Motives

From the Story Arc: Battle Stations: Aftermath

Previous Story in the Arc: Comrade by Komrad Vex (Tuesday, April 11, 2006)

Next Story in the Arc: New Acquisitions by Petrograd (Tuesday, April 11, 2006)

(posted Tuesday, April 11, 2006)

Bejouled sat at the kitchen table eating Apple Jacks. Bear had expounded at length earlier in the week that it was a stupid bourgeois trick to claim it contained apples when it only contained sugar. The Soviet Bear reclined in his chair and watched reruns of MASH.

"Conduct unbecoming of an OFFICER! You are a traitor, Comrade Honeycutt!" the Bear yelled, throwing a ravioli-covered spoon at the television. They were both in pretty good health after what had transpired at the CCCP base. The front steps of their apartment building were scorched with napalm and stained with the blood of fascists and heroes. The only casualty in the tenement was Mrs. Krupauer's dog, Muffin, who was mysteriously killed by an electrical shock after major combat had stopped. Bear was mainly tired; he had expended almost all of his white-hot internal plasma in the combat. He looked limp and grey in his chair. Bejouled had suffered a very cosmetic bruise, a la Gorbachev, on her forehead; the edges of the wound were starting to turn the yellow-brown color of burnt scalloped potatoes.

"They died serving the Party," Bear said gravely. These were the first words spoken about the event since they were home. "We should all be so lucky."

Bejouled shrugged and resumed reading. The RPC was front page news on the Paragon Times, but Bejouled was reading between the lines, looking for a message from her broker. "Old Man," she said flatly, "will you be attending the memorial service?"

"I shall. As an Official of the CCCP, my attendance is expected," Bear sighed. His heart was not in it. The Soviet Bear knew, as did all Stalinists of his era, that everyone was expendable, even himself. To die for the Party was the greatest honor one could have in death, and, because of this, he found it hard to mourn the fallen. "Will you be going?" the Bear asked curiously.

Bejouled gave him a look that would register as steely on Moh's Hardness Scale. "I must humbly decline. It would a greater honor for our fallen if I continue my patrols and keep Paragon safe instead of wearing a blouse and eating bad hor-d'oeuvres at a low-rate funeral complex."

"Da," the Bear said wearily, "Horosho. Do as you see fit. To each according his abilities, and to each according their needs." He wished he could close his eye and sleep, but the whirring motor of his plasma pump made sure he did no such thing. He stared blankly at an infomercial that had begun.

****

Pocket D was almost empty, as it had been since the end of Valentine's Day. Still, Bejouled exercised a great deal of caution as she crossed over the dance floor toward the Rogue Isles elevator. There were two men at the bar, one was an Arachnos operative, the other a battered soldier with a crumpled officer's cap. "Operative Vargas," Bejouled purred, "we meet once more."

Vargas looked suddenly attentive. "Agent Bejouled! I assumed you would be here tonight, and you are, right on schedule. Most of my agents are not able to leverage their strengths like you are. "

The battered soldier looked up from his drink. He was a Council archon, his uniform still covered with the dust and grime from King's Row. At one time he had been very handsome, but recently the left side of his face had been severely broken and scarred, as if a blind surgeon had stitched him up with fishing line. His eyes grew larger and his face turned a deep shade of red. "Bitch! Why did you invite her here, Vargas?" Spittle flew from his twisted mouth.

"Calm down," Vargas said calmly, "Agent Bejouled helped us quite a bit during your aborted operation. She planted Striga transport tags on as many defeated soldiers as possible. Essentially, if you look at a cost-benefit analysis of the situation, she saved the council several years of recruitment, retention, and training by saving a few dozen of your elite Cor Leonis soldiers."

"Archon Moreno," Bejouled said with a smile, "If you keep this up, I will slap the other side of your face and you can have a matching set."

Archon Moreno slumped on his stool. During the battle, a full-figured CCCP fighter shattered his face with a single blow. He crawled away from the fight into a alleyway, where he found a lone mortificator hollowing out a body for Dr. Vazhilok. After much coercion, they ducked into an abandoned building so the butcher could sew his jaw back on. Now, it so happens that the person who maimed him, the person who he vowed to destroy until his last days, was the paid Arachnos agent sent to rescue his men from death or worse. Needless to say, Archon Moreno did not buy a lottery ticket that week.

"My money, Operative Vargas." The air around the men began to crackle with raw electrical power.

"Taken care of," Vargas said, "laundered through the Golden Giza and placed into your St. Martial account."

Bejouled smiled. "Excellent. If you need anymore assistance, Comrade Vargas, you know how to reach me."

Bejouled turned and left. Vargas smiled at the magnificence and efficiency of his agent, and Archon Moreno quietly wept from the normal side of his face.

****

Bejouled arrived home. The Bear had already returned from the memorial service. "How was your patrol, Comrade?"

"I believe that our fallen comrades would be pleased."

"Excellent. Horosho." The Bear said softly.

Bejouled went into the bedroom and shut the door. ":Bear was right," she thought, "we are all expendable. But some of us are more expendable than others." She then fell asleep, and had the sound sleep of someone at peace with their fate.