Wake-Up Call

From the Story Arc: Battle Stations!

Next Story in the Arc: Distant Early Warning by John Murdock (Wednesday, April 05, 2006)

(posted Tuesday, April 04, 2006)

It was the usual beginning to the usual sort of day at CCCP HQ. Commissar Communard was late, as ever. Commissar Untermensch was already doing calisthenics in the courtyard, as ever. Commissar Bestial Boy was back in Washington again. So Commissar Bella was on time, in the infirmary.

Her desk there doubled as her active Commissar's desk. When she sat down, it was already completely covered. Patrol logs and reports, equipment requests, training rosters; it never seemed to end. Most of the records were computerized, but there still seemed to be a mess of it that needed to be done in hardcopy. Many a tree had been felled in the name of the CCCP.

She eyed it with disfavor. "WAITRON!" she yelled. The former service bot poked her head around the door. "Yes Commissar? May I offer you a tasty beverage?"

"Hot coffee, double cream and sugar, and can you DO something about all this?"

Waitron ducked out for a moment, and came back with the requested drink. Tilting her head to one side, she surveyed the desk. "I believe you will find that these are all Commissar Untermensch's papers," the bot replied, deftly sorting a pile and stacking it. "And these are Communard's. And these are Zach's."

Bella's expression softened at Zach's name, and she sighed. "All right. What do you suggest?"

"Well, Commissar Untermensch's routine response would be to feed it all to comrade Chug---" the bot's lips curled up in a metallic smirk. "But he's still asleep."

"Oh lord god, give me strength..." Bella groaned. "Can we....scan this, have you fill it in, reprint it then--"

Waitron's eyes glowed. "I can duplicate the handwriting of all of our Comrades, Commissar. Wouldn't it be easier if I just filled these forms in for them?"

Bella's eyes glowed too. "Why Waitron," she said sweetly. "That would be forgery." She smiled. "Do it," she said, "But...with....hmm. What sort of creative touches, I wonder?" She pondered. "Add to Unter's requisition fifty gallons of pink paint and orders to repaint his quarters. Add to Communard's usual request to install nasal shunts a request to have one installed in himself at Chiron. And..." then she sighed. "I'll take care of Zach's. That's no trouble."

Archon Kreinholz looked over the plans of the CCCP headquarters one more time. Taken from the Paragon City Planning Commission files, they had all the changes the CCCP had made when they first took over the derelict warehouse in King's Row. The place was built like a bunker, brick and reinforced concrete and steel I-beams and no windows to speak of. Presumably the wretched Communists thought this made them impregnable.

They were about to find out differently.

The Archon had been planning this little war for a long time, a very, very long time. From the moment that the last of his shattered forces had crawled back into their base on Striga Island after the assault led by People's Blade, he had been planning this strike. All over that wretched vampyr-hunter, that pale faced creature Althea Nagy...

Well not precisely over her, since her capture and execution had been meant to disgrace Red Saviour...

The forces of the Council had been annihilated. People's Blade had led the strike force to Striga to distract the Council leadership from the extraction team at Founder's Falls that meant to rescue the girl;

It was not so much that the Council forces had been caught off-guard--though he could not imagine how the Reds had managed to find the girl. Had this been a normal operation, a properly "heroic" operation, his men would have been subdued and sent off to the Zig, from whence they could have been extracted in a few days or weeks. Then it would have been business as usual.

But no.

Red Savriour had issued a kill order. The survivors had returned to a base red with blood, strewn with broken bodies. The prison where the girl had been held was not even useable when the living firebombs the Commissar had on her extraction team were done with it. It had taken months to rebuild, regroup, retrain. And as the Archon stood amid the smoldering ruins, he had vowed that he would hurt Red Saviour. Not kill her. Hurt her. Hurt her in the only way she would properly appreciate.

He would do to the CCCP what the Communists had done to the Council. And he would do it when she was far from her Headquarters, so that she, too, would stand amid the ruins and the bodies and she would scream to the heavens in her pain.

Now the hour had come. The cow had gone to Moscow and her prize bull with her. But the calves were left for slaughter. Instead of a single head, the CCCP was being led by four. A weak American who was always absent doing politics. His blue slut, a soft healer. A crazed Frenchman. The only Russian among them was a drunk who hadn't the backing of any but the Russians.

Nevertheless, the Archon was taking no chances. He would wait until the leaders and the most experienced and powerful were gone, off to their daily assignments, leaving only the junior members behind. Then his forces would take the building and lie in wait, ambushing the seniors as they returned.

Then he would pack the basement with explosives and level the entire block. And helpless in Moscow, Red Saviour would howl....

It was going to be a glorious day.