Goodbye: Part Two

From the Story Arc: Battle Stations: Aftermath

Previous Story in the Arc: Goodbye: Part One by Komrad Vex (Sunday, April 23, 2006)

Next Story in the Arc: Goodbye: Part Three by Petrograd (Sunday, April 23, 2006)

(posted Sunday, April 23, 2006)

Red Saviour

A commotion of hushed voices moved from the back of the gathered mourners. The crowd parted as a tall, raven haired woman in a simple black suit stepped forward. Her escort was a handsome Spaniard. She kept a hand on her distended belly.

The mood darkened even further from its somber beginnings. Some marveled at the nerve of the woman whose iron-fisted strike against the Council had set off a ground war; others marveled that she had the courage to appear at all.

The speaker at the podium, a city official running for re-election, cleared his throat, finished his eulogy in mid-sentence, and stepped aside. Commissar Red Saviour took his place as if he never existed.

Her eyes were dry and cold.

She reviewed the crowd for a long, drawn out moment, making both detractors and sympathizers squirm with suspense. Then she removed a small bottle of vodka from her coat, and a glass. With solemnity she poured a glass, but let it sit.

“I have buried my friends before,” she said. A whine of microphone feedback greeted her strong, unwavering voice. “Today, I do so again. Of the six dead, only one was not one of my own comrades: Li Lung. In death, I call him a comrade regardless. Free Radical, Heavy Brother, Grandmaster Te, Iron Curtain. They gave their lives for this country, and for a world tired of fighting. I salute their memories.”

Slowly, she lifted the glass and drank the contents in one gulp.

“I have stories of each. I will not share them.” She paused. The wind whipped at the black clothes of the mourners. “In time I will speak of them to my friends and my husband. For now, I wish to be alone with each one of them in my heart. Others will speak of the dead, and this will suffice.”

Red Saviour refilled her glass.

“Mojiotok, however, was a brother to me from childhood. We played, and fought, and teased, and pulled pranks on Worker’s Champion. Da, is true. Children are fearless.” A smile ghosted across her lips. “But Mojiotok, he I must remember at length. There is much to recall.”

She drank again.

“I will not stay to reminisce with you. My home – my country -- awaits me. If I regain my powers I will become Red Saviour again.” Those near her caught the cold fury in her eyes. “But do not think I have surrendered, or the deaths of these heroes has broken me. Do me this courtesy, and I will let myself believe that you are not cowed either.”

A murmur broke out in the crowd.

“Do not let my comrades die in vain. You Amerikantskii are so shocked. You believe I created this war on my own, like a madwoman, nyet?

“I tell you this, and now, as I bury my friends, you will listen to me: the war has always existed. From the moment a caveman killed another for his meat, men have killed. The reasons do not change, the fear – and the thrill of power – do not change. This has not stopped because you all wear capes and defy the laws of physics.

“The men I killed – and their comrades who died trying to exact revenge – are terrorists. Soldiers. Killers, because they wish to exert personal power over society without regard for innocent lives. They make their choices. Perhaps they choose one day to reform, or perhaps they kill your son or daughter” – the hand strayed to her belly again – “to steal their wallets. You cannot control what is in their hearts.

“But you can still their hands.”

She let the whispers die out. “It is your country. You defend it as you see fit. I go to defend mine. I wish success for all of us, before we, too, fall.” She inclined her head towards the coffins. “Do svedanya.”

The Spaniard took the vodka bottle and glass, and led her back through the crowd. Red Saviour, Commissar of CCCP, held her head high, and walked dry-eyed to her awaiting taxi to leave America for good.