You must have iron fist in velvet glove, sestra.”

“We must, Saviour,” Bella corrected, with a smile. “We. All four of us. Together. With you keeping an eye on us and coming back by Portal to excoriate the hell out of us if we take things too far or can’t manage to work things out. Deal?”

“Da,” Saviour replied, hurrying her steps towards HQ. “Is bolshoi deal.”